Jamaicans love to cook and when they do, flavor plays an important role. Pepper is one of the main ingredients that Jamaicans use to flavor their dishes and Scotch Bonnet pepper is the pepper of choice for most Jamaicans and other Caribbean countries.
Jerk, a style of cooking meat that Jamaica is known for, also involves the use of Scotch Bonnet pepper. In fact, Scotch Bonnet pepper is one of the main ingredients in Jerk seasonings and sauces. Jamaicans also use Scotch Bonnet peppers when making their famous Escovitch Fish. In the preparation of Jerk Chicken, Pork and Escovitch Fish, the Scotch Bonnet pepper is used for both its flavour and heat. The Scotch Bonnnet pepper is also chopped or minced and marinated on meat over night or added to the food in the early stage of cooking. The green unripe Scotch Bonnet pepper on the other hand is often used whole to enhance the flavour of soups and Rice and Peas dishes.
Scotch Bonnet peppers are used to make famous Caribbean hot pepper sauces. Some of the Jamaican made hot pepper sauces are available for purchase on our website. Hot pepper sauce can be used as a condiment. It can also be used to season meat, fish and poultry. If you are not a hot pepper lover because of the heat, you can use the pepper sauce in moderation for its flavor.
The Scotch Bonnet pepper is named for its resemblance to a bonnet, called Tam o’ Shanter hat. The pepper is native to the Caribbean islands and Central America.
Some varieties of the Scotch Bonnet pepper can ripen to red, orange, yellow, peach, chocolate brown or even white. The white Scotch Bonnet pepper is very rare to find and usually has the most heat.
Bet you did not realise that the flavor and heat, as with any chilli, adapts to the region and soil it is grown in. Thus, varieties will differ slightly in spice, sweetness and even shape.
So what does a Scotch Bonnet pepper taste like? The taste has been described as slightly sweet taste, a bit like a tomato with a hint of apples and cherries. This sweetness makes the Scotch Bonnet a very popular chilli for Caribbean cooking and hot sauces. It is a really distinct sweet-heat flavor that a lot of people love.
The Scotch Bonnet pepper is very closely related to the habanero, so if you’ve tasted a habanero you’ll have a decent idea of what a Scotch Bonnet has in store for you in terms of heat. But just add in more sweetness.
In the Caribbean a pepper is considered hot if it ‘burns going in and burns coming out’. However, there are 2 other scales of heat measurement, Scoville and American Spice Trade Association (ASTA).
The Scoville Scale measures the concentration of capsaicin, the active compound responsible for pepper spice. The capsaicin oil is extracted from the dried pepper and mixed with a solution of water and sugar to the point where a panel of taste-testers can barely detect the heat of the pepper. The pepper is assigned Scoville units based on how much the oil was diluted with water in order to reach this point.
Tasters on the panel taste one sample per session so that the results from one sample don’t interfere with subsequent testing. Even so, the test is subjective because it relies on human taste, so it is inherently imprecise.
Other plants produce spicy hot chemicals which can also be measured using the Scoville Scale, including piperine from black pepper and gingerol from ginger.
ASTA uses high-performance liquid chromatography to accurately measure the concentration of spice-producing chemicals.
The Scotch Bonnet is a hot pepper, rating 100,000 to 350,000 units on the Scoville Scale.
In a field of natural and human engineered peppers the Scotch Bonnet rates 21 in ascending order of heat. The number 1 is the Carolina Reaper, engineered by combining peppers from St Vincent and Pakistan.
How to Stop Peppers Burning
Ever tried drinking water to reduce that pepper burn? You will remember it did not work as capsaicin is not water soluble. Did you then try drinking alcohol? That only made it worse as the capsaicin dissolves in alcohol and gets spread around your mouth.
The capsaicin molecule binds to pain receptors, so the trick is to either neutralize alkaline capsaicin with an acidic food or drink, such as soda and citrus or surround the capsaicin molecule with a fatty food such as yogurt, sour cream or cheese. Now you know how to stop the burning, are you ready for a taste test? Why not try cooking with the hot jerk seasoning paste.
Did you find this article helpful? Let us know by joining us on Facebook.