Peppers: Don't Fear the Heat

January 6, 2018

     In the Beach Blanket Bistro cookbook several varieties of peppers are frequently used ingredients  Unfortunately, this strikes fear into many people.  Immediately on seeing the word pepper, images of watering eyes and burning tongues are conjured.  I'm here to tell you, "Don't fear the heat."

     Yes, peppers can have a lot of heat.  Yes, if you mishandle a hot pepper you will be uncomfortable. But that doesn't mean you can't cook with them and bring out the flavor, not just heart.

      Peppers, even of the same variety can have varying levels of heat, so you can never really judge exactly how hot the pepper may actually be, but there are ways to prepare peppers to minimize the heat while maintaining the flavor.   To "cool" a pepper down, how you clean it matters.  Remove the seeds and any white flesh inside the pepper.  The capsaicinoids, the chemical compounds that create the heat are concentrated more heavily in these seeds and white portions.  

       As for the fear of handling hot peppers, there is a way to protect yourself and a way to remedy any unwanted exposure.  The simplest remedy is to wear gloves when slicing and cleaning peppers, avoid rubbing your eyes or other sensitive areas.  

       So what is the remedy? Dairy.  The more full fat the dairy the better it is.  If you eat something too hot, drink some milk.  If you touch a sensitive area, pour some milk on it.  I even wash my hands with an ounce of half and half after dealing with peppers, then I wash them with soap and water.

      So use the pepper, get the flavor and don't fear the heat.


Tags: Raspberry Puff Pastry

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