The Carolina Reaper – infamous as the world’s hottest chilli pepper – is for the first time being commercially grown in the UK and now on sale in Tesco stores across the country.
In a press release, the retail chain said the pepper is about 400 times hotter than a jalapeno, the chilli pepper commonly used on spicy take away and supermarket pizzas.
The Carolina Reaper will be sold as part of Tesco’s new Komodo Dragon brand of super-hot chilli peppers and will be marked with a blue flash label. It will be available in more than 130 Tesco stores at a price of £1 for a packet of 2-3 chilli peppers.
Tesco chilli pepper buyer Phoebe Burgess said despite being astonishingly hot, the pepper also has a wonderful fruity taste, with just a sliver is needed to add exciting flavour to a curry.
“Last year the Komodo Dragon became our most popular chilli pepper ever and since then we’ve been inundated with requests from customers to see if we could go one better and thanks to the fantastic growing skills of our chilli producer we’ve done that,” Burgess said.
The Carolina Reaper is being grown by the UK’s largest producer of chilli peppers, Salvatore Genovese, whose seven acre farm is based in Blunham, Bedfordshire.
Genovese started growing chilli peppers 15 years ago after taking over his parents’ cucumber business. Since then, chilli peppers have become so popular that he now grows about one million, or 15 tons, a week just to satisfy UK demand.
“Chilli pepper culture has become very popular in the UK over the last five years and on the back of the acclaim I’ve received from supplying Tesco I now get requests from all over the world,” Genovese said.
How hot is the Carolina Reaper?
Tesco said the Carolina Reaper is officially the hottest chilli pepper in the world, according to the Guinness Book Of Records, measuring an average 1.5 million Scovilles, the unit used to measure heat in a chilli pepper.
The Komodo Dragon has a 1.4 million Scoville heat rating.
Tesco said it has become well known for its top of the heat range chilli peppers and in recent years has stocked the Trinidad Scorpion, Bhut Jolokia and Bedfordshire Super Naga.