handling habanero peppers - please read

Hello members!

This week you are receiving habanero peppers in your share box. Habanero peppers are growing fast in popularity but it's important to know that handling a wickedly hot habanero is a totally different experience than handling a barely medium-heat jalapeño. The peppers are coming in their own plastic wrap, but it's still best to leave the unpacking of the box this week to an adult. 


If you don’t follow some simple rules when cooking with habanero peppers, you could be in for a world of unexpected pain. Here are our (http://www.pepperscale.com/cooking-with-habanero-peppers/5 must-follow rules to keep you happy and pain-free in the kitchen:

1. Wear food handling gloves when cooking with habanero peppers.
This is true, really, for handling any hot peppers, but especially those at the top end of the pepper scale. Their level of capsaicin, the compound behind chili peppers that acts as an irritant, is much higher than jalapeños. If you work with these chilies gloveless, it’s a guarantee that you’re in for a nasty case of chili burn, both on your fingers and anywhere you rub.

2. Careful what you touch even when wearing gloves.
The gloves are going to protect your fingers, but touching any part of your body with the gloves after you’ve handled habaneros can again lead to severe chili burn. Most especially – resist any urge to rub your eyes, even with what you think is a clean part of your gloved hand. Wait until you’ve removed your gloves and washed your hands thoroughly.

3. Know how to treat chili burn before you start cooking with habanero peppers.
Believe us, you don’t want to be scrambling for the antidote after the fact. The pain of chili burn can feel pretty severe, and the last thing you want to do is be scrambling for your mobile device to find the answer, contaminating everything with habanero oils in the process. Treating chili pepper burn due to touching or eating hot peppers  is not something you can simply treat with water. In fact, you’ll find that water does nothing at all. It may even make you feel worse!

So what to do? Here are a few good remedies that you should follow if chili burn has got you down. If one doesn’t work as well for you, try the next on the list.

Water is not your friend here.

The heat you feel in a chili pepper burn is caused by capsaicin. And while capsaicin is not an oil, per se – the compound has oil-like qualities. The first one being: it repels water. So that water you’re throwing at your burning mouth and hands is doing you no good.

Your best option: Milk

If you watch any extreme chili pepper eating videos, you’ll often see them running for milk the minute the pain gets intense. There’s a reason why: Acidic things break down oils, and milk, it may surprise you, is slightly acidic. So milk not only feels good because it’s thick and coats your throat, it also relieves the burn faster than anything else out there. If you’ve got hands burning from peppers, you can also soak your hands in milk to provide relief. For both drinking and soaking, cold milk is best. If the milk gets warm over soak time, replace it with fresh milk straight from the refrigerator. If you don’t have milk around – other dairy products will work as substitutes as well, such as ice cream, cottage cheese, and yogurt.

The next best things:

Acidic liquids: Citrus juices can work here, especially lime juice and lemon juice. But of course neither of these are pleasant to drink. For chili pepper burns on the skin, this is an excellent option.

Vegetable Oils: It’s sort of like fighting fire with fire here. Capsaicin is soluble in vegetable oils. You can scrub your hands with some to relieve the pain. You could even gargle with a little bit to relieve a burning mouth. But note that this tactic may end up surprising you and spreading the heat around more. It’s essentially diluting the heat, but making it more likely to spread (in its weakened form) in the process.

Other chili burn remedies that may work:

Don’t have milk, acidic liquids, or vegetable oils handy? That’s ok. There are other things that you can do that may help stop the pain.