The Ghost Pepper, also known as Bhut Jolokia, is the first pepper to start the 1 million SHUs club and it never looked back. It’s one of the spiciest peppers in the world that the Indian Army uses to make “chili grenades.” Yep, you heard it right - they’re practically weaponized peppers!
The Ghost Pepper is loved by the hot pepper community for its intense fruity, sweet flavors and a pure tongue-burning heat that just makes you sweat from your eyebrows. This superhot pepper is so hot that it held the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s hottest pepper from 2007 until 2010 before the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T took the throne. Continue reading to learn all about the Ghost Pepper where we’ll give you every detail such as its origin, the heat, how to grow it, and even some recipes that you can instantly cook in your kitchen!
Ghost Pepper’s History
The Ghost Pepper has quite the interesting history. The name comes from its Assamese name, the Bhut Jolokia. Bhut in Assamese means “ghost” while Jolokia translate to “pepper.” It was cultivated in Northeast India, becoming a hybrid pepper that’s closely related to the Naga Morich. Today, there are many names for the superhot pepper such as ghost chili, Red Naga chili, Naga Bhut Jolokia, Bhoot Jolokia, and more. We all can agree that in English, Ghost Pepper fits perfectly since it frightens your taste buds.
Apart from it being an ingredient for cooking, it’s known for being a homeopathic remedy for stomach pain. This may be hard to believe, considering the Ghost Pepper can cause you pain from its heat! The Ghost can be a way to beat the summer heat because you will sweat a bit after consumption, which will decrease your body temperature. It’s also used as a weapon where Indians smear their fences with the Ghost peppers to keep elephants away, and has been used as smoke bombs.
Ghost Pepper’s Heat and Flavors
It became the world’s hottest pepper in 2007, replacing the Red Savina Habanero which held the title of being the hottest pepper in the world from 1994-2006. The Bhut Jolokia comes in between 855,000 – 1,041,427 Scoville Heat Units (SHUs), making this 416 times hotter than the Jalapeno pepper. We’ll bluntly say that this pepper is definitely not Casper the Friendly Ghost.
To put in perspective on how hot the Ghost is, this pepper’s throat-burning heat has a gradual build that’ll make you think you’re fine…for about 30 to 45 seconds. Once the heat hits you, you’re gasping for air, overcome with sweat, getting watery eyes, and hiccuping. The burning intensifies for ten to fifteen minutes (unless you beat the heat with some ice cream or a glass of milk), before it actually subsidies in about 30 minutes. We have proof from our own teammates eating a Ghost Pepper while giving pepper facts.
There are beautiful flavors beyond the extreme spiciness, believe it or not! You get to experience sweet, fruity flavors with a hint of smokiness – flavors hot pepper lovers enjoy for cooking different cuisines and making hot sauces.
How to Grow the Ghost Pepper
As you learned from our recent blog on the Carolina Reaper’s Spotlight, we love hot peppers and helping you grow from seed to harvest. We have Ghost Pepper seeds for sale, and we’re here to help you learn how to grow this superhot pepper.
How to Plant Ghost Pepper Seeds
The number one rule you must remember is that Ghost peppers tend to like more humidity and heat than other peppers. They are native to India which is known for its warm climate climate.
Get your germination tray in front of you, and make sure to have soil, water, and Ghost pepper seeds to start the process. Pour water in the bottom of your base tray (about six cups of water), and then place your seedling cell insert over top. Check if you have ¼ of an inch of standing water in the tray. Fill the seed starting tray with potting soil and fill all the way to the top. Make a ¼-inch hole in each seed starting cell (you can use a #2 pencil eraser to create your holes). Finally, place seeds in each hole and cover them with soil and apply the heat source to the bottom of the tray and cover the top with a humidity trapping dome.
How to Germinate Ghost Pepper Seeds
After planting your seeds, it’s important that you keep your soil moist but not too wet. The dome can help keep moisture in. You’ll also want to keep your seeds and soil warm, which is why we recommend using a heat mat to do the job. Keep your soil temperature around 80- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit, and the same goes for all hot peppers, to maintain great germination rates. You can use a digital thermometer controller to check the temperatures.
Superhot peppers can take a while to germinate, just be patient and attentive as the seeds can sprout in as little as seven days to up to six weeks. Remember, there’s nothing like giving your peppers some TLC because in the end, you’ll reap all the benefits!
How Long it Takes Ghost Peppers to Grow
When you see those little seeds sprout to established seedlings, it’s time to transition them into pots and the outdoors. You can start to put these peppers into pots once the seedlings are a few inches tall.
As we explained in our blog on how to harden off and transplant pepper plants, it’s critical that you transition them properly into the outdoors. You must keep your peppers indoors if the temperatures are cold because pepper plants do not like temperatures below 60 degrees. Remember, Ghost peppers prefer warm climates!
Once it’s warmer, you can take your plants outside and start the hardening process for a couple of weeks before planting seedlings out to the garden. We recommend that you leave them outdoors for the first couple of days for about 1-3 hours on an overcast day or an area out of direct sunlight. After those 1-3 hours, bring the plants back inside under your grow lights.
