Ghost chili peppers possess a unique flavor and intense heat, which makes them a favorite among food connoisseurs worldwide. In this guide, we will talk about everything related to the ghost pepper, the world’s hottest pepper at one point and still not for the faint of heart. We will explore the numerous varieties and colors and learn about the best dishes to include them in. We also discuss the various types of ghost peppers and some of the popular products available at Magic Plant Farms.
What Is a Ghost Pepper?
The ghost pepper, also known as bhut jolokia, is a well-known variety of pepper that was discovered in India. Although it was originally believed to be another variety of Capsicum chinense, it is actually a hybrid of the Capsicum chinense and the Capsicum frutescens. Nowadays, the ghost pepper is hugely sought-after among food lovers everywhere owing to its unique wrinkly shape, unforgettable flavor, and intense heat.
Origins of the Ghost Pepper
All the varieties of Capsicum chinense began their origins in South America and made their journey to the West Indies. In fact, the oldest variety of pepper was discovered more than 6,000 years ago, carefully preserved and hidden away in a Peruvian cave. According to some food historians, the ghost pepper’s origins can be traced back to Trinidad, which is home to some of the hottest peppers in the world.
From there, it made its journey to Assam as well as Nagaland in India, through local breeding of plants or travel. The ghost pepper was cultivated locally and still grows in its natural state across Northeastern India. In the Sanskrit language, “Naga” is another word for serpent. Most varieties of ghost pepper or naga chili are named after the place Nagaland in India, which is home to many local varieties of peppers.
The Ghost Pepper Plant
Similar to a majority of pepper varieties, ghost pepper plants are easy to cultivate. The teardrop-shaped pods are tough and pest resistant. The plants are perennials so they will come back every year, but they take about 6 months to fully mature.
Features of the Ghost Pepper Plant
All the varieties of the ghost pepper plant have broad, large leaves, as well as a full canopy. The flowers generally tend to be white in color and range from small to medium in terms of size. Ghost pepper plants can be very productive, especially under suitable growing conditions. It’s not mandatory to prune ghost pepper plants, however, it can help them grow. Pertaining to this, it’s better to prune the bottom so that the plant is protected from pathogens originating in the soil.
Varieties of the ghost plant are usually slow in maturing, so it is best to start off the seeds at the earliest, indoors. The plants can take over a hundred days from transplanting to delivering the ripe pepper pods. If provided with the right amount of light, soil, and fertilizer, the ghost pepper plant will easily rise to 3 feet in height within one single season.
Cultivating Ghost Pepper Plants
If you wish to cultivate ghost peppers in your home, you can begin from the seed, or purchase the live plants from the internet. Ghost pepper plants are not in extreme demand, so you may not readily find them at retail stores. You can check your local nursery to see if they have the plant as well. Gardening centers usually cater to local demands so if you inquire about the ghost pepper plant, they might have them the following year.
Scoville Scale of the Ghost Pepper
Most people wonder how spicy the ghost pepper is. To measure the heat of a pepper, we use the Scoville Heat Scale. The hotter the pepper, the more Scoville Heat Units (SHUs) it receives. If we compare the ghost pepper to another pepper, such as the bell pepper or jalapeño, it surpasses it dramatically. In fact, one ghost pepper has the same amount of spiciness as 125 jalapeños. When measured on the Scoville scale, the ghost pepper has a spiciness of 1,000,000+ SHUs. That is extremely spicy. In fact, it was listed in the Guinness World Records as being the hottest chili pepper for five consecutive years, from 2007 to 2011.
Different Colors of the Ghost Pepper
Modern methods of plant breeding the bhut jolokia have resulted in a wide range of varieties. There are ghost peppers of all different sizes and colors. Red ghost peppers tend to be the most recognized and remain among the spiciest ones. The lighter-colored ghost pepper varieties have less spice to them. Comparatively, the darker pods of ghost pepper colors tend to be hotter.
Peach-Colored Ghost Pepper
The pastel-shaded peach exterior of the ghost pepper camouflages a spicy interior. This variety of bhut jolokia can certainly pack a punch. In fact, the peach ghost pepper is considered to be as spicy as the original red pepper. It does, however, have a bit of a fruity aftertaste.
Yellow-Colored Ghost Pepper
The yellow-colored ghost pepper is also known as yellow naga pepper. It’s a true beauty and looks amazing when grown in a garden, as it adds a splash of color. The peppers can ripen as early as the middle of July, just in time for your favorite late summer dishes!
Green-Colored Ghost Pepper
The green ghost pepper, the early growing stage of the red ghost pepper, is not as intense as the red ghost pepper, but still packs a punch. In addition to a mild grassy, floral, and fruity flavor, the heat intensifies with each bite.
Chocolate-Colored Ghost Pepper
The chocolate (or brown) is a particular ghost pepper that tends to look a bit more sinister than the other varieties. The heat level is also very high. The chocolate bhut jolokia produces heat that is meant to scorch but with smoky, chocolate notes. In fact, the chocolate ghost is considered to be one of the hottest pepper varieties among ghost peppers.
How to Grow Ghost Peppers
Growing ghost peppers is similar to growing many of the other varieties of pepper. Out of all the hot pepper varieties available on the market, ghost peppers are among the easiest to grow. However, even though they may be easier to grow compared to other hot peppers, there are some things to keep in mind:
- The seeds can take longer to germinate. Ghost pepper seeds can be quite stubborn in germinating. It can take several weeks to about a month to start sprouting. It’s recommended to use a seed mat along with heat from the bottom to grow ghost pepper plants from seeds.
