No kitchen is complete without at least a handful of different options to season and spice food. Although there are a lot of different spices available, many people can’t imagine a kitchen without chili peppers in some form on hand to kick things up a notch. They can make any dish come alive with a wonderful combination of heat and flavor.
Jalapeno, serrano, habanero, cayenne, chipotle – the list of different varieties of hot peppers from around the world available to us today is quite long. Apart from these well-known hot peppers from Mexico, Central, and South America, these days we also have varieties that were purposely cultivated to compete for the title of the hottest pepper in the world – Carolina Reaper, 7 Pot Primo, Naga Viper, and of course, the Trinidad Scorpion pepper.
In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about the Scorpion pepper, also called the Trinidad Scorpion pepper or Red Scorpion pepper – what is it, where it comes from, how hot is it, what its health benefits are, and more.
What Is a Scorpion Pepper?
The Scorpion pepper is a variety of chili pepper that originated on the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean Sea, and it is one of the hottest pepper varieties in the world. As it originated in Trinidad and Tobago, the Scorpion pepper is commonly called the Trinidad Scorpion pepper, or the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper.
These spicy peppers are instantly recognizable by their tips – they look very much like the stingers on a scorpion’s tail where the rest of the body is often squat and round, like a lantern. Another definitive feature of the Scorpion pepper is its highly wrinkled skin.
In terms of body shape, the Trinidad scorpion peppers have a resemblance to habanero and Scotch Bonnet peppers. Although red is the most common color of a fully ripe Scorpion pepper, they also come in a wide range of other shades including yellow, orange, brown, and black.
Classification of the Scorpion Pepper
It’s not easy to properly classify pepper varieties since there are so many of them out there. Apart from traditional or “heirloom” cultivars, breeders are creating new variants by mixing and matching various peppers from around the globe.
That said, we can safely say that a Scorpion pepper belongs to the capsicum chinense species of chili peppers. This family is home to some of the hottest chilies in the world. Habanero, Ghost (Bhut Jolokia), and Scotch Bonnet are all hot chili variants of capsicum chinense.
History of Scorpion Peppers
Chili peppers originated in Central or South America. Scientists estimate that humans have been eating chili peppers since at least 7500 BC. And cultivation of peppers probably started in Mexico around 6,000 years ago.
Before they reached the Americas, people in Europe and Asia relied on other spices like black pepper and Sichuan peppercorns to add heat to their dishes. But traders eventually discovered these delightful plants, and chili peppers have spread to all corners of the globe.
In the last 500–600 years, we have witnessed an explosion in the number of chili pepper varieties, as more people started cultivating and breeding them in various countries. However, the Caribbean islands have a long history of chili pepper farming.
The Trinidad Scorpion pepper owes its origins to the Scotch Bonnet, an older “cousin” that can be traced to the Amazon jungles of Brazil, Bolivia, and Venezuela. The Scotch Bonnet was transported to Jamaica, Cuba, Trinidad, and other islands by native tribes, such as the Arawak, at least 1,400 years ago.
It is in Trinidad that the Scorpion pepper was created, after centuries of breeding and cultivation by local farmers.
Early Roots in Moruga
On the island of Trinidad, there is a village called Moruga on the southern tip. The area around Moruga is well known for a local variety of chili pepper with a fiery taste and a tip shaped like a scorpion’s stinger.
A prominent local farmer created the first established cultivar of this hot pepper, called the Moruga Scorpion Pepper or the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. It was further studied and admired in the 1990s at the University of West Indies.
Soon, the seeds of this hot pepper started traveling overseas to be added to the collections of chili pepper enthusiasts, pepper growers, hot sauce makers, and more. It was at one time listed as the world’s hottest pepper in the Guinness Book of World Records.
How Hot Are Trinidad Scorpion Peppers?
As you can imagine, a pepper does not enter the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s hottest pepper without some serious heat. It may no longer hold the title, but Scorpion peppers are not to be taken lightly.
