Handling The Heat: Chili Peppers

Adding chili peppers can give any dish an added kick for incredible flavor. But before you enjoy these hot peppers, you  need to know how to handle them. Certain recipes often call for peppers to be seeded, which means you have to remove all of their seeds and veins. All the heat stored in those seeds, however, can be irritating to skin. Here are a few proper precautions to take when using chili peppers in your cooking:

Use gloves
Because the heat factor of some peppers negatively affects skin, it’s best to use rubber gloves and throw them out before touching any other foods.

Decide if you want heat
By using the right method, you can actually remove some of the heat from the pepper you’re preparing. To do so, hold a jalapeno by the stem and slice off the sides as you rotate. If  you remove both the seeds and the membrane, you’ll also be taking away a lot of the heat.

Using dried chilies
If you’re working with dried chilies, which can be used in longer cooking dishes like stews, marinades and dry rubs, they must be toasted and pureed. Start by stemming and seeding them. Submerge the toasted chilies in hot water and soak until they’re soft. Then puree in the blender or food processor with a little stock or water. Use it to infuse chili flavor into any recipe. Online culinary courses can help you create perfectly spiced dishes with chili peppers.

Wash your hands
When you’re finished handling the peppers, wash your hands well with soap and water. Be careful not to touch your eyes after dealing with peppers because the oils will cause them to burn.

Don’t drink water
If you happen to eat a hot pepper and can’t take the heat, don’t reach for a tall glass of water – this will only make the effects worse. Instead, choose dairy, like milk or sour cream for an instant antidote.

Know which peppers pack a punch
Here are a few hot peppers to choose from for your dishes:

Jalapeno: This small, dark green chili is 2 to 3 inches long and their flavor can vary from hot to very hot.

Poblano: A poblano pepper is also very dark green and is triangular-shaped with a pointed end. This pepper’s heat can range from mild to hot.

Serrano: This small green chili has big flavor and can really pack the heat.

Ancho: This is a fairly large, triangular-shaped chili and has medium to dark reddish-brown skin. They’re full in flavor, ranging from mild to medium-hot.

Chipotle: The chipotle pepper offers a very smoky, yet very hot flavor.

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