Tip: Handling Hot Peppers
Hot peppers contain a nutrient in them called capsicum. Capsicum is what creates the burning sensation in your mouth when you eat something that’s made with hot peppers. It can also burn your skin. When you pick peppers with your bare hands, the capsicum can get on your skin and burn. If you touch your eyes or your mouth with the capsicum on your skin, you can actually get burns that need to be treated medically.
The best thing to do when handling peppers is to wear gloves. This will protect your skin from the capsicum. While you’re working with the peppers, even with gloves on, be careful of touching any exposed skin, your eyes, or your mouth at any time. Constantly be cautious that what you’re handling can physically hurt your skin.
I wear rubber gloves so that I don’t worry about getting them wet. But, I’ve used garden gloves to pick them in a pinch.
The whole time I’m touching the raw pepper, I wear gloves. And, when it’s time to take them off, I wash my hands with them on, using soap and hot water. Only then do I remove them, being careful not to touch the outside of them.
You might even want to wear a mask or a handkerchief over your mouth and nose while you’re cutting fresh peppers. Otherwise, the area around your cutting board can become toxic as if you’d sprayed pepper spray (which is made from — yep — capsicum.) The day I took these pictures I almost had to leave the kitchen once I had the peppers sliced. It was quite painful. My eyes watered, my nose started running, the back of my throat burned, and it started to hurt to take a breath making me cough uncontrollably. It was a terrible sensation, and the next time I go into cutting jalapenos or any hot pepper, I will make sure I don’t breathe in the fumes without some type of protection.
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