Cooking With Hot Peppers & Sauces

Cooking with Hot Pepper, especially Super Hot ones like Ghost, Scorpion & Reaper, requires and understanding of the Scoville ratings used to classify a specific peppers heat level. With Jalapeno coming in at 5K Scoville and the Carolina Reaper at 2.2M (that’s Million) Scoville, you’ll want to use the right amount of your chosen pepper. You can use literally any pepper in your dish as long as it is in the correct amount. You need to know what ‘your’ Scoville tolerance is.

Hot Pepper Scoville Ratings

Jalapeno – 5K
Serrano – 20K
Cayenne – 40K
Habanero – 300K
Ghost – 1.2M
Reaper – 2.2M

As you see there is big jump to Habanero from the milder peppers. It’s all math from here. If you currently use 5 Cayenne (5 * 40K = 200K) in a dish, you can probably use 1 Habanero (300K) instead though it might be a bit spicier than usual. Jumping to a Ghost (1.2M) would be 5 times hotter and could ruin your dish if you are not ready for that much heat.

Hot Pepper Storage

Hot Peppers, bought from the store or picked from your plants, do not last very long. You might get a week or so in the fridge, even less out on the counter, before they get soft and loose their fresh look and feel. Once soft, they’ll still be good to use but not for much longer. Unless you are sure you will use them soon, the better option is to freeze them. Hot Peppers freeze really well and in the process it breaks down the fibers which helps when you want to puree them to add to your dish. This helps distribute the heat and flavor throughout your dish, avoiding ‘hot spots’ from biting into a chunk of say Carolina Reaper. For some that is the fun of it, but when cooking for the family you might want to avoid it. I generally do not rinse the peppers before freezing unless they are noticeably dirty. You will rinse them before use anyway.

Heat is in the pepper seeds!

The Heat is Not in the Seeds! Inside the pepper is a white pulpy substance called the pith or placenta where the seeds are formed. There is also  a clear oily substance that is Capsaicin, that is where the heat is. You can, and should in most cases, remove the seeds for mostly aesthetic reasons, though they can affect the taste. You can scrape out the Pith with the seeds to remove some heat if needed. The easiest way to remove the seeds, and pith, is to cut the pepper in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds out with a spoon. Make sure to use gloves when handling the cut peppers. Getting Capsaicin in your eyes or on other sensitive areas can be quite painful, though should only burn for 10 minutes or so .. but that can be a long 10 minutes.

Cooking with Hot Sauce

Using Hot Sauce in your dishes is more subjective. The sauce could be made with 1 or 10 or 30 Carolina Reapers lets say. Well the 1 pepper version would be super mild and the 30 pepper version unbearable. Trial and error is your best bet until you learn your ingredients and how much effect they have on your dish.

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