The Carolina Reaper pepper is not for the faint of heart. This unassuming pepper may look small and innocent, but it’s actually the hottest chili pepper in the world. But where did this pepper come from?
If you’re curious how such a small size pepper can pack such a huge punch, keep reading for all you need to know about the Carolina Reaper pepper!
History of the Carolina Reaper Pepper
On August 11th, 2017, the Carolina Reaper pepper broke the Guinness World Record for the hottest chili pepper in the world. South Carolina resident and hot pepper enthusiast “Smokin'” Ed Currie is to blame, having created this variety in 2013 when he crossbred a Naga Viper pepper with an exceptionally hot red habanero variety.
The pepper’s fiery heat earned its record after being tested at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC – where it still holds the title today! 1,641,183 Scoville Heat units is the Carolina Reaper pepper average, but exceptionally spicy peppers have reached up to 2,200,000 Scoville units.
The original Carolina Reaper pepper has a vibrant red skin with a bright green stem. The average size is about one to two inches wide and two to three inches long, and most peppers have a small and pointy tail that sticks out at the end. The skin can range from smooth to rough with lots of bumps on the surface.
Red is the most common color, but different varieties of the Carolina reaper pepper can be yellow, orange, or even a rich chocolate color!
Is Eating a Carolina Reaper Pepper Dangerous?
Everyone knows that the Carolina Reaper pepper is the hottest pepper around – but is it actually safe to eat? Of course! In fact, this hot pepper variety actually has a sweet and almost fruity taste that happens right before the heat kicks in.
Capsaicin is the culprit responsible for the spicy sensation in the mouth and throat when eating these peppers.
People who have pre-existing health conditions or aren’t used to eating spicy foods may experience an upset stomach from eating Carolina Reapers, but there is no pressing danger. However, it’s always a good idea to wear gloves when handling hot peppers – the high level of capsaicin can burn your hands if you’re not careful!
Many people prefer to stay away from the flaming fire of these peppers, but those who can handle the spice know just how much these peppers can add to spicy dishes. Carolina Reaper peppers can be used for hot sauces, pepper jellies, made into powders, and even eaten fresh for those who dare to face the heat.
To extend shelf life, try freezing your peppers. Don’t worry – this doesn’t affect the spice!
If you think you can take the heat, check out these adventurous recipes that feature the hottest chili pepper on earth!
Besides ultimate bragging rights, there are multiple reasons to add the Carolina Reaper pepper to your diet. Capsaicin boosts metabolism, promotes weight loss, has pain-relieving properties, and even contains anti-cancer properties. This hot pepper is also a great source of Vitamins C and A!
Growing the Carolina Reaper Pepper
Carolina Reaper peppers may require some extra TLC in the garden, but having your own supply of these blazing peppers will be well worth the effort. This plant has a relatively long growth period, therefore it’s best to start your peppers indoors before transplanting them outside.
Planting your peppers four to six weeks before moving them outside should give your peppers the start they need for successful growth. Peppers are not cold-weather fans, so make sure temperatures remain above at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit before transplanting to an outdoor garden.
On average, the Carolina Reaper pepper takes about two to four weeks to germinate and requires very warm soil to sprout – ideally between 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Adding a heat mat underneath pepper containers is a great way to ensure your soil maintains an optimal temperature for plant growth.
Seeds should be sown 1/4 inch deep. Don’t forget to wear gloves!
Ideally, pepper seedlings should be moved outside about two to three weeks after sprouting. If your sprouts are starting to outgrow their containers before outdoor conditions have reached ideal temperatures, your peppers may be transplanted into a larger container to avoid root suffocation.
When transplanting your Carolina Reaper peppers outside, be sure to pick a spot where plenty of sunlight can reach your plants. These peppers love their heat and thrive in full sun!
Soil and Water Needs
Moist soil and heat are keys to timely germination. A pH of 6 to 6.5 is ideal for growth, and the soil should be light and well-draining. Adding nutrient-rich fertilizer will help promote the vigorous development of your plants.
During the germination process, your soil should maintain high levels of moisture. Once your seeds have sprouted, your plant will require much less water. Your soil should never dry out, but the Carolina Reaper pepper is a heat-tolerant plant and can survive with less frequent watering. Your peppers should receive about two inches of water per week.
Pepper plants are susceptible to calcium deficiency. To help support a healthy dose of calcium, you may spray your plant with a diluted calcium-magnesium solution during growth.
A fully grown Carolina Reaper pepper plant can reach up to five feet tall and about three to five feet wide. Your peppers should be ready to harvest anywhere from 90 to 120 days after growth. It’s best to harvest peppers once they’ve developed their full red color – this is when the super-hot peppers have reached their full heat and flavor potential.
Remember your gloves when harvesting the peppers!
Did you know pepper plants are actually perennials? To enjoy more peppers the following season, bring your plant inside to keep it warm and happy during the winter months!
Where to Buy Carolina Reaper Pepper Seeds
Due to its extreme heat, the Carolina Reaper pepper is not commonly found in local markets or stores. If you’re eager to experience the exceptional heat for yourself, the easiest way is to buy seeds online.
To add this flaming feature to your garden, check out these Carolina Reaper pepper seeds from Hoss Tools!
A Fiery Fascination
With such an impressive resume, there’s no doubt the Carolina Reaper pepper is one of the most interesting plants around.
Want to know more about other types of peppers? Check out our other pepper posts for everything you need to know!