This assessment of the hotness of peppers was proposed by the American chemist Wilbur Scoville in 1912. At that time, it looked like this: He handed out to the tasters an extract from various varieties of pepper and calculated how much sweetened water should be drunk in order not to feel the hotness of the pepper. There were five such judge-testers in total. The unit of measurement was the amount of water drunk by the tasters. Due to the differences in tastes' perceptions, these results were imprecise, to say the least. Nevertheless, the unit of pungency of the pepper was named after Scoville. His attempt to measure the pungency of a pepper was the first.
The Scoville Scale Units (ECU) give an estimate of the quantitative content of capsaicin (so the pungency of a pepper is due to the content of this substance) and is based on organoleptic testing of pepper extracts.
In the first two places of the table are pure capsacin (15 million) and pepper spray (2-5.3 million), and in the third place of honor is the hottest pepper in the world Bhut Jolokia, which grows in India. Its pungency index is over 1, 000, 000 SHU (Scoville Pungency Units).
Although pungent taste is not currently included in the main flavors, it is considered as a very important characteristic of spices for the food industry, as it is associated with the perception of substances that stimulate "heat" receptors. Substances with a "pungent taste" excite the branches of the trigeminal nerve and contribute to the "pure gustatory" sensation.
Interestingly, pure capsaicin (capsaicin) - the substance due to which pepper has a pungency does not dissolve in cold water, it dissolves well in alcohol. Therefore, it makes little sense to drink pepper with plain water.
Many substances are offered as an antidote for burning chili, including water, milk, sugar, bread, citrus fruits, beer, and other sodas. In theory, such substances can either dilute capsaysicin, or, like bread, can absorb it. The problem is that capsaysicin surrounds the nerve receptor sites in the mouth and cannot be easily expelled or diluted. Remember that capsaycin is very well diluted with alcohol, fats, but not miscible with water.
In 1990, researchers at the University of California Davis, Christina Wu Nasrawi, and Marie Pangborn reported that a 10% sucrose solution at 20 degrees C effectively dissolves capsicin (like milk at 5 degrees). The effectiveness of sugar in warm water is confirmed by oriental folk recipes for removing excessive pungency in the mouth. For example, waiters in Thailand reduce the spiciness of dishes by throwing sugar lumps in them, and that seasoning sets in Thai restaurants often include a small can of sugar. However, the most effective pepper fire extinguisher is milk, or rather casein (milk protein). Casein is a phosphoprotein that acts as a laundry detergent and removes capsicin from nerve endings.