- The growth season also tends to be longer. Some of the early varieties of pepper can take up to 140 days, depending on the weather and other factors, to start having mature pods. You need to factor in at least a hundred days from the transplanting process to when the plant will start producing ripe peppers.
- Be cautious when handling pods. The outer covering of ghost peppers does not contain capsaicin, but even a tiny crack can release a lot. These are super hot peppers, so make sure to use latex gloves whenever you handle fresh peppers, especially when you plan to slice them. Be careful to avoid touching your face and eyes!
The Best Time to Pick Ghost Peppers
It is easy to determine the right time to pick ghost peppers. Similar to most varieties of pepper, ghost peppers will fully change color when they ripen. Unlike banana peppers or jalapeño peppers which are picked when underripe, ghost peppers are always picked when they are fully ripe. It’s best to pick the ghost pepper when it changes color from green to red, or whatever color of ghost pepper you are growing. Once the peppers start ripening, you will start to see the change in color in just a couple of days.
The Correct Method to Pick Ghost Peppers
Picking ghost peppers is a simple task. Just remove the peppers from the plant using your hands, making sure that you don’t damage the plant. Using upwards motions will help ‘pop’ the pepper cleanly. You can also use pruning shears or a pair of sharp scissors. You just need to cut the pepper stem around midway, while ensuring that you don’t nick the leaves or branches of the plant.
Uses of Ghost Pepper in the Kitchen
Are you ready to start using high-quality ghost pepper products? These spicy peppers can be used in many different ways. You can use them fresh, dehydrate them, preserve them, and even keep the seeds for growing on your own. Alternatively, the practical solution is to buy recipe-ready pepper products from Magic Plant Farms.
Making Hot Sauce Using Ghost Pepper
The homemade variety of hot sauce is an all-time favorite. You get a lot of sauce for all the hard work you put in, and it is a great way to use ghost peppers. You can make a sauce using a simple combination of vinegar, pepper (whole, mash, or powder), fruits, salt, and spices, then blend it to make your own version of the sauce. Always be sure to combine 50% vinegar and 2% salt. You don’t need to use only ghost peppers for this. It’s better to dilute it with some jalapeños too. You can also use fruits in the sauce, such as blueberries or pineapple, to add a bit of depth and sweetness.
Making Salsa Using Ghost Pepper
A super-spicy salsa using ghost pepper is a great way to utilize a couple of ghost peppers. A pepper, tomato, onion, and vinegar-based dip is surely a classic. Usually, salsa is prepared using jalapeños, but if you want to make the salsa spicier and unique, you can add ghost peppers.
Ghost Peppers in Chili
You can make some great chili dishes using ghost peppers. Make sure not to go overboard with the ghost peppers on this one. You can add half of a finely chopped pepper into the next batch of your homemade chili to make things spicier.
Dehydrating Ghost Peppers
Dehydration is a great way to preserve peppers, especially ghost peppers. This is a good alternative if you wish to make a spicy pepper powder later, or if you wish to save the peppers for future use. Slice the bhut jolokia peppers lengthwise in half before you start to dehydrate them. These peppers tend to be thin, so dehydration should not take beyond 8 or 10 hours at a temperature of 125°F. You do need to use a quality food dehydrator for the best results.
Saving the Seeds From Ghost Peppers
Saving the seeds from ghost peppers is always a useful exercise. The seeds remain viable for several years, especially if they are stored in proper conditions. You can easily regrow your favorite varieties later.
How to preserve the seeds for future use
- Always make sure to use fully ripe peppers.
- Slice the extreme end, making sure not to cut the stem.
- Start rolling the pepper in between your fingers, and you will start to notice the seeds falling out.
- Slice the pepper in a lengthwise manner.
- Remove the rest of the seeds using a spoon.
- Dry the seeds on a plate for several days.
- Store the seeds inside an airtight jar.
Where to Purchase Ghost Peppers
Not everyone wants to grow ghost peppers from scratch. You can easily purchase ghost peppers from a reputable seller. The ghost pepper has become quite popular due to the growing taste for spicy foods and interesting ingredients. You may even find it easy to locate bhut jolokia in some of your local stores. Many spice markets are likely to have them during the season. You can also purchase fresh ghost peppers online. But the key is to choose the right supplier with proven and authentic products.
Magic Plant Farms is a global industry leader when it comes to supplying ghost peppers and other types of chili peppers. We are committed to maintaining the highest food safety levels and internationally accepted quality standards. The authenticity and purity of every product Magic Plant Farms sells are assured. We are annually audited for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and are certified. For a comprehensive and exclusive range of ghost pepper products and other chili pepper products, Magic Plant Farms is the world’s favorite choice.
Choose Magic Plant Farms for the Best Quality Ghost Peppers
At Magic Plant Farms, we supply a range of ghost pepper products. The product range is truly versatile, and if you love spicy food you can be sure to find something to satisfy your craving. These products include ghost pepper mash, ghost pepper whole pods, ghost pepper powders, ghost pepper flakes, and more. The quantities usually range between 9 oz jars to 55 gal drums. You also get the ghost pepper seeds, in case you want to grow them in your own home.
These are readily shipped to US, Canada, as well as non-US addresses. Magic Plant Farms is truly global and want nothing but the best in terms of authenticity and purity of the product. Our pricing is competitive and our quality and flavors are unmatched. For the finest choices in ghost pepper products, visit our online store today.