Alert the fire brigade and have a fridge full of yoghurt ready – the hottest British-bred chilli pepper to ever hit supermarket shelves is set to be unleashed at Tesco across the UK.
It’s called Armageddon and it’s so hot that it just about stands head to head with the notorious American-bred Carolina Reaper.
Since first going on sale at Tesco three years ago, the Carolina Reaper – which is officially the world’s hottest chilli according to the Guinness Book of Records – has become the stuff of legend because of its truly incredible heat.
But now the ‘Reaper’ has a rival that was not only bred in Britain but is commercially-grown in Bedfordshire.
And that should please the growing army of super-hot chilli pepper lovers in the UK with demand at Tesco for the top of the heat scale variety rocketing by 70 per cent in the last four years.
“The arrival of the incredibly potent Armageddon will join other legendary varieties such as the ‘Trinidad Scorpion’, ‘Bhut Jolokia’, ‘Komodo Dragon’ and of course the ‘Carolina Reaper’ among the super-hot chillis we’ve sold in recent years,” said Tesco chilli buyer Nick Foulds.
“We chose it because of its wonderful fruity taste which added to its awesome strength will create an unforgettable dish.
“But remember to be very economical with it – you only need a few tiny slivers.”
To put the searing heat of the Armageddon into context it measures an incredible 1.3 million Scoville Units, just below the 1.5 million Scovilles recorded for the Carolina Reaper.
The Armageddon is being grown by the UK’s largest producer of chilli peppers, Salvatore Genovese whose seven acre farm is based in Blunham, Bedfordshire.
Salv, as he is known, started growing chilli peppers just under 20 years ago after he took over his parents’ cucumber business.
He branched out into chilli pepper production against his father’s advice but quickly found he had a fast-growing market with Tesco becoming one of his first customers.
Since then chilli peppers have become so popular that Salv now grows up to one million, or 15 tonnes, each week through his company Genovese Chillis, to satisfy the growing UK demand.
“In the last year as a result of the soaring demand for really hot chilli peppers we’ve invested in new machinery that has helped us extend the British growing season by three months – from June until Christmas,” said Salv.
“We’ve also extended the farm by a further 2.5 acres and now have 130,000 plants including the Cherry Bomb, Naga, and several others.”
The ‘Armageddon’ costs £1 for a 15g packet.