CSUB’s Hottest Pepper competition names fiery winner

November 7, 2008
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, kmiller26@csub.edu or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720, mnewell1@csub.edu
Hottest Pepper Fiery Winner Photo

The results are in and Richard McCoy of Bakersfield is Kern County's Hottest Pepper grower. McCoy, along with nine others, participated in California State University, Bakersfield's inaugural Hottest Pepper in Kern County competition last month.

CSUB chemistry students tested the submissions. "We were able to put the analytical skills of our students to work in a fun way that involved the community," said Roy LaFever, chemistry professor.

The students involved found the competition to be dually rewarding. "It was nice to be able to combine what we've learned in our research and share it with the public," said Summer Gibbons, chemistry student.

Peppers were analyzed using the Scoville index of peppers and a system for determining capsaicin levels. LaFever said the peppers they received were "impressive" and the Scoville ratings ranged from 65,000 to 450,000.

The hottest pepper in this year's competition was a red Caribbean variety of capsicum annum and had a Scoville rating of 450,000. The second place entry was also a red Caribbean that narrowly lost out to McCoy's entry by 20,000 Scoville units.

The Scoville scale is based on a taste test that uses dilutions of pepper extracts to determine the taste threshold. The dilution amount then corresponds with a Scoville rating. Some peppers are sweet and have a Scoville rating of nearly zero, where as the hottest peppers known have a rating of nearly one million.

Prizes included gift cards to Chili's restaurant and Lengthwise Brewery.

For additional information, contact LaFever at (661) 654-2336 or rlafever@csub.edu.