The Naga Viper pepper is hot. So hot that Guinness World Records named it the world’s hottest in 2011 (it has since been dethroned).
Created in England, the Naga Viper pepper is a crazy cross of three of the world’s hottest chilis: the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, Bhut Jolokia (ghost pepper), and Naga Morich, all peppers native to India.
Ready to learn more about this ultra-spicy pepper? Read on.
The Naga Viper pepper looks like the offspring of its parents. Its bumpy red body is long, curved, and wrinkled like the ghost pepper and Naga Morich. Its curved tail can resemble the characteristic scorpion tail of the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion.
Citrusy and tangy notes come through in this fruity pepper. It has also been described as earthy and floral. You’ll be able to taste some of those notes before the full heat of the pepper flares.
As mentioned, the naga viper pepper is a very hot pepper. The Scoville rating–a scale that measures spiciness based on the amount of capsaicin in the pepper–measures the heat of the Naga Viper at 1,382,118 SHU (Scoville heat units).
For comparison, a jalapeño is between 2,000 and 8,000 SHU, and a Carolina Reaper, the new world record holder for heat, measures 1,569,000 SHU.
Don’t let this pepper fool you. At first bite, you might think you’re some kind of pepper superhero, able to withstand the hottest of hot. But wait for it.
How To Eat
Before you even think about touching a Naga Viper pepper, wear kitchen gloves and eye protection. Seriously. If you do end up getting some of a pepper’s oil on your skin (or need to get the capsaicin heat out of your mouth), stay away from water. Capsaicin repels it.
Milk should be your go-to remedy to combat intense pepper heat in your mouth or your hands. Milk is slightly acidic, which helps break down the spicy oil quickly. Drink cold milk for your mouth and soak your burning hands in a bowl of it.
Other dairy products (milk, yogurt, cottage cheese) can help if you don’t have milk. Your next best options are citrus juices (not as pleasant for the mouth, but fine on burning hands) or vegetable oil.
Control the Heat
When you’re ready to cook, take things very slowly with the Naga Viper pepper. Start with a very tiny bit, taste, and add more as desired.
To take the heat down a little, you can remove the stems and seeds from the pepper before using it.
How to Use
Because the Naga Viper is so intense, it’s often used in hot sauces or to add a kick to otherwise mild condiments like barbecue sauce. It can also be added to any dish you want to spice up, like curries, stir-fries, and even chili.
Many people pickle pepper to use in recipes. Some of these brave people also eat the pickles straight from the jar.
Another convenient way to add spice to your life is to dry Naga Vipers and grind them into powder. Be careful, though. Inhaling the fine particles released when grinding will irritate your lungs. Wear a mask if you’re grinding any hot pepper. You know you have one (or a hundred) lying around.
Capsaicin–which the Naga Viper has in spades–is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and may boost your metabolism. Naga Vipers are also loaded with vitamin C and phytonutrients; there’s some evidence that capsaicin may lower your risk of certain cancers.
How to Grow Your Own
Now that you’ve learned all about this exciting pepper, you’re probably eager to start growing your own!
Even when planting and cultivating, it’s imperative that you wear gloves and eye protection.
You can buy Naga Viper pepper seeds online.
Plant your seeds after the threat of frost is over. In cooler hardiness zones, start your seedlings indoors and move them when things warm up outdoors. The seedlings take about 2 or 3 weeks to germinate.
Naga Viper peppers grow best in US Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 8 through 11. They do well in temperatures between 75 and 90 degrees.
Full sunlight will give your pepper plants the energy they need to produce a good crop.
Naga Viper peppers need about 2 inches of water per week.
Plant your peppers in moderately moist, but not wet, soil. The plants should be spaced about 2 feet apart.
Your pepper plants will grow to about 3 to 4 feet. Although the fruit is relatively small, you should consider having some pepper plant cages on hand to support the plant if needed.
The plants sprout light-green leaves and white flowers. As they mature, they ripen from green to orange to bright red. Once they’re fire-engine red, they’re ready to harvest. This usually takes around 100 days but could take up to 160.
Naga Viper peppers are susceptible to the usual pepper diseases, like mosaic viruses and blight, as well as pests, like hornworms, thrips, aphids, and grubs.
Spread by insects that feast on sap, mosaic viruses are a death sentence for your plants. They are not reversible and can spread to other plants through contact. Signs of a mosaic virus include low fruit production, yellow mottled leaves, and stunted plant growth.
Blight (there are several varieties) can manifest with wilting leaves covered in big, brown spots. The soil-borne pathogen to blame for this disease can infect your plants with leaves low on the main stem. The main stem itself may turn brown or black, and both root rot and fruit rot result.
Neem oil is an effective way to deal with any pests that are hanging around your plants. Dilute one tablespoon of neem oil into 6 cups of water and apply to your plants with a sprayer. This is a natural way to kill active pests and prevent new ones from setting up shop.
Do You Dare?
From planting to eating, Naga Viper peppers are a risky but potentially rewarding fruit to grow in your backyard garden.
They may take a little more finesse than the average hot pepper, but if you like things super hot, give these peppers a shot. Check out our pepper pages for all our information on growing, harvesting, and using pepper plants.
- About the Author
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Ronda Lindsay is a writer and editor who loves getting outside in her garden, whether that’s in the temperate climates of the Pacific Northwest or Mid-Atlantic or in the sweltering heat of south-central Texas.
Growing up, she was a regular at pick-your-own farms, where she and her siblings gathered anything that wasn’t already growing in her family’s backyard to eat, freeze, or can. As an adult, Ronda has taken the vast gardening knowledge bestowed upon her by her mother and used it to grow everything from strawberries to jalapeños, arrange beautiful container gardens, and nurse sick plants back to health.
With a bachelor’s in English and a master’s in professional writing, Ronda enjoys using her skills to share information and advice with Minneopa Orchards readers!