How to Cook with Chili Peppers

While most people can recognize a chili pepper when they spot it in the grocery, they are intimidated by it due to its reputation of being extremely hot. But they can’t be that difficult to use, can they? After all, they are eaten every day by millions of Mexican and Latin American citizens. Here’s a closer look at the chili pepper, how it should be cleaned and stored, and what it should be cooked with.

About Chili Peppers

There are more than 100 different varieties of chili peppers that are commonly used in Mexican cuisine, and they range in flavor from sweet to extremely fiery. While these peppers were once typically only found in specialty Mexican or gourmet groceries, they can now be found in nearly every grocery store around the nation. Chili peppers can be used in their fresh or dried state, and sometimes even in the powdered form.

Cleaning Chili Peppers

Despite popular belief, the heat associated with chili peppers does not, in fact, come from the meat of the chili pepper, but rather from the seeds, veins and other parts nearest to the veins. If you are a heat lover, this should be no problem, but for those people who want a little bit of spice but aren’t ready for the whole pepper, this can be too much. For a milder chili pepper taste, carefully remove all seeds and veins, and discard them. Be sure to carefully rinse the inside of the chili pepper to remove any remains of these products. If you are especially sensitive, you may want to wear gloves while doing this, as the oil of the seeds can be very irritating to the skin, especially if you’re sensitive to this kind of thing. Be sure to avoid touching your face, nose, mouth and especially eyes while cleaning chili peppers, as this can transfer the oil to these areas and cause great pain and discomfort.

Cooking with Chili Peppers

Chili peppers can be used for cooking in a variety of ways. Though they were once used only for Mexican dishes, they are now becoming more and more popular in a variety of cuisines around the world. Chili peppers can be fire roasted and added to salads, pureed and put in sauces, or even diced and added to pasta salads. In order to find your preferable method of using chili peppers, you must experiment. Try a different recipe each week. You will be amazed at how versatile these tiny peppers can be.

Storing Chili Peppers

Chili peppers should be stored using a specific process for best results. Place a clean, dry paper towel inside a fresh ziplock bag, and store the cleaned chili pepper between two sides of the paper towel. The towel will absorb any moisture that the pepper may lose, and the ziplock bag will ensure that no chili pepper oil will escape and infect the other products in your refrigerator.


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