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maximise your heat

Chillies… the hotter the better


There are lots of varieties of chillies, coming in many different sizes, colours and of course heat intensity. Some people set out to grow the hottest chillies they can, there are a few steps you can take to ensure your chillies pack a punch! The heat of chillies is measured in “Scoville heat units” (SHU).

Step one may seem obvious but it’s definitely a big part of growing the hottest chillies. Choosing the right varieties… this can be hard considering there are hundreds to choose from. An average supermarket bought chilli, such as birds eye chillies have an average SHU of 100,000 – 200,000, that may sound a lot but when compared to other variety’s it seems like baby food. The hottest variety of chilli in the world is the Carolina Reaper, which has an average SHU of 1,569,300 however the hottest Carolina reaper recorded reached 2,200,000. Of course, there are many varieties in between to choose from… I’m sure the right one will be found with ease.

Starting your chillies off as early as possible plays a big part in the overall heat of the chilly, this is because they need plenty of time to flower, fruit and ripen. Usually the hottest varieties need sowing as early as January, however can be planted as a plug later on in the year. Chilly plants need the hottest weather they can get so if growing for heat then grow indoors or in a polytunnel.

As strange as it sounds, abusing chilly plants will increase the heat of the fruits… this is because stress increases the amount of capsaicin which is the compound that creates the burning sensation. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to snap off stems and leaves from the plant, this mimic being attacked by predators but will decrease the size of the yield. Other ways of putting a plant through stress involve little feeding or none at all. Giving the plant no fertilizer will result in a smaller and weaker plant however the chillies will be hotter.

Just be sure not to grab a glass of water to cool the burning sensation… this won’t put out the flames. Capsaicin wont dissolve in water as It is hydrophobic and will only dissolve in fats and oils therefore the best thing to grab is a glass of full creamed milk.

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