Ghost Peppers - Everything About The Bhut Jolokia - Pepper Geek (2023)

The ghost pepper is one of the most notoriously spicy peppers on the planet. It is a result of ancient plant breeding, and is a cross between capsicum chinense and capsicum fructescens.

Scoville Heat Units: 1,000,000 SHUs
Diameter: 0.75–1.25 inches
Length: 2–3 inches
Color: Green to orange to red
Buy Seeds: Seeds Now
Buy Live Plants: Etsy
Buy ghost peppers >

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In This Article:

  • What is a ghost pepper
  • Ghost pepper plants
  • Ghost pepper scoville scale
  • Ghost pepper varieties
  • Growing ghost peppers
  • When to pick ghost peppers
  • Where to buy fresh ghost peppers
  • Ghost pepper uses
  • Ghost pepper burn cure

What Is A Ghost Pepper

The ghost pepper, or bhut jolokia, is a pepper variety discovered in India. It is thought to be a capsicum chinense variety that was at some point likely crossed with a capsicum frutescens variety. It is now well known for its intense heat and unique, wrinkly shape.

Where Is The Ghost Pepper From?

All capsicum chinense varieties originated in South America and across the West Indies. One of the oldest peppers was found over 6,000 years ago, fully preserved in a cave in Peru.

The ghost pepper is thought to have origins in Trinidad where many of the world’s hottest peppers are found. Eventually, it made its way to Assam and Nagaland, India by way of travel or by local plant breeding.

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In India, the ghost pepper was cultivated by local hands and still grows naturally in Northeastern India. Though the exact origins are unknown, this is the most likely course of events for the ghost pepper.

Fun fact: Naga means ‘Serpent’ in Sanskrit. Many ghost pepper varieties are named after Nagaland, India, where the peppers grow naturally.

We are happy that the pepper was discovered and seeds are now widely available across the globe for home growers!

Ghost Pepper Plants

Like most pepper varieties, ghost pepper plants are fairly easy to grow and the pods are highly resistant to pests. We recommend buying seeds online and growing them yourself. However, there are ways to buy live plants as well.

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Ghost Pepper Plant Features

All ghost pepper plant varieties have large, broad leaves and a full canopy. Flowers are small to medium in size, and are white. Ghost pepper plants are also highly productive under ideal growing conditions.

Pruning is optional for ghost pepper plants, though we recommend at least bottom pruning to protect against soil borne pathogens. All ghost varieties are slow to mature, so we recommend starting seeds very early indoors.

Ghost pepper plants plants typically take 100+ days after transplanting to produce ripened pepper pods!

Given enough soil, light and fertilizer, ghost peppers will grow to about 2-3 feet tall in a single season.

Where To Buy Ghost Pepper Plants

If you want to grow ghost peppers at home, you can either start from seed, or you can simply buy live plants online. Ghost pepper plants are not a huge demand, so you likely won’t find them at Home Depot or Lowe’s.

(Video) Harvesting a Huge Ghost Pepper Plant - How Many Peppers? Pepper Geek

Get Live Ghost Pepper Plants Here.

Try calling your local nurseries to see if they sell ghost pepper plant starts. Many gardening centers cater to the local demand, so if you call asking, they might grow them next year!

Ghost Pepper Scoville Scale

A common question regarding the ghost chili is how spicy it is. Where does the ghost pepper stack up on the Scoville Scale?

When compared to a common hot pepper, say a jalapeno, it isn’t even close.

1 ghost pepper is equivalent in spiciness to about 125 jalapeno peppers.

Put simply, the ghost pepper comes in at approximately 1,000,000 SHUs on the Scoville Scale. This was enough to hold the Guinness World Record for the world’s hottest chili pepper for about 4 years from 2007 to 2011.

Since it has been dethroned, the ghost pepper seems tame compared to the newcomers. However, don’t be fooled. The ghost pepper is still an extremely spicy pepper variety, and will give almost anyone a run for their money!

Different Ghost Pepper Colors

One of the great things about modern plant breeding is the resulting variety. There are ghost peppers of all different colors and sizes. Bhut Jolokia peppers are always super spicy. However, darker colored pods are usually hotter, while lighter colors are less spicy.

