I recently visited a chili exhibition and found the ‘Carolina Reaper’ on display which the Guinness Book dubbed the hottest chili in the world, surpassing the previous record holder, the Trinidad Scorpion. The official heat level of this variety is an average of 1,569,300 Scoville Heat Units with the hottest individual pepper reaching 2.2 million SHUs. This renders the Carolina Reaper 250 times hotter than a regular Jalapeño. Of course I picked one pod off the plant while no-one was watching.

When I got home, I opened the pod and planted the seeds and I realised that I should have been wearing rubber gloves because my hands felt severely sun-burnt for the following three days. Two weeks later I had seven tiny chili plants growing on my kitchen counter and if our cats won’t come amiss, I might be able to harvest my first home-grown chilis next autumn.

As mentioned before, we have been working on our first ketchup production on a larger scale for months now but have failed so far. In May last year we produced 3.1 tons of ketchup and filled 9000 bottles. Unfortunately one of us forgot to add the sugar, so we had to start all over again. We ordered another round of bottles from our manufacturer, which delayed the production by 4 months. On the day of the scheduled second production, however, the bottles were still stuck in customs so we had to leave once again empty-handed. Another two weeks later our bottles had finally arrived, so I drove down to Italy for the third time, just to discover that the new bottles were not compatible with our filling machine – or vice versa.

While we are hoping for an engineering miracle to happen after which I will head down to Tuscany for the fourth time in just a few months, I intend go back to the kitchen, don my rubber gloves and – inspired by my recent botanical excursion – work on a new complement to our ketchup: Chili Sauce.