Hot peppers can provide a wonderful fire to your favorite recipes, but watch out for the burning sensation you don't want---the one that can occur once a hot pepper has been cut open. A substance called capsaicin causes the heat in peppers; it is found on the ribs of the pepper and in the seeds, so you must protect your skin when preparing them because the irritation can be very painful. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this unpleasant effect.
Things You'll Need
- Latex, vinyl, or nitrile (synthetic rubber) surgical gloves Lemon juice Yogurt Baggies Non-stick cooking spray
Wear disposable latex surgical gloves when preparing peppers. This is the most effective way of preventing burns from hot peppers as it completely cuts off the contact between peppers and your skin. People who have an allergy to latex may want to substitute those made from nitrile or vinyl which are acceptable substitutes, but they are harder to find. Yellow rubber cleaning gloves will work. However, since they do not fit snugly, they are not as effective, and they are a little awkward to use.
Spray your hands thoroughly with non-stick coating before starting to cut hot peppers. The capsaicin becomes neutralized when it bonds with the fat.
Use sour cream or yogurt (not fat-free) as a hand lotion before starting to process peppers. The fat in the sour cream and yogurt acts in the same way that no-stick cooking spray works and will not have any affect on the taste of the peppers.
Begin your preparation of the peppers by removing the ribs and seeds during the slicing process; they have no flavor and are the principal cause of the heat. Carefully dispose of these where children might not accidentally be able get a hold of them. And keep in mind that capsaicin has the same effect on all mammals; keep the seeds from the family pets as well.
Tips & Warnings
- If your skin does come in contact with the peppers, you can effectively neutralize the capsaicin by rinsing the affected area with lemon juice, yogurt or sour cream.
- If you get capsaicin in your eyes, seek medical attention.
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