Peach Ghost Pepper

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Behind the peachy exterior of this bhut jolokia variety is a serious punch. Similarly spicy to the original pepper, the peach ghost pepper is no joke.

We love growing this variety as the ripe pods add a beautiful color to our pepper garden.

Buy seeds here.

Yellow Naga Ghost Pepper

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Another brightly colored ghost pepper variety, the yellow naga pepper is a beaut. We had great luck with these plants, with peppers ripening as early as mid-July!

Add a splash of yellow to your garden with these ghost peppers. You’ll have no trouble knowing when to pick these.

Buy seeds here.

(Video) When & How to Harvest & Eat a Ghost Pepper - Safely

Chocolate Ghost Pepper

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This ghost pepper has a much more sinister look, and a truly scorching heat level. The chocolate, or brown bhut jolokia pepper is a monster!

Note: This is the spiciest ghost pepper color variety we have tried to date!

Once again, we had relatively early ripening from these plants. A great, bizarre look in the garden, and perfect for making extra-spicy foods.

Find seeds here.

Growing Ghost Peppers

Growing ghost peppers is similar to growing other varieties. We have written full grow guides for other varieties for anyone looking to grow peppers. Surprisingly, ghost peppers are one of the easiest hot peppers to grow.

Follow our detailed guide to growing ghost peppers here!

However, there are a few things to know specifically about growing ghost peppers.

Some things to keep in mind about ghost peppers:

  • Seeds take longer to germinate. Ghost pepper seeds (and other super hot varieties) are know for being very stubborn to germinate. They can take weeks, sometimes up to one month to sprout.
    • We highly recommend bottom heating with a seed mat.
  • Growing season is longer. Some early pepper varieties can take as little as 75 days to have mature pods. Ghost peppers will need at least 100 days from the day of transplanting to produce ripe peppers.
  • Beware of handling the pods. While the outer skin of a ghost pepper does not contain capsaicin, a small crack can let out a ton of it. We recommend using latex gloves whenever you plan to handle the fresh peppers (especially when slicing them).

When To Pick Ghost Peppers

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Knowing when to pick your ghost peppers is usually very easy. As is the case with all pepper varieties, they will change color when fully ripened. Unlike jalapenos or banana peppers, ghost peppers are almost always picked when fully ripe.

Put simply, pick ghost peppers when they change in color from green to bright red (or whatever color variety you are growing). The change in color is obvious and will usually take just a few days once the peppers begin to turn.

Signs of ripe ghost peppers:

(Video) Grow ghost peppers | Start Bhut Jolokia ghost peppers from seed | Hot peppers | NordicLavender.com

  • Change in color
  • Mature size
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How to pick ghost peppers

Our method for harvesting peppers is a simple one. Remove the peppers with your hands, careful not to damage the plant. We find that an upwards motion works well to get a clean ‘pop’ as the pepper is removed.

Another option for harvesting ghost peppers is to use sharp scissors or pruning shears. Simply cut the pepper’s stem about halfway up, being careful not to nick the plant’s branches or leaves.

Where To Buy Ghost Peppers

Not looking to grow ghost peppers yourself, but still want some? You’ve still got options. Here are some places where you can buy ghost peppers (both online and in person).

Thanks to the huge boom in popularity of spicy food, the ghost pepper is famous. That means you may start seeing fresh bhut jolokia peppers for sale in stores.

We have personally seen them for sale (when in season) at Whole Foods Market. You can also buy fresh ghost peppers online from individual growers.

Ghost Pepper Uses

Ready to start using some ghost peppers from the garden? These versatile spicy peppers can be used in a number of ways. You can preserve them for later use, use them fresh, dehydrate them for spicy pepper powder, and even save the seeds to grow again next year.

Warning: Always take precautions when slicing or cooking with ghost peppers. Wear gloves, eye protection, and respiratory protection. You’ll thank us later!

Make Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce

We sure do love making homemade hot sauce. You get a ton of sauce for your hard work, and it is a wonderful preservation method.

Using a simple preparation of peppers, vinegar, salt and any other fruits and spices, you can blend up your very own sauce. Just be sure to use at least 2% salt, and around 50% vinegar.

Oh, and go easy on the ghost peppers (try using some jalapenos to decrease the heat level).