In terms of actual impact on your tongue and body, you may not find much difference between a Naga Viper, Scorpion, or Carolina Reaper pepper – they all bring intense heat!
Scoville Measurements of Trinidad Scorpion Peppers
As you may already know, Scoville is the scale used to rank peppers based on their spice levels. The main active ingredient that causes the burning sensation in our mouth when we eat a pepper is a chemical called capsaicin.
Chili peppers are the only spice that has capsaicin. For reference, the heat in a black pepper comes from a different chemical – piperine. The basic rules of the Scoville scale are simple – the higher the level of capsaicin in a pepper, the higher the Scoville Heat Units measurement (SHU).
Here is a quick look at the various chili peppers in ascending order of SHU levels:
- Poblano – 1,000 to 2,000 SHU – very mild
- Jalapeno – 2,500 to 8,000 SHU – mild to hot
- Serrano – 10,000 to 25,000 SHU – hot
- Chiltepin – 50,000 to 100,000 SHU – very hot
- Habanero – 100,000 to 600,000 SHU – really hot
- Ghost Pepper – 600,000 to 1 million SHU – fiery hot
- Scorpion Pepper – 1 million to 2 million SHU – extremely hot
- Carolina Reaper – 1.4 million to 2.2 million SHU – insanely hot
As you can see, a Trinidad Scorpion pepper can be anywhere from 400 to 1,000 times spicier than a regular poblano or jalapeno pepper. It is at least 4–5 times hotter than the habanero. Once you go beyond the 1 million SHU threshold, the higher numbers start to lose their significance from a taste perspective.
All those hotter chili peppers – the Ghost pepper, the Carolina Reaper, the Trinidad Scorpion pepper – can make you feel like your mouth is on fire.
These days, newer versions of the Trinidad Scorpion peppers can be seen as well, with SHU scores that beat even the Carolina Reaper. The Apocalypse Scorpion pepper is an excellent example of this new breed of super hot peppers.
Created by Italian pepper breeders, the Apocalypse Scorpion pepper has been measured at between 1.4 million to 2.2 million Scoville heat units, putting it among the hottest peppers in the world and in the same league as the Carolina Reaper.
From a purely culinary perspective, if you just want a fiery hot chili to kick up your dishes, or if you are a fan of extreme sensations, a Scorpion pepper will serve you well.
How Do Scorpion Peppers Taste?
For the average user, the overwhelming initial taste you get with a very hot pepper is the spice itself setting fire to your tastebuds. With that said, chili pepper connoisseurs are like wine connoisseurs – they can often detect hints of flavors and aromas, like fruity, sweet, smokey, and so on.
With the Trinidad Scorpion pepper, it is actually easier to detect these flavors on the first bite. This is because the spice in these peppers doesn’t hit you head-on – it sneaks up on you slowly and then overwhelms your senses.
In those very early seconds after your first bite, you will detect a pleasant and tender fruit-like flavor. This is not at all unusual, since most peppers grown in the Caribbean share this fruity flavor profile.
Different Forms of Scorpion Peppers and How to Use Them
Ever since it earned the title of the world’s hottest pepper, the Trinidad Scorpion pepper has seen increased demand from all corners of the globe. These days, you can find various Scorpion pepper cultivars available for sale in the following forms:
If you are an enthusiast who likes to grow your own chili peppers, you can buy authentic Trinidad Scorpion seeds. Be sure to do your research to see if the peppers can grow in your part of the world. And remember to buy your Scorpion pepper seeds from authentic and trusted sources.
All types of spice powders will lose their aroma and freshness relatively quickly. For maximum flavor, it’s best if you pick a whole pepper and do your own grinding or powdering. Whole peppers are also superlative if you want to make pepper mash and sauce at home (more on that later).
Chili pepper flakes are a versatile addition to any spice cabinet. These flakes are great if you need to add more spice to an already-cooked dish, like pizzas, pastas, rice bowls, and so on. They also give the dish some extra texture, which is another advantage they have over powders.
