Chile peppers add a special flavorful dimension to cooking. Not only just the heat and spice, but a variety of flavor sensation too!
When you visit the grocery market today, you'll find more variety of chile peppers than ever. Some peppers are more on the mild side and other chili peppers pack enough wallop of heat, they can take your breath away.
There's actually an somewhat standard and commonly used method to rate the heat level of chili peppers. Although you may not see these ratings on display at the supermarket, "Scoville Units" are a useful way to classify the various levels of heat from one variety of chile pepper to another.
The Scoville method was developed almost 100 years ago by Wilbur Scoville, a pharmacist, in 1912. Originally, the method employed human tasters to determine by how much an extract of a pepper's pungency would have to be diluted by sweetened water to neutralize the sensation of heat from the chile peppers on the tongue.
Today, a more modern process is used called "High Performance Liquid Chromotography" (or HPLC) which measures the amount of capsaicinoids (capsaicin) in parts per million. Capsaicin is the compound found in chiles that is responsible for the heat.