Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Trinidad Scorpion Butch T Chilli

This year I am growing a few different varieties of chilli, ranging from sweet and mild to extremely and pointlessly hot, I am growing a mix of both remarkably rare and the extremely common.

I plan to isolate them all with bags and save seed.  I have some super rare varieties that were collected in remote villages and the like, very exciting.  The hottest variety of chilli that I am growing is Trinidad Scorpion Butch T (Capsicum chinese). This is a remarkable variety that I thought was worthy of a blog post, I will have to find the pictures of its fruit and add them to this post later.

A few years ago I heard of Trinidad Scorpion Butch T chilli.  At the time they were the world record hottest chilli with 1,463,700 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).  To put that in perspective, capsicum are 0 SHU, jalapeno chilli are under 10,000 SHU, tobasco chilli are under 50,000 SHU and a very hot habanero or a birds eye chilli are under 350,000 SHU.

At just shy of 1.5 million SHU the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T sounded like fun to grow with the kids!
Trinidad Scorpion Butch T
At the time the seeds were ridiculously expensive, I bought a few from a reputable seller.  There are so many dodgy thieves on ebay and the like and I was scared to pay so much and not get the real deal.  I didn't want to waste a year growing something else so spent more than I would have liked to be sure of getting the real thing.

They were not particularly difficult to germinate but, like any other chilli, they grew very slowly.  The plants were nothing spectacular to look at but had no issues with pests or diseases.  I grew them in a pot that was far too small and it was late in the season so I did not repot them or plant them in the soil as I was hoping to overwinter the plants.

That first year, even being planted late in the season, the plants flowered and produced one pod.  There were a few more but the cold weather made them abort.  That single lonely fruit was ripening slowly due to cool weather, I was very excited to try it, then one day it was gone!  I found parts of it ripped up and put in pots of other plants.  As far as we can gather one of the kids took this chilli, bit it, decided that it was not good to eat so tore it up, and then hid the evidence.

I wanted to eat it but didn't want to risk it as I didn't know where it had been or what had happened to it.  I tried dabbing a bit on my tongue and it was massively hot, hotter than anything I had ever eaten.  Considering that I only dabbed it on my tongue and did not actually eat any, that was a bit amazing.  I rubbed a little on my arm and felt the heat through my skin.

I was a bit disappointed that I did not get to eat any that year.  I have heard that they taste great, to quote the internet, Trinidad scorpion Butch t chilli tastes "refreshingly unique and stands out whereas most super hot chilli’s lack considerable flavor".  They sound delightful.  As I missed out on trying them I really wanted to overwinter and give them a try the following year.
Trinidad Scorpion Butch T after being overwintered

Overwintering Trinidad Scorpion Butch T chilli plants

That winter I over wintered my plants and had plans of repotting them in warmer weather.  Chilli are perennial vegetables and often produce poorly in their first year and a lot more in subsequent years.  Even highly productive varieties tend to produce even better in their second year.  People keep telling me that it is not possible to over winter chilli plants in frosty areas, fortunately they are wrong and it is simple to do.

If protected from frost chilli plants generally over winter well.  In my limited experience they do not suffer from chill injury, only freezing injury, so if you can keep the frost off they should be ok.  They will lose their leaves and look dreadful, but they generally survive if you keep the temperatures above freezing.  I have heard that they don't always survive no matter what you do, but the percentage is pretty high as I am yet to lose any.

My Trinidad Scorpion Butch T chilli plants overwintered nicely and grew like crazy in spring.  They flowered while my seed grown chilli were only an inch tall.  Much like overwintered tomato plants, overwintering chillli plants gets a crop a lot sooner than seed grown plants.

Due to health issues we sold our property and moved to town bringing the Trinidad scorpion butch t plants in their little pot.  As luck would have it I was offered a job somewhere else and had to move again, leaving my poor chilli plants overcrowded in that original pot but bringing them with us.

The plants flowered well, but in the move etc lost most of the fruit.  I ended up with about 3 good looking pods all ripening at different times.  The first one may not have been fully ripe when I picked it.
Trinidad Scorpion Butch T mid winter

What do I think Trinidad Scorpion Butch T taste like?

