The chilli on the left is from Africa, the one on the right from Mexico, over there from England, that one: Trinidad. The relatively rare Devil’s Tongue on the other hand, is much more interesting. In keeping with its eerie name, it just ‘appeared’. Its point of origin is not certain, nor is its route.
The Devil’s Tongue pepper is so called because of its shape and searing heat: long and curved to a pointed tip, and hot as hell. As with several prized chillies, growers vying for credit or researchers fishing for elusive accuracy, the Devil’s Tongue has more than one claimed history. It may have drifted over from the Caribbean in the loving arms of ardent fans. But generally accepted horticultural lore – which is all we have to go on – is that the Devil’s Tongue chilli was discovered in Pennsylvania, US of A, growing amongst Habaneros on the land of an Amish farmer in the 1990’s.
Hazy origins or not, the Devil’s Tongue is a clearly a breed of Habanero (some call it the Devil’s Tongue Habanero). It has its family’s wicked heat level and world-famous fruity citrus taste, with the added delicacy of a delicious lightly nutty tang. So we must presume that our Amish friend skilfully developed the Devil’s Tongue strain from his other Habaneros: perhaps Fataliis. Nerds with a penchant for the fiery have extrapolated that the Devil’s tongue pepper is a descendant of the milder Fatalii Habanero, similar in size and shape.
The mysterious Devil’s Tongue pods in that Pennsylvania bush were golden yellow. Since then, the chilli gurus have worked their usual magic and created an even hotter variety: the Devil’s Tongue Red. This bad boy has a different flavour – more sweet and fruity – and has enough satisfying kick to give an ogre hiccups. We grow both red and yellow.
Respected master-grower Jim Duffy puts the Devil’s Tongue at above 500,000 Scoville Units in 2010 heat tests. All sorts of chilli information sources rate the Devil’s Tongue’s exhilarating feistiness: 325,000 Scoville Heat Units; “extremely hot” (above 300,000 Scoville Units); between 250,000-500,000 Scovilles, but Jim Duffy was involved in the first cultivation and testing of the world‘s hottest chilli, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper (which we also stock, you lucky fire-heads) with Mexico State University’s mighty Chili Pepper Institute – so I say he knows what he’s talking about.
This puts the scorching Devil’s Tongue pepper at around 7th place in the current jostling for the World’s Hottest Chilli title. Not for beginners! As Chileseeds puts it, “Hot, hot, hot. Fantastic flavour and great heat level”. If you can ride the heat, the accompanying adored flavour means Devil’s Tongue peppers are great eaten fresh in salsas and salads, or cooked into a hearty chilli or stew. They’re good for drying and pickling too.
And they’re even amazingly good for you! Devil’s Tongue peppers and other chillies stimulate the metabolism. They fight cancer. They help diabetics. They are vitamin-rich and contain immune-boosting antioxidants. They reduce cholesterol… click on the “Benefits of Peppers” header of our website for the comprehensive rundown of the amazing and reassuring things they can do for us mere mortals.