If you are looking to add spice to a dish during the marinade or cooking process, spice powders are your best bet. They give you more granular control over the heat level, which is always useful when cooking with one of the world’s hottest chili peppers!
A dry version of a hot sauce, pepper sriracha powder combines chili powders and dry ingredients to create products that you can use to bring extreme heat to your dips, marinades, and other recipes. Seasoning powder is easier to measure and use than hot sauce.
What Is Pepper Mash?
The main reason behind the popularity of pepper mash is the massive burst of flavor and aroma they bring to the table, along with extreme heat. If you simply grind some peppers and make a sauce, you will not get this level of flavor.
To achieve such complex, tangy, and delicious flavors, you have to first prepare the peppers by letting them ferment in a brine for a few weeks. This allows the compounds in the peppers to break down and create interesting new flavors.
How to Create Scorpion Pepper Mash
A pepper mash is nothing but ground peppers that have been allowed to ferment in a salt brine for at least a few weeks. Here is the basic step-by-step process of creating a scorpion pepper mash:
- Use a food processor or pestle-mortar to grind your scorpion peppers.
- Add salt to the peppers at the ratio of 1 teaspoon per pound of peppers (one cup of mash).
- Use plain salt instead of any fancy salts with additives for the best results.
- Place the mash in a jar and tightly pack it down to allow a layer of brine to form at the top.
- Leave some space of at least 1 inch between the lid and the top layer of the mash.
- Screw the lid and keep the jar away from direct sunlight, between 55°F to 75°F.
- Check daily to ensure that the mash has a layer of brine at the top to prevent bacterial growth.
- Periodically open the lid to allow fermented gases to escape.
- Allow the mash to ferment for at least 1–2 weeks and then use it to make any dishes you desire!
Another way to create mash is by placing cut scorpion chili peppers in a concentrated salt solution for a few weeks. After fermentation, just strain the peppers, grind them, and add some of the brine water and vinegar to make a mash.
You can also add other condiments and ingredients like garlic and vegetables during the fermentation process to enhance the flavor. Once the mash is ready, making a hot sauce is a relatively easy and straightforward process.
Or you can simply buy pepper mash already made for you!
Health Benefits of Using Scorpion Peppers
Many people wrongly assume that hot chili peppers cause stomach ulcers and other illnesses. In reality, capsaicin, the main ingredient in peppers, can actually help reduce the pain and discomfort caused by heartburn and acid reflux.
While spicy food may aggravate ulcer symptoms already present in some individuals, chili peppers do not directly cause ulcers. They actually encourage the body to release chemicals that fight those ulcers.
Apart from these benefits, regular consumption of chili peppers may have a positive role on your body in the following ways:
- Vitamins and Minerals – Trinidad Scorpion peppers and other chili peppers are rich in Vitamins C, B6, K1, and A, as well as essential minerals like potassium and copper. They are beneficial for your immunity, metabolism, and heart and bone health.
- Weight Loss – If you add Trinidad Scorpion pepper products to a healthy diet and combine it with exercise, it will boost your metabolism and help control your appetite. This could make it easier for your body to lose weight in the long run.
- Fight Cancer – Capsaicin has been shown to have a positive impact on preventing cancer cells from growing in our bodies. However, more research is needed to establish if we can use capsaicin from chili peppers to fight cancer effectively.
- Improve Longevity – Some studies indicate that the immune boosting and antimicrobial effects of chili peppers can lower your chances of early death by at least 13%. The ability of peppers to fight inflammation and obesity may play an active role here.
Where to Get Scorpion Peppers Online
If you want 100% authentic Trinidad Moruga Scorpion peppers with maximum potency and freshness, you can rely on Magic Plant Farms. We offer a wide range of products based on natural, organic Trinidad Scorpion chili peppers, including pepper mash, seasonings, dried chilies, and whole pods.
Here at Magic Plant Farms, we have Scorpion chili peppers alongside over 40 other pepper varieties from around the globe available to you. To learn more about our products, contact us today! And visit our online shop to get your own!