Chilli peppers belong to the Capsicum family which comprises many different varieties used in cooking. The fruits are used fresh or in processed forms such as paprika, Tabasco Sauce and chipotle (which is dried and smoked).
Chillies contain capsaicin which gives them their hotness. The level of “heat” is measured in Scoville degrees. Sweet pepper ranges between 0-100 degrees Scoville, jalapeño between 2,500-5,000 and pure capsaicin has a Scoville rating of 16 million degrees. The hottest chilli discovered to date is the Naga Viper which, curiously enough, is grown in England. The Naga Viper chilli has a Scoville rating of 1.3 million degrees. The highest levels of capsaicin are found in the seed bed and the thin membranes that emanate from the fruit’s centre. Cutting away these parts will reduce the heat of the pepper. Regular ingestion of hot chillies will result in a tolerance to their hotness.