In the world of spice, the pepper unquestionably has the title of king.
A bunch of heavy-hitting peppers confidently reign supreme; still, none are more iconic than the Carolina Reaper and ghost pepper, whose comparison is like the boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, at least in terms of pure power and popularity.
The ghost pepper is the rockstar, while Carolina Reaper is the blazing up-and-comer that has stunned everyone.
Undoubtedly, both are mega-hot chilies; they differ in origin, appearance, availability, cultivation, heat level, and more.
Carolina Reaper – Overview
Ed Currie, the discoverer of the Carolina Reaper, the hottest pepper in the world, is what you would call a “chili head” who knows that hot enough is never hot enough. (1) When Ed began cultivating peppers in South Carolina in the 1980s, he marked the beginning of his spice adventure.
By the 1990s, more than 800 plants colonized every space in his house and that of his friends, relatives, and neighbors. As a result of the increasing demand for his peppers, Ed and his wife Linda concluded that it was time to establish a legitimate farm in the early 2000s.
Their farm is still one of the biggest on the east coast, with over 100,000 pepper plants.
After years of cultivation, Ed broke new ground in the chili pepper market when he developed the Carolina Reaper. His passion for heat was a significant factor in his ability to set off a chain reaction throughout a whole sector.
Finally, individuals around the world began to take notice. Later, Guinness World Records declared the Carolina Reaper the hottest chili pepper in the world.
Ghost Pepper – Overview
Originally from Northeast India and Bangladesh, the ghost pepper has been around for generations. However, it wasn’t until 2000 that Bhut Jolokia was first introduced to the western world, belonging to the Capsicum Chinese family like Scotch Bonnet, Habanero, and Red Savina. (2)
In the same year, a study was released claiming that its degree of heat was almost twice that of a Red Savina Habanero, which was thought to be the hottest pepper in the world.
The Guinness Book of World Records officially recognized the ghost pepper as the chili pepper with the highest measured level of heat in the year 2007; however, the current record holder is the Carolina Reaper.
The Bhut Jolokia, also known by its more famous names such as Bih Jolokia, Bhut jolokia, Nagahari, Raja chili, Raja Mircha, or Borbih Jolokia, has been grown in the Nagaland and Assam area of northeastern India and since the word “bhut” translates to “ghost” in the Assamese language, this kind of pepper is often referred to as the “ghost pepper” in the English-speaking countries.
Carolina Reaper vs. Ghost Pepper
When looking at the measures of Carolina Reaper and ghost pepper on the Scoville scale, it can be easy to get lost in the heat and forget what makes them so unique and distinctive.
Due to this common oversight, many individuals are unaware of how extraordinary each of these peppers is on their own.
Let’s examine each in detail to get a clearer picture of the differences and similarities.
The ghost pepper, also known as Bhut Jolokia, is said to have originated in Northeast India and resulted from a spontaneous hybridization between the species Capsicum frutescens and chinense.
On the other hand, Ed Currie, who also founded The Puckerbutt Pepper Company, came up with the idea for the Carolina Reaper—the hottest chili pepper in the world.
This one-of-a-kind pepper was created by mixing a Naga pepper from Pakistan with a La Soufrière habanero from the Caribbean.
Let’s get one thing straight: Both Carolina Reaper and ghost pepper pack a serious punch when it comes to heat.
Surprisingly, the wicked and spicy Carolina Reaper surpassed the ghost pepper to become the hottest pepper in the world in 2018 (and present), breaking the previous Guinness World record.
The ghost pepper, which has an estimated 1,041,427 Scoville heat units (SHU), is scorching and will cause most people to run for the milk. Let’s put that in perspective with the jalapeño pepper, which only has 2,000 to 8,000 SHUs. (3)
However, since jalapeños are more significant in size than Carolina Reapers, chewing a whole pepper would be pretty uncomfortable.
Now you may wonder, how does the Carolina Reaper stack up against other spicy peppers?
On the Scoville scale, it is reported that the Carolina Reaper may reach over 2 million SHUs, equivalent to double the amount of heat as the ghost pepper—It’s hot, and by hot, we mean HOT!
Both of these peppers have a considerable amount of heat packed into them. And it should come as no surprise that they are the star ingredient in so many world-famous hot sauces.
The ghost pepper is undoubtedly among the most common varieties of peppers due to its fruity and powerful taste packed with an optimum heat level.
All ghost peppers have a flowery and fruity flavor with a sweet undertone, making the heat somewhat manageable. On the other hand, if you have ever taken a bite out of a raw Carolina Reaper pepper, you may have experienced a momentary taste of sweetness just before the searing heat of the pepper took over.
The majority of the hot sauces are prepared from Carolina Reaper peppers, and most of them have a level of spiciness that makes them unsuitable for daily consumption.
By any chance, if you are looking for an extraordinary Carolina Reaper sauce, you need to go no farther than the man who first developed the reaper—Ed Currie.
After trying various hot sauces, we discovered that PuckerButt produces some of the best Carolina Reaper sauces on the market today.
Carolina reaper and ghost pepper may be easily distinguished from one another.
The similarities and contrasts in their external presentation are readily apparent when compared side by side. The Carolina Reaper’s appearance is red and rough, with what may be described as a “stinger” or “tail” at the very end.
Although it has a more conventional pepper look, the surface of the ghost pepper has a rougher feel. The pods are often rather long and thin, having an end that is tapered to a point.
The ghost peppers are best cultivated at 75 °F; however, when planted in warm soil with temperatures between 80-90 °F, the seed might take up to 34 days to germinate. (4)
On the other hand, the ideal temperature range for the healthy growth of the Carolina reaper is between 64-68 °F. (5) It is also suggested that you cultivate both Carolina Reaper and ghost pepper in 30–40 centimeters in diameter containers to limit its development and hasten fruit production.
Due to the recent uptick in demand for hotter dishes, both Carolina Reaper and ghost pepper have become extremely popular.
Unfortunately, this has not led to the greater availability on the shelves of local stores. Suppose you attempt to find them in your immediate area.
In that case, you will most likely be dissatisfied with your efforts unless you discover a farmers’ market with some very ambitious gardeners. Note that seeds can be found in a dried form online.
The Carolina Reaper may be the hottest pepper in the world, but the ghost pepper has a far wider distribution.
Over the years, its reputation has garnered a cult-like following—very difficult to replace. On the other hand, the reputation of the Carolina Reaper is rapidly expanding since it not only packs a punch but also has a unique flavor that sets it apart from other chili peppers.
Try the habanero and the Scotch bonnet if you can’t handle the spice level of reapers and ghost peppers.
These peppers are fiery, but you won’t lose your mind trying them.
The Final Cut
So there you have it, a detailed comparison between Carolina Reaper and ghost pepper.
If you ever find the courage to taste one of these bite-sized beasts, be sure to have some dairy on hand. Even though the Carolina Reaper is now the hottest pepper in the world (Ed Currie is vigorously developing a hotter pepper), both peppers will miserably kill your mouth if you aren’t ready.
However, if you call yourself a spice-guru, we’re sure you’ll find your soul-pepper somewhere right here.