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What Are 7-Pot Chili Peppers and How Hot are They?

Hot peppers around the world are known for various characteristics, from their heat and flavor to their agricultural history. Chili lovers are constantly searching for varieties that offer both heat and unforgettable flavor. So what makes the 7-pot pepper stand out among the rest?

7-pot chili peppers are one of the hottest peppers in the world. They’re a variety of Capsicum Chinense originally from Trinidad. They’re also rare, with their seeds and fruits hard to find outside of the Caribbean. Some people eat them, but you can also use them to keep barnacles off boat bottoms.

The 7-pot chili pepper is relatively rare but growing in popularity among chili heads. Super-hot peppers have been gaining popularity since the early 1990s, and the 7-pot pepper is no exception. Read on to learn more about this incredible and versatile pepper. 

Photo of super hot peppers ripening on the vine

Where Do 7-Pot Chili Peppers Come From?

7-pot chili peppers are originally from Trinidad, an island in the Caribbean. The name is said to come from the idea that you can use just one pepper to spice up seven pots of stew. The scientific name is Capsicum chinense, which is the same pepper family as Habaneros.

All peppers in this family are native to the Caribbean and the parts of the Americas close to the equator. 7-pot chilis grow naturally in these warm, tropical environments, though it’s possible to cultivate them in cooler areas as well.

The seeds and fruits of 7-pot chilis are hard to find in the average supermarket outside of Trinidad and Tobago. However, in recent years, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute has been working to develop the hot pepper industry on the islands. Demand for unique and rare hot peppers is rising, so 7-pot chilis and their related cultivars are slowly becoming more common outside of the Caribbean.

What Are the Characteristics of 7-Pot Chili Peppers?

7-pot chili peppers have a small pepper fruit, usually about two inches (six cms.) tall. They’re round, much closer to a bell shape than a bean shape. Their skin is wrinkly and puckered, or occasionally pimply. Even when they’re ripe, the fruits appear dried out by the sun.

The plants they grow on typically grow to be about three feet (just under one meter) tall, with large leaves. Before fruiting, the plants produce white and cream-colored flowers. These will eventually bud and become the familiar red, spicy pepper pods.

Most types of 7-pot chili are bright red when they’re ripe, but new cultivars and variations come in various colors, such as yellow or chocolate-brown. New fruits start out green, then gradually take on their final color as they mature. Colors other than red come from newer cultivars and crossbred species of pepper.

Aside from the intense heat, these peppers have a sweet, nutty flavor, similar to that of a Habanero pepper. This flavor is often described as fruity, adding depth to the overarching spiciness.

How Hot Are 7-Pot Chili Peppers?

The 7-pot chili pepper is one of the top ten hottest peppers in the world. It measures between 1 and 1.2 million Scoville heat units (SHU), which is almost 500 times hotter than a Jalapeño pepper. The Scoville heat unit measures how much capsaicin is in a pepper’s inner membrane that supports the seeds and looks like ribs known as the placenta or pith.

The Capsicum Chinense pepper species are all hot, and most of the super-hot chilis in the world belong to this family. These peppers contain more capsaicin than other varieties, and that’s what gives them their intense heat. Any time you’re handling a 7-pot chili, either fresh or dried, use caution and avoid touching your eyes, as the capsaicin will trigger a burning sensation.

Currently, the hottest pepper in the world is the Carolina Reaper pepper, which measures 2 million Scoville heat units. The previous record-holder for hottest pepper was the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T, which is also a relative of the 7-pot chili.

What Are the Different Varieties of 7-Pot Chili Peppers?

Pepper growers who love crossbreeding varieties have been using 7-pot varieties for years to ensure the combined creation is flaming hot. One popular variety of 7-pot was developed in the Louisiana in the United States called the 7-Pot Primo. It combines the 7-pot chili with the Naga Morich pepper from India.

In the Caribbean, there are a handful of common 7-pot varieties. They’re the Douglah or Chocolate 7-pot, the Jonah 7-pot, and the Brain Strain. All of these varieties are part of the Capsicum chinense species, but there is some debate as to whether they’re entirely different varieties or not. 

Other close relatives of the 7-pot chili are the Scotch bonnet and Scorpion peppers, also from Trinidad. 

Can You Grow Your Own 7-Pot Chili Peppers?

If you want to grow these varieties and find out for yourself what the difference is, you can. These varieties grow best in warm, humid environments, like their relatives in other parts of the world. Home-growers can mimic this environment with heating pads, grow tents, and grow lights, if you have the seeds.

Most of the seeds for sale in the United States are for cultivars that were crossbred in the country. However, with Trinidad’s growing program for increasing their involvement in the pepper trade, new seeds are becoming available all the time.

What Are 7-Pot Chili Peppers Used For?

The most obvious use for a 7-pot chili pepper is culinary. Despite their enormously high Scoville rating, many people who love peppers are willing to eat one but maybe only once. Powders and sauces made from these peppers are a more common usage. However, there are other uses for 7-pot chilis that many may find surprising!

Non-Culinary Uses

Research that began in the 1990s and continues today suggests that mixing capsaicin with antifouling paint can help keep barnacles and mussels off the bottom of boats. Traditional antifouling paint contains harmful levels of copper, which has led people to begin using capsaicin to repel the barnacles instead. People may use 7-pot peppers to create potent capsaicin extracts to mix in with the paint.

Similarly, capsaicin is used in pepper spray and a more aggressive chili-based weapon, the chili grenade. The hottest peppers with the most capsaicin are the best source of capsaicin for these non-lethal tools. The 7-pot chili pepper is said to be an ingredient in Trinidad’s military-strength pepper spray.

While tear gas and anti-barnacle paint are certainly innovative uses for chilis, their primary use is still eating. A brave few even eat super-hot chili peppers competitively. Chili festivals and chili eating contests happen every year, featuring people eating peppers not only for their flavor but mostly for the glory, and the 7-pot chili pepper and their spicy relatives are a staple in these competitions.

Closing Thoughts

Native to Trinidad, the 7-pot chili pepper and its varieties and cultivars make up a family of super-hot peppers. The fruits provide a sweet and nutty flavor that makes the intense heat worth it for the brave. These small, wrinkly peppers pack a lot of power into their red pods.

These peppers are special because they are rare outside of their island of origin and are some of the hottest peppers on the planet. However, as more agriculturists crossbreed and experiment with peppers and Trinidad increases its export of the fruits, the 7-pot might become more common.