Food and Drink
The Dorset Naga chilli
Dorset's Naga chilli
Like your food hot? Well a Dorset couple think they've grown the hottest chilli pepper in the world. The story of the world-record breaking Dorset Naga begins in Bangladesh and ends up in a polytunnel in the village of West Bexington.
The Dorset Naga chilli is almost twice as hot as the current world record holder. It has been cultivated by curry lovers Joy and Michael Michaurd at their home in West Bexington near Dorchester.
The chilli was developed from a Bangladeshi pepper they bought at an Oriental food shop in Bournemouth, and is sold with a health warning.
The seeds are so potent handlers must wear gloves and cut the peppers outside in a strong wind so it doesn't sting their eyes.
Although Nagas are grown in temperatures of well over 100 degrees in Bangladesh, the Dorset variety were cultivated in unheated polythunnels.
When Joy and Michael sent some of the crop to a US laboratory for testing the chilli experts there couldn't believe the readings they were getting from the pepper samples.
Is this the hottest chilli in the world?
It registered an average score of 923,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), which is 346,000 more than the current Guinness world record holder, the Red Savina.
'It's like winning the lottery'
Speaking to the BBC, Michael said: "We were absolutely shocked because this kind of thing just doesn't happen. It's like winning the lottery. And in West Bexington - in England - on the south coast! This sort of thing just doesn't happen - but it did!"
Joy and Michael are now seeking Plant Variety Protection from DEFRA, which will mean that no one else can sell the seeds.
The couple run a mail order firm called Peppers by Post and have sold a quarter of a million of the Dorset Naga chillies to customers all over the world, in one year alone.
Michael Michaud runs workshops for keen gardeners and cooks looking to find out more about chilli peppers.
Called 'What's Hot, What's Not' the course explores the unique and diverse world of peppers and how they are used in Bangladeshi, Mexican and West Indian cooking.
More details can be found by clicking on the link to their website.
last updated: 23/10/2008 at 15:53
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