Tip: We love using fresh fruits, especially pineapple or blueberries, in our sauces. Get creative!

Make Ghost Pepper Salsa

Making a super-spicy ghost pepper salsa is a great way to use a few ghost peppers. Similar to hot sauce, this vinegar, tomato and onion based dip is a classic. Usually made with jalapenos, salsa is begging to be made spicier.

Put Them In Some Chili

You’ll want to be careful not to overdo this, but you can try making some ghost pepper chili. Throw a half of a pepper, finely chopped, into your next batch of chili to kick things up.

Dehydrate Ghost Peppers

We love dehydrating foods, especially peppers. This is a great option if you want to save your peppers for later, or create a spicy pepper powder.

Slice your bhut jolokia peppers in half lengthwise before dehydrating. These peppers are thin, so they should dehydrate in around 8-10 hours at 125°F (in a proper food dehydrator).

Read our guide to dehydrating peppers here.

Saving Ghost Pepper Seeds

Saving pepper seeds is always worth the extra effort. Seeds will stay viable for years if stored properly, meaning you can re-grow your favorites in the future.

(Video) Growing Ghost Peppers | Bhut Jolokia | Growing Extremely Hottest Pepper in the World

We wrote a detailed guide on saving pepper seeds here.

How to save ghost pepper seeds:

  • Use fully ripe ghost peppers
  • Slice off the very end (not the stem end)
  • Roll the pepper between your fingers, seeds should drop out of the opening
  • Slice pepper lengthwise
  • Remove remaining seeds with a spoon
  • Dry seeds on a plate for several days
  • Store in an airtight container

Ghost Pepper Relief and Cure

If you are new to spicy food, and happen to try a ghost pepper, you’ll likely need some relief from the pain.

The quickest relief: Milk.

If you have any dairy milk in the fridge, go for that first. It offers the quickest and best relief from any type of chili pepper burn.

If you got some of the ghost pepper oils on your hands, milk is still the best help. However, we also recommend washing your hands thoroughly (even under the nails) with dish soap. The detergent in the soap helps emulsify and remove the pepper juices.

Read More: Cures for hot pepper hands/eyes

Can A Ghost Pepper Kill You?

No. Well…maybe.

While eating capsaicin is not toxic, it can cause rare adverse reactions in some people.

There have been cases of people vomiting aggressively after eating ghost peppers, leading to potential throat rupture. Though the pepper itself is not fatal when eaten, the reaction in some people may be.

Know what you are eating, first!

If you have never tried a highly spicy pepper, we don’t recommend eating ghost peppers. Work your way up from less spicy varieties like jalapenos and serranos.

I hope this article helped you learn a few new things about ghost peppers. They are an awesome pepper to respect and use in moderation. Happy growing!

Ghost Peppers - Everything About The Bhut Jolokia - Pepper Geek (10)

Calvin

One of the original Pepper Geeks! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning more about peppers and botany, he might be traveling new places or playing some music.

(Video) Ghost Pepper 🌶

FAQs

Is bhut jolokia good for health? ›

Despite its hotness, this pepper has many health benefits. There are many health benefits of eating Bhut Jolokia. Consuming Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Pepper) on a regular basis has prevented cancer, heart-related disease, skin related diseases, lowers blood sugar and even produces antioxidants.

What does a ghost pepper do to your body? ›

Ghost peppers are considered the hottest chili peppers in the world with a measured 'heat” of >1,000,000 Scoville heat units. After ingesting this meal, forceful retching and vomiting followed at which point the patient started to feel severe chest pain and abdominal pain.

Is ghost pepper the same as bhut jolokia? ›

The ghost pepper belongs to the Capsicum Chinese family like Habanero, Scotch Bonnet, and Red Savina. The ghost pepper is also known as the Bhut Jolokia. Bhut means ghost and jolokia means pepper.

Why can't you touch a ghost pepper? ›

The oils alone of the ghost pepper can cause extreme chili burn from one simple touch. It's so strong that just being near them can cause eye irritation. After handling – even with gloves – wash your hands thoroughly.

How many ghost peppers can you eat? ›

Can you die from eating a ghost pepper? Yes, you could die from ingesting ghost peppers, but you'd need to eat a lot of them at once. Researchers have determined a 150-pound (68-kilogram) person would need to eat 3 pounds (1.3 kilograms) of ghost peppers to die.

