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What is a Red Savina&Trade;?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2016
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The Red Savina™ is a chili pepper cultivar which is extraordinarily hot, clocking in at around 580,000 Scoville units when it is grown under optimal conditions. For fans of hot chilis, the Red Savina™ is an extremely popular pepper, due to its intensely fiery nature; from 1994 to 2006, the Red Savina™ was the ruling hottest pepper of the world, although it has since been supplanted by the Naga Jolokia, an Indian pepper cultivar which is almost twice at hot. Just for reference, the Habanero chili, a well known hot chili cultivar, is around 200-300,000 Scoville units.

Credit for the development of the Red Savina™ is usually given to Frank Garcia, who protected his unique cultivar with a designation under the Plant Variety Protection Act in the United States when he perfected this varietal. The breeding method used by Garcia is not known, but it is assumed that he crossed increasingly hotter cultivars of peppers with each other to achieve to monumental heat of the Red Savina™. It is possible to purchase Red Savina™ seeds and starters for people who want to cultivate this pepper at home.

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This pepper is also known as a Dominican Devil's Tongue, presumably in reference to the sometimes eye-watering heat. More formally, the Red Savina™ is known as Capsicum chinense cultivar Red Savina, placing it in the same species with Habeneros, Scotch Bonnets, and several other very hot pepper varietals. The pepper can be used both fresh and dried, just like its relatives, and it needs to be handled carefully. The alkaloid compounds in the pepper which cause it to be so very hot can hurt the skin and delicate mucus membranes when cooks do not treat it with respect.

Ideally, you should wear gloves when handling Red Savina™ peppers, to minimize skin exposure. To make the peppers less spicy, cut them in half and remove the fleshy white membrane and seeds, where the bulk of the heat is stored. The body of the pepper will still be formidably hot, however, especially for people who are not familiar with peppers, so you may want to taste food after adding the peppers to gauge the heat before offering it to a crowd.

After handling the peppers, wash your hands well, and avoid touching your eyes and other sensitive areas of your body. If you do get alkaloids from the pepper on your skin, you can use baking soda as a buffer to ease the pain, or you can sprinkle lemon juice or vinegar on the affected area. These tools also work when you have ingested a pepper which is too hot, although you may experience lingering discomfort.

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