Scotch Bonnets are one of the hottest chillies, rating between 100,000 and 350,000 Scoville Units on the Scoville scale, the rating list for the pungency and heat of chillies. They rank right up there with the Habanero chilli.
The scotch bonnet is quite small, about an inch and a half in length and is round with dimples on top – it is sweeter than the standard long chilli we see most often in shops – and it is the staple chilli pepper used in Caribbean, West African and Jamaican cooking. Jerk spice used in Jamaican cooking relies on the Scotch bonnet along with other spices including allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme, garlic and salt.
You can find green, yellow and red scotch bonnet chillies but the red one is a good one to use in a dish if you are eating in dim light at a dinner party or if the chilli is used in a dark dish like a curry or stew: your guests can see the red chilli and decide whether to eat it. If you use a green chilli, it disappears into the dish and people who are not keen on eating too much chilli can’t avoid it.
Always be careful when you are cooking with a hot chilli. Wear gloves or a plastic bag on your hands when cutting them; never put your hands to your eyes or any part of your body before you have washed your hands thoroughly and always check with the people you are cooking for whether they can eat chillies. Some people are very allergic to capsaicin and the hotter the chilli, the worse the reaction.
Read more about growing different varieties of Scotch Bonnet Chillies here: from the sweet Scotch bonnet to the brown Scotch Bonnet Chocolate variety which is a Jamaican pepper with a hot, fruity, smoky flavour.