What vitamins are in ghost pepper? ›

They are low fat, low calorie, and contain a healthy amount of vitamin C. But the capsaicin they contain seems to be the greatest source of health benefits. Capsaicin also contains antioxidants called phytochemicals. They lower free radicals in the body, and that can prevent illnesses.

Can you eat raw ghost peppers? ›

(Plus, the whole ghost pepper food challenge is so last decade.) The fact is, ghost pepper, aka bhut jolokia, means deep hurting in any language. And yes, in case you're wondering, eating them can actually kill you.

Does ghost pepper help you lose weight? ›

Peppers are vegetables rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals but low in calories, making them a great addition to any weight-loss diet. The fiery burn of hot peppers, such as ghost peppers, provide an even better weight-loss boost, containing elements that rev up the metabolism and help you eat less and burn fat.

Are hot peppers good for your colon? ›

The chili pepper is a spicy food, and excess consumption may damage to colonic mucosa. The long-term damage is related to the occurrence of CRC. In addition, capsaicin may play the weak carcinogenesis role in causing CRC.

Where is Bhoot Jolokia found? ›

The ghost pepper, also known as bhut jolokia (which literally means 'Bhutan pepper' in Assamese), is an interspecific hybrid chili pepper cultivated in Northeast India. It is a hybrid of Capsicum chinense and Capsicum frutescens.

How long do ghost pepper plants live? ›

Ghost pepper plants will live 3–5 years in warm North American climates. Temperatures below freezing will kill ghost pepper plants. In tropical climates, ghost peppers can live up to 10 years. A healthy ghost pepper plant can produce as many as 200 peppers per-year.

What's the hottest pepper in the world 2022? ›

Yep, the Hottest Pepper in 2022 is still the Carolina Reaper! The wickedly hot Carolina Reaper is still holding the Guinness World Record crown again in 2022 for being the world's hottest pepper.

What does ghost pepper do to your stomach? ›

Leading to chest pain similar to that of heartburn, aka acid reflux. Still, it's important to know that though ghost peppers can feel like they're burning a hole through your tongue and digestive tract, they're not actually causing any damage. They're simply mimicking the effect of an injury.

What happens if you touch a ghost pepper with your bare hands? ›

If I touch a ghost pepper with bare hands will it burn my skin? A. Yes! We highly recommend that you use latex or nitrile gloves when handling the peppers or the seeds.

How do you get rid of burning mouth from ghost peppers? ›

Balancing it with an acid can help neutralize the molecule's activity. This means drinking or eating something acidic — such as lemonade, limeade, orange juice or a tomato-based food item or drink — may also help cool your mouth down. (Milk is also acidic, by the way.)

How long does it take a ghost pepper to turn red? ›

After ghost pepper fruits reach their full size, they will begin the ripening process. This stage will test your patience, as ghost peppers can take 4-6 weeks to change color and become fully ripe!

What is the spiciest pepper in the world? ›

The Carolina Reaper is officially the Worlds Hottest Pepper as ranked by Guinness Book of World Records. It's hot, and by hot, we mean HOT!

How do you know when a ghost pepper is ripe? ›

While you can harvest green, unripe ghost peppers, they at their hottest and most flavorful when fully ripe. Ghost pepper pods should be somewhat firm and have a vibrant red color. If they are soft, they are either overripe (which is completely fine to pick and eat) or are starting to rot on the plant before ripening.

How much sugar is in a ghost pepper? ›

Ghost pepper by M. A. Gedney Company nutrition facts and analysis per 1 tbsp (15.0 g)
Carbohydrates
NutrientAmount
Sugars4.00 g
Sugars, added3.00 g
Net carbs4 g
1 more row

Does eating ghost pepper burn calories? ›

Your metabolic rate will increase because the peppers kickstart a thermogenic process in your body. This process generates body heat, which leads to burning calories.

What does eating a ghost pepper feel like? ›

Taste and Heat

The Ghost Pepper has a latent intensity which is initially deceiving. When you first eat it, the pepper tastes sweet. About 10-15 seconds later, you feel a raging burn. The burning sensation spreads and continues to intensify making your mouth feel like it's on fire and then your eyes start watering.

