What is the Trinidad Scorpion?
The Trinidad Scorpion is a variety of the Capsicum chinense species, which is the bonnet family of peppers. The Trinidad Scorpion strongly resembles the habanero and the Scotch Bonnet—but the Trinidad Scorpion has both of these peppers beat with its extreme heat!
Trinidad Scorpion versus Carolina Reaper
Second place may generally be considered a losing position, but in the case of the World’s Hottest Peppers, that’s not necessarily true. The Trinidad Scorpion is currently second on the World’s Hottest Pepper list. It has an average rating of 1,200,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) with the hottest Trinidad Scorpions measuring 2,009,231 SHU. Currently, the number one spot belongs to the Carolina Reaper, which has a max of 2,200,000 SHU and has an average of 1,641,000 SHU. So, although the Carolina Reaper is generally hotter than the Trinidad Scorpion, sometimes the Trinidad Scorpion wins for heat. It really just depends on the time and place of measurement. They are typically neck-and-neck competitors.
The Scoville Heat Scale
Scoville Heat Units help measure the pungency of hot peppers. Pepper enthusiasts have been using it for over a century to rate the hottest pepper, long before Guinness invented their Top 10 World’s Hottest Pepper list. The greater the number of Scoville Heat Units the more intense the heat.
Hot peppers get their heat from the capsaicin oil, which is extracted and then tested to come up with a SHU rating. The capsaicin oil is housed in the placenta portion of the fruit. The Trinidad Scorpion is pretty much just a placenta, which makes it especially spicy. It’s impossible to escape the capsaicin burn.
The heat from the Trinidad Scorpion builds. You won’t taste it much at first, but eventually, the heat will hit you, and you’ll understand why the pepper has such an impressive Scoville rating. Although the Trinidad Scorpion underwent testing at New Mexico State University’s Chili Pepper Institute in 2012, it was never certified as World’s Hottest Pepper by the Guinness Book of World Records. Aside from the extreme heat, the Trinidad Scorpion has hints of fruity, almost sweet flavor. There are also floral notes, but it might be hard to detect any flavor in the midst of its extreme heat.
The Trinidad Scorpion at a Glance
The Trinidad scorpion has glossy, smooth skin with grooves that run from the top to the bottom of the pepper. Like the Carolina Reaper, the Trinidad Scorpion has a long, thin tail at the bottom of the pepper. It bears a strong resemblance to a scorpion’s tail. This is exactly where the pepper gets its name!
As the pepper grows, it changes from green to golden yellow to red. As the pepper progresses through each of these three colors, its heat continues to increase. The hottest Trinidad Scorpions are fiery red. Trinidad Scorpions are small peppers that measure between one-half to one-inch wide by two to three inches long. These peppers have a squatty, pod-like shape that looks like other bonnet peppers.
Cooking with the Trinidad Scorpion
If you’re going to cook with a Trinidad Scorpion, exercise caution. Wear gloves while handling and chopping the pepper. Sometimes you might need two pairs just to be on the safe side. Even though your hands are the only part of you that should come into contact with the Trinidad Scorpion, you should cover as much of your skin as possible. Wear long-sleeves, protective goggles, and a mask for maximum protection. You should take the same safety precautions if you’re cooking with Trinidad Scorpion pepper flakes or some other spice derived from Trinidad Scorpion. If what you’re cooking will produce a lot of smoke or steam, a mask will protect you from inhaling too much of the dangerous heat.
When you’re finished chopping and handling the pepper, wash your hands immediately. Be careful not to absentmindedly touch your face or rub your eyes. Keep the windows open to keep the air moving. Just breathing in the peppers can cause damage.
If you want to amp up the heat in one of your favorite recipes, the Trinidad Scorpion is the perfect way to do it. Just make sure that if the recipe calls for a traditional (i.e. milder) hot pepper, tone down the measurements of the pepper. Usually, you only need one Trinidad Scorpion to heat up your favorite recipe. Ordinarily, you could remove some of the inner flesh of the pepper to make the heat more bearable. But with the Trinidad Scorpion, that’s pretty much impossible. The seeds also pack a big punch, so removing them will help you tone down the heat a little.
You can add a Trinidad Scorpion to pretty much any recipe that calls that for hot peppers. Chili, salsa, guacamole, and barbeque sauce are some classic hot pepper dishes that are exceptionally good with Trinidad Scorpions. These peppers make great hot sauces and spice rubs. But don’t forget that they aren’t for the faint of heart! If you’re not sure if you’ll be able to take the heat, have a glass of milk at the ready to extinguish a potential fire. A dairy product like yogurt or cheese will also successfully extinguish the Trinidad’s Scorpion sting.
Health Benefits of the Trinidad Scorpion
If you can get past the intense heat, you’ll be rewarded! The Trinidad Scorpion has many great health benefits, like its fellow hot peppers. You’ll experience a pleasant rush of endorphins when you’re eating a hot pepper. This will boost your mood and make you feel happy. As surprising as it may sound, hot peppers are actually great for your digestive tract. If you tend to get ulcers, you may have been told you should avoid spicy foods. But hot peppers can actually be good for you if you have an ulcer. If you have an upset stomach, reach for Trinidad Scorpion (or at least use it in a favorite recipe). It’s a natural, successful stomach settler.
How Trinidad Scorpions Grow
You can thank farmer Wahid Ogeer for breeding the first Trinidad Scorpion in Moruga in Trinidad and Tobago. These peppers are harvested between the late spring and early summer. You’ll obviously find these peppers with ease in Trinidad and Tobago, but they are also common in the Americas and Australia. These plants grow in mildly warm temperatures and super-hot ones. The best weather for growing Trinidad Peppers is around eighty degrees Fahrenheit (thirty degrees Celsius). As a general rule, the hotter the weather, the hotter the pepper the climate will produce. The plants that bear Trinidad Scorpions produce hundreds of chili pods.
Although this pepper may fall just short of the World’s Hottest Pepper, we don’t think that this pepper is lacking anything! Trinidad Scorpions are super-hot and beloved by chili heads all over the world. They are packed with health benefits and, best of all, they taste great!
Interest in Trinidad Scorpion Peppers Over Time
Other Sonoran Spice Guides
Sonoran Spice Trinidad Scorpion Products
We offer a wide range of Trinidad Scorpion pepper products from peppers, powder, & flakes to candies, popcorn, jerky and more.
NMSU’s Chile Pepper Institute names the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion hottest pepper on earth
Trinidad Scorpion Pepper Facts
Health Benefits of Hot Peppers
Let’s Live Forever – Trinidad Scorpion – Wahid Ogeer
Trinidad Scorpion Pepper Products
Sonoran Spice Blog – Scoville Scale Guide