The Trinidad scorpion Butch T pods smell amazing!  Extremely fruity, if they had no heat they would do well in a salad.  I have heard of Trinidad Perfume which is meant to be similar with low heat.  Perhaps one year I should grow one of them.

I have heard that Trinidad scorpion Butch T chilli are agonisingly hot, I have heard that they are so hot that at first you fear you will die, then you fear that you won't.

A warning here: if you ever cut up and eat a Trinidad scorpion Butch t chilli make sure you are careful to wash your hands afterwards.  You don't want to rub your eye or go to the toilet with any residual capsaicin on your hands.

I am a bit of a chilli wuss, I am not terribly resistant to their heat, so their effect on me may not be normal.

At first the sweet and delicious taste hit me, it tasted a lot like it smelled, truly amazing.  It tasted, in those brief seconds prior to the heat coming through, like nothing I have ever tasted before.  If they had no heat I would gladly snack on these amazing delicious beauties.  Then the heat hit.

I have never eaten anything so hot in my life.  It hurt more than I have ever been hurt and burned more than I have ever been burned.  It was extreme, it was paradigm shifting, it was an emotional life experience that is difficult to describe.  It was so incredibly hot that at one stage I think I may have been able to see through time.

The heat stuck around for what felt like a long time, then it gradually eased.  After that I wanted more so I ate a little more and the process started again.  It was a nasty cycle that was difficult to stop.

They are so hot that I can't imagine really using them in food.  I have added tiny parts to food to add heat, which it did very well, but being so dilute much of the smell and taste was lost.  Why would anyone have ever thought it wise to breed such an extremely hot chilli?  Probably for the same reason that I plan to grow them again and eat them again.  I wish I could buy these stupid things, now I have tried one I want more!

I overwintered the plants again.  They have survived a few nights with temperatures of -5 but protected from the worst of the frost so have survived.  They have since been planted into the garden and have small flower buds on them.  I dare say that this will be their final year as I may not remember to dig them up in Autumn before they are killed by frost.  If I remember I will try to overwinter them again.
Trinidad Scorpion Butch T

Other people's reactions to Trinidad scorpion Butch T chilli

I decided to ask some people if they wanted to try Trinidad scorpion Butch t chilli explaining that recently they were (but no longer are) the world record holder for heat.  I had a few takers and they all had similar and interesting reactions.

One young bloke was a self professed chilli head so I asked if he wanted to try some.  No chilli is too hot for him, he will eat any chilli and has never broken a sweat, he is so brave etc etc etc.  Perfect!  He had been warned, everything was disclosed, and he decided to try this anyway.

At first he smelled the chilli and commented on how fruity and delightfully floral it was.  They really do smell amazing.

He then cut off the tiniest piece imaginable, smaller than a match head, and tried it.  I tried a larger piece and I am a chilli wuss.  At first he commented on how this could not be the world record holder and that he had tried far hotter.  He was part way through another smug sentence when the heat hit him...  He was silent...  The heat hit him so hard, at the most perfect time, just when he was at the start of an arrogant rant.  He then left the room.

After he returned to the room, with sweat on his forehead and read teary eyes, he asked how long the heat would last.  I couldn't help but say I was surprised he felt any heat after eating such a tiny piece (sorry for being a jerk, I couldn't help myself).  I suggested he drink milk to take away the burn and he said he was drinking it.  Extremely funny!  Just like myself, the heat eventually subsided.  Unlike myself he refused to eat any more.

I offered some to a friend who was another self professed chilli head.  He had much the same reaction.  At first he loved the taste and the smell, then the heat hit.  Again the heat eventually went away, he was also not willing to try any more.

Where to get Trinidad scorpion Butch T chilli seeds

They seem to be reasonably common and available at most chilli seller websites, they tend to be very expensive and sell ridiculously small numbers of seed, but you will get what you paid for.  I would keep clear of ebay as they could sell you any chilli seed and you would not know until it is too late to do anything about it.  There are probably a few other places to buy them too.

I may save seeds this summer and sell them through my for sale page, but I did not isolate plants last summer so can not sell seeds yet as I am not sure if they have crossed or not.  If you are into pointlessly hot chilli, then this one is for you.

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