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What Are Scoville Heat Units?

Have you ever eaten a hot sauce so hot, so spicy, that it filled your mouth with hot, steaming lava and made your eyes water like a broken sprinkler?

Have you ever tasted a sauce that made you feel like the inside of your mouth was transforming into a four-alarm fire that made you sprint for the nearest gallon of milk? If you have – and we all have at some point – you’ve encountered real, mouth-smokin’ heat in the form of Scoville heat units (SHU).

Scoville heat units are the measurement units for determining just how hot and spicy a food is. In other words, we measure the intensity of a food – like a hot sauce – in Scoville units. It’s like the Richter scale for earthquakes; the bigger the number, the more intense the experience.

And some of these experiences are like massive 9.0 earthquakes in your mouth.

Scoville Heat Units, Your Mouth, and You

SHUs are found on a scale called the Scoville scale. It was created by an enterprising American pharmacist named Wilbur Scoville way back in 1912.

Wilbur wanted to measure just how hot certain chili peppers were. Our guess is that back then, there were some pretty toasty peppers being passed around that were great at making people pass out at parties. Wilbur decided to create a test called the Scoville Organoleptic Test to measure the concentration of capsaicin – a diabolical substance found in spicy foods that puts the “please help me” in “heat”.M

Generally speaking, the more concentrated the capsaicin, the hotter a food will be. Of course, some of this is subjective; the test involves giving an extract of the substance to five trained tasters and measuring their responses.

But still, it’s a good way to determine just how much a pepper will melt your mouth from the inside out.

Understanding the Scoville Scale (I.e. What Not to Eat)

The results are then plotted on the Scoville scale in terms of SHUs. The more SHUs in a substance, the hotter it is.

Starting at the bottom of the scale, at a big fat zero, is our neighborhood-friendly bell pepper. Just above the bell pepper are foods like the banana pepper, paprika, and pepperoncini. These are the 100-900 range.

The next category, 1,000 to 4,000 SHUs, includes everyone’s favorite “hot” pepper, the jalapeño pepper. Right above the jalapeño (which, while spicy, isn’t nearly as tough as some of the other peppers above it), is everyone’s favorite hot sauce, Tabasco sauce, which clocks in at a maximum of 5,000 SHUs.

Now, some of you might think that Tabasco sauce is plenty hot for you. If that’s the case, stop reading right now – because there are plenty of sauces that put Tabasco to shame when it comes to mouth-scorching goodness.

At 10,000 Scoville units, we find the delightful chipotle smoke-dried jalapeño. Above that, at 50,000 to 65,000, we find a lovely Chile de árbol, which is ten times as spicy and intense as Tabasco. If you’ve eaten spicy Chinese or Mexican food, you’ve probably eaten one of these (in small form). They’re pretty spicy – but it gets worse. Much worse.

The Scoville scale doesn’t top out at 100,000, where you’lll find the malagueta pepper or piri piri. It keeps going, well past habaneros (100,000 to 350,000 SHUs) and the Red Savina habanero (350,000 to 580,000 SHUs) to peppers that rank in the millions.

In fact, you can go to YouTube right now and find videos of people eating one of the world’s hottest peppers, the bhut jokokia, or ghost pepper. This ferocious beast clocks in at over one million SHUs and causes intense pain when eaten raw and whole. That should make you sweat just reading it.

As intense as the ghost pepper is, though, it’s not the top dog. That honor belongs to the Carolina Reaper, bred in South Carolina. How hot is the Carolina Reaper? Guiness World Records certified the Reaper as the world’s hottest pepper – with a Scoville rating of over 2,200,000 SHUs.

We’d do the math as to how many times hotter that is than Tabasco sauce, but we’re pretty sure it’d make us pass out.

Remember: Scoville Units Are Your Friend

The next time you eat spicy foods, especially those made from sauces, pay attention to the Scoville scale. Check the Scoville rating for the food, and make sure you can handle it. Otherwise, call the fire department before you eat, because you’ll need them.

5 Sausage Manufacturing Tips

Everyone loves sausage. Sausage is not just a ridiculously good breakfast food; it is also a mainstay of grills and tailgates and everything that is great about eating.

You can find stellar sausage products at establishments ranging from local mom-and-pop diners to fine-dining restaurants. Tastes range from mild and succulent to savory, rich, and filled with spicy flavor.

If you want to make your own sausage for your establishment, that’s great – sausages go well with anything and are terrific on their own. To help you in your endeavor, and to ensure you get the best sausages fit for a king’s royal plate, here are a few excellent sausage manufacturing tips.

Grinding Your Own Meat

You can buy pre-ground meat from a butcher, but if you have the capability of grinding your own meat, you should do so – it just adds to the authentic sausage manufacturing experience. One of the biggest headaches during the grinding process is dealing with bones. Thus, to make for a more efficient process, choose a cut of meat that doesn’t have as many bones to deal with. Pork shoulder roasts are great; they usually contain only 10 percent bone by total weight, so there’s less to deal with. You can also get spare ribs done country-style.

Choose the Right Meat

When picking the meat for your sausage – whether or not you grind it yourself – don’t go too lean. We all need to be healthy – especially us, because we love food too much – but using a meat that is too lean will result in dry, crumbly sausage that could fall apart once you slice it.

Beef and Pork Sausage should be at least 30% fat. Chicken Sausage will be around 15 to 20% fat.

When It Comes to Casings, Quality Matters

You may not think the quality of the casing really matters – after all, who pays attention to the casing over the savory goodness of the meat – but the opposite is true: casing matters. Using a poor-quality casing can result in your sausage bursting, which is never good. It’s also slower to manufacture sausages with bad casings. Instead, find solid, all-natural casings like hog and sheep. Thirty-two millimeter hog casings are recommended for dinner sausage. Twenty-one millimeter sheep casings are perfect for breakfast links.

Temperature Matters Too

When stuffing your sausage into the casings, make sure your mix is at the right temperature. For example, if you use your grinder with a special attachment to fill the casings, you want to make sure you first chill the mix. This is to help your grinder’s feed better push it through into your casing. Just below 32 degrees Fahrenheit is great. Cold heat will result in superior particle definition and prevent smearing.

Use Meat Seasoning to Spice Up Your Sausage

As a provider of fine food seasonings, our hearts ache whenever someone makes sausage without spicing their meat mixture beforehand.

Folks, sausage is meant to be seasoned. It’s meant to be savory and succulent. A sausage needs to have that extra kick to it that makes it pop with flavor. That’s why we strongly recommend using a meat seasoning blend to make your sausage full of flavor and stand out from the crowd.

Have questions? Need more sausage manufacturing tips? Contact us and we’d be glad to help. After all, it’s all about the sausage.

Hot and Spicy

It is easy to make a spice/hot version of an existing fresh or smoked sausage by adding one ounce of ground red pepper, or one half each of ground red and crushed red pepper per 25 pounds of meat.


An even distribution of curing salt into a comminuted product will insure consistent color development. Consider mixing Curing Salt 6.25% Sodium Nitrite with a small amount of water prior to adding to the meat block. This will allow the curing ingredients to go into solution and provide better dispersion through the meat block.