Coming Soon...Shop by Scoville Scale
...and what's not? We've taken the guesswork out of buying hot sauce by scientifically rating each and every hot sauce and salsa in our catalog. Our pages list hot sauces by Scoville Units, a unit of measurement used in High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) which basically measures the amount of water it takes to neutralize the heat in a sample of sauce.
HOT! Hot? What exactly does the word 'hot' mean when it's used to describe food? How about 'nuclear', 'fanny-kicking', 'medium' or 'mild'? Just because a label says it's hot, should you believe it? Hot compared to what? With so many different heat scales and terms being used, there is too much confusion and no reference point. We figured it was time to use a standardized scientific heat rating for our catalog that would be universally understood.
Ever since we started selling hot sauce back in 1989, we have continually been asked by customers to come up with a more useful heat rating system, other than hot, medium and mild. Since tasting heat is a relative process depending on the tastebuds of each individual, we decided to employ a scientific rating system that measures the heat of the peppers (capsaicin) in a sample of each of the hot sauces we carry. The heat is measured in Scoville units, a unit of measurement devised in 1912, by Wilbur Scoville. Known as the organoleptic method, human tasters are used to evaluate how many parts of sugar water it takes to neutralize the heat.
What is a Scoville unit?
A Scoville Measuring Unit was invented in 1912 by Wilbur L. Scoville, a pharmacologist for the Parke- Davis Company. Willie's original test consisted of a panel of tasters who would systematically taste for detectable "heat" in a solution of extract of chile and slightly sweetened water. The idea was to determine how far the chile extract could be diluted and still have a detectable burn. For example, a Jalapeno pepper rated at 4,500 Scoville units tells us that 4,500 parts sugar water are needed to dilute one part Jalapeno extract to the last point that hotness can be tasted. Add any more sugar water and according to this subjective test, you would not be able to taste any hotness. To give you an example of heat levels, TabascoÒ Hot Sauce is 2,500 Scoville Units; the hottest Mo Hotta Mo Betta carries is over a million!!!!!
Confused? You bet you are! That is why the food industry no longer uses this archaic test, but chile heat is still given in Scoville units. Today, machines use high- pressure liquid chromatography to measure chile heat. This method takes out the guesswork, but one should keep in mind that it only rates the heat of the sample being tested, and not the absolute firepower of every chile in that variety. Climate, soil, weather, geography and harvest time all affect how hot a pepper can be. Heck, even chiles on the same bush can have different heat levels.
SO, when you're trying to grasp how hot that Red Savina is at 500,000 Scoville units, think of this: If you took a beer can full of Red Savina pepper extract and poured it into a large vat (it must be a very large vat), it would take 500,001 beers to dilute the extract to the point where there was no heat tasted. A bit mind boggling, isn't it?