Have you ever wondered what makes hot sauces hot?

First of all, you have to know that there is no hot sauce without chilli peppers.

Hot sauce is a type of condiment, seasoning, or salsa made from chilli peppers as a common ingredient, which adds a distinctive taste to food.

Its first appearances trace back to the ancient Aztecs in Mexico. They began cultivating chillis, and hot sauce has been a key component of Mexican cuisine and culture ever since. 

Chiliarcheologists have traced back the domestication of chilis to the Tehuacán Valley in Mexico around 5000 BC, and found that Aztecs combined chilli peppers with water and use it for flavour but also for medicinal purposes.  

Then it was brought by the Europeans when they invaded, conquered, and eventually settled Latin America and in a blink of an eye, hot sauce went global.

But what makes it hot?

The heat, or burning sensation, is a chemical interaction with the neurological system caused by a chemical compound called capsaicin, which produces a sensation of burning in any tissue with which it comes into contact.

Capsaicinoids are fat-soluble and therefore water will be of no assistance when countering the burn. The most effective way to relieve the burning sensation is with products such as milk and yoghurt. Rice is also useful for mitigating the impact, especially when it is included with a mouthful of hot food. Mechanical stimulation of the mouth by chewing food will also partially mask the pain sensation.

The Scoville Scale is a measurement of the spiciness or “heat” of chilli peppers, as recorded in Scoville Heat Units (SHU), based on the concentration of capsaicinoids and it indicates how many times something must be diluted with an equal volume of water until people can no longer feel any sensation from the capsaicin.

So now that you know why hot sauces are hot, which one would you dare to try on the Scoville Scale?

MB for FatFeedsUKDisclosures

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