Is Dried Chilli Hotter Than Fresh?
by The Chilli Guru on Mar 19, 2023
Chillies are a popular ingredient in many cuisines worldwide, and their heat and flavour can add a lot of character to dishes. But when it comes to chilli heat, is dried chilli hotter than fresh? Let's take a look.
The Scoville Scale
The Scoville scale is the standard measure of chilli pepper heat. It rates chillies on a scale from 0 (no heat) to 16 million (the hottest recorded). The heat of a chilli is determined by its capsaicin content, which is the active compound that gives chillies their fiery kick.
Fresh vs Dried Chillies
When it comes to fresh vs dried chillies, there are some differences in terms of heat levels. Generally speaking, fresh chillies tend to be less hot than their dried counterparts because they contain a higher ratio of water to capsaicin. If you're looking for a milder kick, fresh chillies (particularly the less spicy varieties) are the way to go. On the other hand, dried chillies (especially super hots) may be your best bet if you want something ballistic.
Drying a chilli reduces it to roughly 1/10th of its wet weight but with the same amount of capsaicin gram for gram. This is because capsaicin is oil-based and therefore loses little to no volume in dehydration.
Cooking with Chillies
When cooking with either fresh or dried chillies, it's important to remember that the longer you cook them, the more intense their flavour will become. If you're looking for an extra kick in your dish, cooking with dried chillies will be your best bet, as they tend to impart more heat (albeit with less flavour) during cooking than fresh ones. However, if you're looking for something milder, cooking with mild fresh chillies is your best option, as they will impart a lesser heat level during cooking.
It's important to remember to compare like-for-like varieties when considering heat levels.
For heat & flavour, try cooking with a combination of fresh & dried chillies. It's also worth remembering that chilli powder can be a thickener for sauces and will absorb moisture if cooked long enough.
So is dried chilli hotter than fresh? The answer is yes – when considering like for like, dried chilli peppers are always hotter than their fresh counterparts due to their gram-for-gram higher capsaicin content due to the lower water content. However, when it comes to cooking with either type of pepper, it's important to remember that the longer you cook them, the more intense their flavour will become. So if you're looking for a megalomaniac heat level, cooking with dried peppers may be your best bet!