Some of you may like it hot, and some of you just may like it down right burning hot. If you like a little pep in your step and want hot peppers to give it to you, be sure to try ghost peppers. Most ghost pepper lovers can’t get enough and end up growing them on their own. Read on to find out what, exactly, ghost peppers are and how to grow the hottest ghost peppers in your backyard garden.
What Is a Ghost Pepper?
Bhut Jolokia, commonly known as ghost pepper, is a type of hot pepper indigenous to India. If you know your heat index, you’ll know that habanero peppers are most often called the hottest peppers. However, habaneros don’t even come close to ghost peppers on a Scoville heat unit measurement. While habaneros come in at a measurement of 250,000 units, ghost peppers are off the charts with a Scoville heat unit of 1,001,304! Take it straight from the Guinness Book of World Records itself which recorded a ghost pepper variety, named Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, the hottest pepper in the entire world!
Why is it Called a Ghost Pepper?
You might find the way that ghost peppers got their name quite comedic. Westerners, who mistranslated and mispronounced the word “Bhut,” heard and repeated the word “Bhot,” which means ghost. Thus, the ghost pepper was born.
Common Uses of Growing Ghost Peppers
In India, ghost peppers are grown and used for their medicinal qualities. You’ll be quite surprised to learn that these super-hot peppers are actually used to cure stomach ailments. They are often eaten during the summer to cool the body by inducing perspiration. Plants may often be spread across fences to repel elephants and other animals that like to cross over in certain areas.
How to Grow the Hottest Ghost Peppers
If you have decided to partake in these hot peppers or want to grow your own, there really is a science to it. These peppers take a lot of tender love and care, and they do require exact temperature and humidity specifications to grow properly. Peppers are fairly easy to grow, but ghost peppers need to feel like they are at home meaning you will achieve the best results if you closely replicate the same conditions that enable these hot pepper plants to thrive in India.
Unless you live in India, or your climate experiences at least five months of intense, high humidity and scorching temperatures, you will need to provide additional warmth. The best place for the proper humidity and constant warm temperatures is best achieved in a greenhouse. A greenhouse will enable you to keep the heat at a constant 75-degree temperature that these hot pepper plants need to reach their proper heat index. If you have a short growing season, you may be able to move your plants inside at night. However, keep in mind that these plants are very sensitive to changes in their environment and moving them around too much could damage the heat index of the fruit that these plants usually yield.
When to Harvest Your Ghost Peppers
When the fruit is firm to the touch and has a vibrant color, it is ready to be harvested. However, err on the side of caution when harvesting these fierce fruits. Wear gloves and protective eyewear to keep yourself out of harm’s way. This will help prevent any burns on your skin or irritation to the eyes. You definitely don’t want to get ghost pepper juice in your eyes. This can cause burns, irritation, and swelling. If you come into contact with ghost pepper juice on your skin or eyes, rinse immediately with cold water.
You may also want to cover your mouth and nose while harvesting these peppers. The smell alone can take your breath away. You may think with all the extra caution, that maybe you shouldn’t be eating these extremely hot peppers. However, they are safe to ingest in moderation. If it’s your first time trying ghost peppers, take it slow. Take a small bite at first, to test your taste buds. See if they can really handle the hottest pepper in the world. If not, have a glass of milk (not water) ready and waiting to gulp down and cool your mouth off. The milk will also help coat your stomach and reduce gastrointestinal distress.