Is eating King Chilli good for health? ›

With a staggering 10 lakhs SHU (Scoville Heat Unit), it is now one of the hottest chili peppers. Despite its hotness this pepper has many health benefits. There are many health benefits of eating Bhut Jolokia.
...
Nutritional Value of Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Pepper) per 100 gram.
Energy24.44 Kilojoule
Dietary Fibre4.83 grams
2 more rows
15 Jul 2021

Is ghost pepper good for weight loss? ›

Peppers are vegetables rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals but low in calories, making them a great addition to any weight-loss diet. The fiery burn of hot peppers, such as ghost peppers, provide an even better weight-loss boost, containing elements that rev up the metabolism and help you eat less and burn fat.

How do you use Bhoot Jolokia? ›

We found bhut jolokia is best when it's used to spike a chunky tomato salsa, or as a chile oil to drizzle on stews or made into a spice-filled mayonnaise. If you think you're a match for the smoldering power of the bhut jolokia, we urge you to try them in the recipes below and not swallowing them whole.

Why is capsaicin good for you? ›

Studies have found that capsaicin can increase your metabolism, which increases the rate at which you use energy and burn fat stores. It can also lower your appetite, which may help you eat less than you normally would.

Are hot peppers good for your colon? ›

The chili pepper is a spicy food, and excess consumption may damage to colonic mucosa. The long-term damage is related to the occurrence of CRC. In addition, capsaicin may play the weak carcinogenesis role in causing CRC.

Are hot peppers good for your liver? ›

Results revealed today at the International Liver Congress™ 2015 show that the daily consumption of capsaicin, the active compound of chilli peppers, was found to have beneficial effects on liver damage. In the study, capsaicin was found to reduce the activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) in mice models.

Does chilli burn belly fat? ›

Many studies have proven that adding chilli peppers, also spelled chili peppers, to your daily diet can help you lose weight and belly fat by boosting your metabolism.

Can you eat raw ghost peppers? ›

(Plus, the whole ghost pepper food challenge is so last decade.) The fact is, ghost pepper, aka bhut jolokia, means deep hurting in any language. And yes, in case you're wondering, eating them can actually kill you.

How do you prepare a ghost pepper to eat? ›

When & How to Harvest & Eat a Ghost Pepper - Safely - YouTube

What is world's hottest pepper? ›

The Carolina Reaper is officially the Worlds Hottest Pepper as ranked by Guinness Book of World Records. It's hot, and by hot, we mean HOT! The Carolina Reaper can top-out at 2.2 Million SHU!

Where is Bhoot Jolokia found? ›

The ghost pepper, also known as bhut jolokia (which literally means 'Bhutan pepper' in Assamese), is an interspecific hybrid chili pepper cultivated in Northeast India. It is a hybrid of Capsicum chinense and Capsicum frutescens.

How long do ghost peppers last? ›

Like other hot varieties, ghosts will last five to seven days in the refrigerator, after which time they can start to get mushy and possibly discolored. I like to freeze my peppers. To do this, I simply place them in a plastic container or baggie and store them in the freezer – they'll last for six months to a year.

What is the hottest pepper in the world 2022? ›

The hottest pepper in 2022 is, you guessed it, the Carolina Reaper! Yep, the Hottest Pepper in 2022 is still the Carolina Reaper! The wickedly hot Carolina Reaper is still holding the Guinness World Record crown again in 2022 for being the world's hottest pepper.

Is capsaicin a blood thinner? ›

Blood-thinning medications and herbs: Capsaicin may increase the risk of bleeding associated with certain blood-thinning medications such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), and herbs such as ginkgo, ginger, ginseng, and garlic.

Which hot pepper is the healthiest? ›

Red peppers pack the most nutrition, because they've been on the vine longest. Green peppers are harvested earlier, before they have a chance to turn yellow, orange, and then red. Compared to green bell peppers, the red ones have almost 11 times more beta-carotene and 1.5 times more vitamin C.

Does capsaicin enter bloodstream? ›

The reason for this is that the drug has to travel through several cell membranes and organ capillaries before it reaches the systemic circulation. In contrast, oral gavage, intragastric routes and intravenous injections leads to direct entry of capsaicin into the systemic bloodstream.

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