How hot is hot?

With hot sauces and pepper jams, it all comes down to personal taste

When it comes to the sheer potency of chili peppers, one person’s sizzling atomic hot is another person’s happy medium or cool mild. 

In the competitive world of hot sauces and pepper jams, taste is totally personal and subjective, says Jason Parker, co-owner of Angry Goat Pepper Co. in White River Junction.

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“Everyone’s idea of medium and hot is not the same,” says Parker, recalling one customer who sampled one of his hot sauces and thought it was on the milder side. 

The chemical that gives chili peppers their zing is called capsaicin. In 1912, Wilbur Scoville created the Scoville Scale to measure the amount of capsaicin in chilis to determine their hotness.  

For example, Pasilla Peppers rank fairly mild at 1,000-1,500 Scoville Heat Units. Yet there’s little confusing medium or mild with the Carolina Reaper chili pepper, weighing in at an eye-watering 2.2 million SHUs.

Angry Goat Purple Hippo Hot Sauce combines Prickly Pear with Habanero and Scorpion peppers, and strawberries, to create a distinct flavor and heat profile.

Parker notes that the heat scale does not take into account the fact that everyone’s palate is different. Some people can tolerate capsaicin in higher amounts than others, so the experience varies. 

The heat profile of a pepper is based purely on the concentration of the capsaicin and the type of pepper used, he says.

“Due to growing conditions and sources, the peppers will vary greatly on the Scoville scale,” Parker says. “This is why all peppers on the scale have a range. For instance, habaneros range from 150,000 up to 300,000 and can even go up to approximately 500,000 depending on the color and strain. This is why, depending on our supplier sources, batches can go up and down with heat.”

Angry Goat co-owner Jason Parker prepares a sample of Purple Hippo Hot Sauce in the company's new tasting room.

A great start...

Feeling the burn...

And a great finish

So, what's your idea of hot? 

Angry Goat Pepper Co. invites you to come in and try a sample of 12 award winning hot sauces and nine pepper jams in the company's new tasting room at 240 South Main St., White River Junction.


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