Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How-To: Work with Hot Peppers

My first tip is regarding working with fresh, hot peppers.  If you've worked with fresh peppers before, you know that if you work bare-handed and touch your eyes, or other sensitive body parts, it burns like nothing else!

The part of the pepper with the capsaicin (oil that burns/creates heat) is in the seeds and the 'placenta' (membrane which holds the seeds in place).  If you are working with a hot pepper in a recipe and don't want much heat, then use less seeds.  Typically, the smaller the pepper, the hotter it is.

Tips for working with fresh, hot peppers:
  1. ALWAYS wear gloves--from handling to washing the knife and board you used to cut them up.
  2. Do not touch any part of your body with the gloves--sneeze/cough into your elbow, remove hair with a shoulder, or itch against a counter.
  3. Remove the gloves without touching your skin.
  4. If you happen to touch your skin with the pepper oil, immediately rinse with whole milk, cream, sour cream, or rub butter on it.  The fat surrounds the oil and gets it off the skin; then you wash the affected area with a degreaser like Dawn.
How do I know this?  Well.......in culinary school, I had the misfortune to rub my eyes after working with hot peppers barehanded AND washing my hands (yes, there was still oil on them!).  It burned like nothing I've ever felt, and the Chef grabbed heavy cream and splashed it in my eyes.  Relief was instantaneous!  NEVER will I do that again!

Have you had that same experience?  Bet you will never do it again!

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