Continue the process for the next few weeks, gradually increasing the number of hours in the sun until they can be outside for 24 hours. You can plant your peppers outside in soil or in containers in an area full of sun, and space them between 18-24 inches apart. Remember to give them the water and warmth they need to thrive!
Ghost pepper seeds could take 100-120 days to harvest, and they will turn from green to red when they are ripe. For more details on growing hot pepper seeds and plants, check out our Grow with Joe video series.
Ghost Pepper Characteristics
The pepper plants can grow to two to four feet tall, and when you see flowers, you’re one step closer to seeing the pods! The pods grow to about two to three inches in length, forming into wrinkly, bumpy skins with a slight tapered point. The colors will change beautifully too, ripening from green, orange, to finally their striking red color.
Don’t want to grow the Ghost all by yourself? We also sell Ghost Pepper plants during the spring so you can have a jumpstart at growing the plants.
Other Ghost Seed Varieties:
The Ghost Pepper is truly the original superhot pepper everyone should try growing in their lifetime, but there are different variations of the Ghost such as:
- Giant Ghost – Love the Ghost Pepper, but want an even bigger, meatier Ghost? Grow the Giant Ghost that grows six inches in length and beyond that comes in at a heat level of 800,000 SHUs.
- Yellow Ghost – A yellow variant that has a fruitier taste and better productivity rates than the Red Ghost, and it can give you a heat of 800,000 SHUs.
- Orange Ghost – Comes at a heat of 900,000 – 1,000,000 SHUs with a great citrusy, Naga flavor and is the most prolific out of all the Ghost varieties.
- Bhut Jolokia Purple – A rare purple variant of the Red Ghost that is hard to get your hands on! The heat averages at 800,000-1,000,000 SHUs with an intense sweet flavor.
- Chocolate Ghost – This is a cross between the Red Ghost and Douglah, and has a heat of 800,000 – 1,000,304 SHUs. The Chocolate Ghost’s flavors are unforgettable with their sweeter chocolatey undertones and hints of smokiness.
- Ghor-Pion – A crossbreeding masterpiece that’s crossed between the Red Ghost Pepper and Butch T Trinidad Scorpion. This pepper has plenty of heat, coming in at around 850,000 – 1,000,000 SHUs and retained all of the best characteristics: flavor, heat, and robust growth rates.
- Jay’s Peach Ghost Scorpion – Created by Jay Weaver in Pennsylvania, this is a cross between a Red Ghost and Trinidad Scorpion with a peach-colored exterior. The pepper has a fruity yet floral flavor, and the heat is described as one with an immediate burn that slowly climbs from the back of your throat.
- Ghost Peach – A variant of the Red Ghost, but peach in color! The Peach Ghost has a similar heat level to the Red Ghost, and can grow up to 6 inches in length.
- Bhut Orange Copenhagen – Originated from Copenhagen, Denmark, the pepper is fruitier and not so bitter as the Red Ghost, and has an amazing citrusy smell. It’s less hot than the Red Ghost, coming in at a heat of 600,000 – 900,000 SHUs.
- Chocolate Bhutlah – Don’t let the name fool you, this is nothing close to being a dessert dream! The pepper is rumored to be hotter than the Carolina Reaper with pods having a heat of 2,000,000 SHUs. You’ll taste a floral sweetness paired with subtle earthiness.
Cooking with the Ghost Pepper
Now that you've learned everything about growing the Ghost, it’s time to get you on board with cooking with this pepper!
There are many ways to utilize the Ghost with, such as pizza, salsa, chicken wings, burgers, and chicken sandwiches. In fact, you may have seen restaurants and fast food chains use Ghost peppers and other superhot peppers to make spicy chicken, cocktails, and wings! They’re also popular for making hot sauces, as some of the most popular hot sauces feature the pepper as the main ingredient. We have a delicious Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce for you to add extreme heat to anything your heart desires.
Check out some of the recipes below using some of our Ghost products.
Pepper Joe’s Ghost Recipes:
- Not Your Routine Poutine – We took Quebec’s famous French fry dish to a whole new level. Topped with our Ghost Cheese Curds and a sinful gravy filled with flavorful Ghost Flakes and Ghost Infused Sea Salt, this pile of spicy deliciousness is bound to be a hit on either side of the border.
- Stuffed Ghost Pepper Cheeseburgers – You’re using spicy, seasoned ground beef to create irresistibly juicy burger patties, then stuffing them with our famous Ghost Pepper Cheese Curds. Garnished with sautéed onions and jalapenos, Ghost Pepper Ketchup, and Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce, these ghostly burgers will fill your belly and haunt your dreams.
- Double Chocolate & Almond Ghost Cookies – Turning everyone’s favorite cookie into a desirable spicy cookie that’s full of gooey chocolate. Chocolate pairs wonderfully with a little heat and these rich cookies won’t disappoint!
Ghost Sauces, Snacks, and More!
Don’t want to cook? We got you covered with some high-quality Ghost Pepper consumable products.
Coming soon, you’ll find Ghost Pepper Flakes, Ghost Pepper Powder, Ghost Pepper Dried Pods, and Ghost Pepper Mash Puree.