There are few things more memorable than the first time you consume a ghost pepper, or Bhut Jolokia, as it is also called.
The ghost pepper was not only the hottest pepper in the world at one point, but it has so much potency that it was almost used as a form of non-lethal explosive to control unruly crowds.
Whether you want to know how hot a ghost pepper is, what it looks like, or the nutrients a pepper would need to flourish in your own garden, stay tuned! We will be going over this heinously hot pepper in as much detail as you will find on the Internet.
How to Identify Ghost Peppers
There are a few key indicators that you are dealing with the dreaded ghost pepper and not some withered chili pepper.
The ghost pepper is an interesting pepper that comes in several different shades of color and measures anywhere between 2 to 3.5 inches in length and typically about 1 inch in width.
A typical ghost pepper will start green and gradually redden over time as the pepper begins to ripen fully.
Ghost peppers do come in several color variations, so you can’t always count on these peppers being scarlet in tone. A ghost pepper can be orange, yellow, white, dark brown, or even purple. Many of these colorful variants and their seeds are available to be purchased digitally as well.
Surprisingly, ghost peppers are actually quite sugary and tasty initially, unlike the battery acid flavor we may think they have. But this taste takes a brutal turn after about half a minute of consuming the pepper when the 855,000 to 1,041,427 Scoville units start to introduce themselves.
If you are one of those heat enthusiasts looking to punish their tongue for existing, expect the heat to last around half an hour or more. If you can handle the highest levels of heat imaginable, these are actually pretty delicious peppers that can be used in quite a few recipes to add a fruity kick.
Buying Ghost Peppers
Due to the recent trendiness of spicier peppers and their exposure in the media, it is easier than ever to get the spiciest peppers out there, ghost peppers included.
You can buy these pint-sized peppers crushed into a powder, dried out, or as is. Additionally, there are several rubs and sauces you can purchase as well.
A bag of these peppers will run you anywhere from $10 to $15 online, though pricing may vary as the amount increases.
If you intend to plant these peppers in your garden, a pack of 10 seeds will cost roughly around $4 to $6 online. Bigger franchises like Walmart mention the products in passing, although finding them at your local store may prove difficult.
Growing Ghost Peppers
These fear-inducing fruits are kind of a tricky plant to grow due to their origin coming from India. The overwhelming warmth and humidity of the ghost pepper’s native climate can prove problematic to replicate for most growers.
The germination process of these ghastly ghost peppers takes a solid stretch of time, typically somewhere close to 35 days. From planting seeds to pulling out peppers, the entire process will usually run close to 150 days, so the planter must remain diligent in their attention to these needy seeds.
Due to the need for a temperature and moisture level that is incredibly hard to mimic, most growers recommend growing these products inside your house or in a plant conservatory (greenhouse).
You will need nutrient-dense, high-yielding soil that measures a pH of 6.0 – 6.8. This soil will need to stay between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and must remain damp throughout the sprouting process, or you risk ruining the peppers.
If the soil is overly grainy or gritty, you will have to mix in organic material to keep on the safe side.
You also want to be careful that these peppers don’t fall victim to over-fertilization, which can ruin a batch. And these plants will need to be watered regularly, as forgetting can cause a shock to the yield that may prove lethal.
But the biggest concern when growing these peppers is the risk of snow, frost, or freezing temperatures negatively affecting the growth of the plant. If the temperature of the soil or environment falls too low, your harvest will never come to fruition.
And while these peppers are one of the hottest in the known world, they are also especially frail when growing and require a delicate touch. This is why it is so beneficial to grow these plants in a greenhouse to avoid the risk of inclement weather or foraging critters.
If You Don’t Grow Them in a Greenhouse
When it comes to lighting, it is possible to move these plants back and forth from an outside to an indoor location at nighttime.
This does introduce the risk of them becoming vulnerable to the sudden change in their surroundings, and the constant movement can also ruin the batch of peppers. So while it is possible, the risk of ruining your plants by attempting this method is uncomfortably high.
While nothing can replace the beneficial effects of natural lighting, it’s all or nothing if your plants experience unsafe temperature levels or unexpected, negative weather shifts. So a better method would be to keep them indoors and use indoor lighting, specifically fluorescent light bulbs.
Typically speaking, unless your climate can match the five months of brutal warmth and moisture levels of India, you really should grow these peppers in a greenhouse.
Harvesting Ghost Peppers
So you have gone through the painstaking task of lovingly nurturing these ghost peppers to their physical peak and can finally harvest them to do unthinkable damage to your taste buds. Well done!
When the ghost peppers start to feel solid and robust in your hand, it is a good sign that they are properly mature. You will also want to make sure that the color stands out, as dimmer coloring is a sign it needs to grow a bit further.
Now keep in mind that these peppers are unbelievably hot, not just for your mouth but also for your eyes, nose, and even skin. Due to this, it may be wise to pluck these potent peppers with a good pair of gloves on.
The same respect should be given when you undertake the unfortunate task of taking one of these to the mouth; throw on some gloves to cover your skin, and then double-check your life insurance policy.
Whether you have a taste for the spicier things in life or this is some weird cultural rite of passage, the ghost pepper is going to give you plenty to contend with.
If you are consuming these peppers for the first time, please be careful and only consume tiny pieces at first until you know what you are dealing with. Regardless, if this article hasn’t averted your temptation, nothing will, so best of luck!