Cool Stuff About Hot Sauce
January 31, 2017
Hot sauce is frequently on the menu for astronauts in space. Why? Because without gravity, the fluid distribution in an astronaut's body changes, blocking the nasal passages and therefore the ability to smell and a sense of smell is important for tasting food. So hot sauce and other strong tasting condiments are frequently used by astronauts in an attempt to give their food so flavor. Wouldn't it be fun to send some Kaitaia Fire Hot Sauce up to the International Space Station?!
Speaking of endorphins, legend has it that Japanese samurai would eat chili peppers before going into battle so that they feel fearless! Perhaps with all the endorphins released they also felt less pain since capsaicin overwhelms the nerve system so that the body can't transmit pain signals to the brain, and it also desensitizes the skin's sensory receptors.
Unlike humans, and other mammals, birds receptor cells are insensitive to capsaicin so birds can eat extremely hot peppers without burning their beaks. This is a chilis natural way of increasing its chance of survival. The seeds go through birds undigested and with a birds ability to fly, the chili seeds get dispersed properly. When mammals eat the seeds, they would either be destroyed by their molars, digested in their guts or if they do go through the animal's system, it's probably deposited close to the parent plant.
Knowing that birds don’t react to capsaicin, innovative farm-to-table, New York chef Dan Barber regularly fed his hens high-carotenoid chili paste mixed in their food. The result? Fiery red eggs!
The first hot sauce available in the USA was in 1807 and Tobasco is America’s oldest living hot sauce brand. It was first introduced to America in 1868 so it shares the honor of being one of America’s oldest living brands along with other old-timers such as, Levi Strauss (1873), American Express (1850), The New York Times (1851) and Tiffany and Co (1851).
Ounce for ounce chili peppers contain more Vitamin C than oranges and more Vitamin A than carrots. In fact, chilis have lots of health benefits, and a 2015 study found that people who ate chili everyday had a 14% decrease in mortality. Furthermore, the smashing or raw chilis to make hot sauce can help release some of the beneficial compounds.
Chili heat is measured in Scovile Heat Units (SHU), a somewhat subjective scale created by American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville in 1912. Bell peppers, which have been cultivated to be sweet and low in capsaicin, have 0 SHU. Cayenne peppers, used in Kaitaia Fire Chili Sauce are around 30,000 - 50,000 SHU. Habanero peppers, used in the Waha Wera Habanero and Kiwi sauce are hotter, from 100,000 up to 400,000 SHU. The peppers that are being bred to rival the world’s hottest pepper are getting up over a million SHU and law enforcement grade capsaicin used in pepper spray is 5,000,000 SHU.
Capsaicin is an oil, and we all know oil and water doesn’t mix – so when your mouth is burning, water will just spread the heat around. Casein, a protein found in milk, yoghurt and cheese will help cool it down – or if you prefer, wash your hot curry down with a beer. The alcohol breaks down the capsaicin and the carbonation and coolness also helps ease the heat.
One out of 4 people in the world eat chili pepper every day particularly in geographically hotter climates such as Mexico, India, Thailand and sub-Saharan Africa. Salmonella can take much of the credit for this. Thousands of years ago people worked out that capsaicin kills food poisoning bacteria and so chilis were added to food to stop people getting sick. Bacteria grows faster in the heat so it became more important in hotter climates than, for example, the less spicy cuisines of Northern Europe.
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