For the lovers of hot and spicy food, sauces are an important criterion. Hot sauces can add an edge to any dish. But there is no universal hot sauce. There are various kinds of chili peppers and each kind of pepper has a different level of hotness. For a chef, it is important to have a fair idea about the pungency of taste of each kind of chili and other spicy food so that he can use it in the right amount in the right dish. This is where hot sauce scale comes into picture. For the ones who are not aware, this scale gives a crystal clear idea about the level to which each kind of chili or spicy food is hot. Given below is all you need to know about it.
How the scale works
Even before you can know how this scale works, you should know who invented it in the first place. This scale was created by Wilbur Scoville who was an American pharmacist. The method through which the scale came into being is regarded as the Scoville Organoleptic Test. It happened back in 1912. What was done is alcohol extract of capsaicin oil is taken from the pepper and to this one has to add a sugar and water solution. The solution has to be added a bit at a time, till the spicy heat of the chili can be detected. This detection is done by five tasters. Accordingly, the ratings are given to each kind of chili or pepper.
This is how the entire table of the spicy hotness scale was devised. It contains a large number of such spicy chili species and other such spicy food. The ratings depend on the hotness detected in the organoleptic taste.
Criticisms of the scale
Just like any other invention, this particular scale created by Scoville underwent some concerns or criticisms too. The most obvious one was that spicy heat of the chili found in the organoleptic test is tested by human tasters. Hence, the scale is entirely dependent on human judgment, which can be erroneous too. What is highly spicy to one could be hardly spicy to another. Because the tasters are given one sample of it, the results are extremely subjection to individual judgment. In other words, this particular scale lacks the precision that is important in any scientific invention. Hence it has been seen that the spicy heat ratings for the same kind of pepper has varied from laboratory to laboratory – wherever this test was done.
Apart from the above, other concerns are related to the chili itself. Now, there are hundreds of chili species all over the world. Their spicy heat will differ as per the climate they grow in and the lineage they are from. There cannot be a one size fits all rating on any kind of pepper. Fresh peppers tend to have different amount of spicy heat than dried ones. So, as stated before, this scale is highly subjective and should be used with care.