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X-Treme Cooking

Teresa Nielsen Hayden writes:

Making Light: Listening to habaneros: Habaneros are in season, those wicked little hot peppers that clock in at 100K - 580K Scovilles.*... I%'ve been working up improved methods for dealing with them. Here's the principle: Capsaicin, the molecule that makes hot peppers hot, is hydrophobic, meaning it doesn't like water. Safely handling habaneros isn't just a matter of wearing rubber gloves and never touching your face (though you do have to wear rubber gloves and avoid touching your face). Less obviously, you want to avoid having lots of habanero come into contact with water that isn't heavily loaded with detergent. If you've ever handled metallic sodium, you know the drill, except you use olive oil instead of kerosene....

Equipment: A large glass jar (I used recycled spaghetti sauce jars) that will fit in your microwave oven. A tight lid for the jar. Rubber gloves, which you will infallibly wear every time you're handling habaneros. (Goggles aren't a bad idea, either.) A metal strainer. A microwave oven. Lots of dish detergent. Lots of paper towels. Utensils that aren't made of wood, unless you're planning to throw them away afterward. Optionally, an aerosol degreasing cleaner like Orange Clean or Xenit--it's handy for the cleanup phase. Ingredients: Fresh habaneros, half a dozen to a couple of dozen, depending on your tastes and ambitions. A big bottle of fresh olive oil...