True pepper people fight often fight over which peppers are the hottest in the world. They hang out in hot pepper forums and they can give you the Scoville Units for just about any pepper that you can name. And every year there's always a new hot pepper tale about some guy living in an exotic location such as India, Thailand or Hoboken who grew the hottest peppers ever. He was off the charts on the Scoville Scale but is still in the process of getting it certified or some other excuse that makes the tale sound more like an urban legend than a world record.
I am not one of those people.
I tried habaneros and thai dragons and they were good but they were just too hot. I'm not making pepper spray for self defense, I just want a good tasting spicy pepper. So every year I grow jalepenos. Jalepeno Peppers are delicious but they aren't known for being hot. In fact, compared to other peppers they're pretty mild.
So I've figured out how to grow Jalepenos that are hotter than usual. Not killer heat but just enough of a nice kick. First thing you need to do is leave the peppers on the plants as long as possible. Here it is in October and I've still got plenty of peppers in the garden. Some of these peppers have been on the plants for weeks. They get all red and black and full of cracks and these seem to be the qualities that are related to the heat content of a pepper.
Another way to make my peppers hotter is to stress the plants. Usually in the 2nd or 3rd week of August when the plants are well established, I stop watering them. However much it rains is the amount of water they get. This summer was great because there were a few dry spells that really stressed the plants. Now if they started wilting or looking sickly, I would give them a quick blast with the hose but I didn't have to do that this year.
So how hot are my jalepenos? Let's just say that they're won't be any tales of the hottest pepper ever coming out of New Jersey this year, but they're hot enough to make my Mother-In-Law start yelling and running for the kitchen to get some water. And who needs Scoville Units when you get your peppers to do that?