This post is mostly about working with jalapeño peppers. Be sure to check out all of my other posts on chili peppers!
Hot peppers can add a delightful zing to lots of different dishes. There are many varieties available at your grocery store. Not only do they come in different sizes, colors and shape, but they all pack a different punch! Heat index is the official term for judging how hot a chili pepper is.
Today, I’m going to be working with just jalapeño peppers. These are mid-range in the heat index.
The safety precautions I’m going to talk about apply to the handling of all hot peppers.
Jalapeño peppers are (obviously) spelled with a “j”, but pronounced as an “h.” They can be purchased fresh in the produce department, or in cans and jars in the dry goods aisle.
Bottled or canned jalapenos are pickled, which means they are preserved in a vinegar mixture. The added vinegar in the peppers will alter the taste slightly. Nevertheless they are still a great substitute if the fresh ones are not available.
If a recipe calls for a pepper to be seeded, this just means you have to remove the seeds and veins. While it is actually the seeds and the veins that cause all the heat, the oils in the peppers can irritate your skin. Some people (including me!) always wear rubber gloves when seeding and chopping hot peppers.
To remove the seeds and veins, cut the pepper in half with a paring knife. Then just cut away the veins and the seeds.
A very clever way to remove the seeds is with a melon baller. (A melon baller has several other uses in addition to make melon balls. It is also great at removing an apple core! Who knew?
After cutting the chili in half, hold the stem end down, and roll the melon baller from the tip back to the stem end. The veins and seeds all come out in one swift motion.
You can then cut the peppers into thin strips or a fine “dice” (small 1/8 inch bits.)
Or use them to make some Jalapenos Stuffed with Sausage.
When you are finished, always wash your hands well with soap and water. After touching a jalapeno, be careful not to touch or rub your eyes, (or stick your fingers in your mouth or up your nose.) The oils will really burn!
By the way, if you eat a really hot chili and it’s burning the inside of your mouth, don’t gulp down water!!!! The best way to ease the symptoms is to drink milk or eat yogurt. Dairy products contain a substance which disrupts the burning. All water does is to spread the oils around your mouth — which sure isn’t going to help.
Incidentally, red jalapeño peppers are the same as the green ones, except they are left on the vine longer to ripen. They are sweeter but, surprisingly, not hotter than the green ones.
Oops! Almost forgot to mention bell peppers.
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