Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Safety tips when preparing hot peppers

Well my garden has finally sprung some tasty fruits and vegetables, which are notably my tomatoes and jalapeno peppers. I will soon be preparing summer time snacks such as pico de gallo and hot salsas. I have a weird fascination with eating incredibly hot spicy food (when not indulging in my Czech dishes). I like a good hot buffalo wings, hot sauces, and even a good stuffed jalapeno popper.
Hot peppers are actually quite tasty to eat, but they can be very painful to prepare if you do not exercise caution. I have a couple of quick safety tips to keep in mind when preparing these little devils in your spicy dishes.

Hands – Always keep a pair of latex gloves handy to wear prior to washing and cutting the hot peppers. Some people are unfazed by skin contact and peppers, while many others will feel the burn when in contact with the capsaicin being emitted from the pepper. Capsaicin is the “heat” element found in hot peppers. It is usually concentrated within the seeds and membrane of the pepper. Just remember to keep the gloves on until the prepping is done and the cutting board, knife, and counter are cleaned off. That capsaicin will attach to everything! Don’t touch yourself or anyone else while in contact with the peppers.
Eyes – Whatever you do, do not under any circumstances rub your eyes. I don’t care how bad they itch. I made this sad mistake a long time ago and that was extremely painful. I was actually wearing a contact lens at the time and it literally curled up like a shriveled potato chip after I pried it out my burning eye. Ah yes, peppers are a wonderful thing….
Mouth – Should you ingest a pepper that is way to fiery for your tastes and has you sweating profusely, do not reach for the water glass. Water will actually spread the fire as the capsaicin oil is further spread by the water. Instead, reach for a glass of cold milk. The milk contains fats which will absorb the capsaicin and “put out the fire”. Other people recommend crackers, but I have not put that to the test.

Cutting Peppers
Peppers should be cut lengthwise, seeded and have the skin removed before the dicing up to add to your dish. Some people prefer to retain the seeds to keep the dish fiery hot. Not me! I still find plenty of spice contained within the flesh of the pepper.
If you do enjoy a good hot pepper, consider using jalapeno or cerrano. If you wish to go the extreme, then consider a habanero. Just remember to exercise caution when preparing these little hot peppers.

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