The Jalapeño Hack Everyone Needs to Know
Jalapeños look harmless, but for anyone who's suffered the fiery burn from their capsaicin-rich innards . . . you know to think otherwise. The first time I diced up a little green jalapeño, I went at it with full bravado, no gloves, bare skin. I had just booked my first job as a food stylist, and I thought I was tough. Boy, was I wrong. Not only did I manage to get that tear-jerking oil all over my face, but I also somehow managed to get a seed up my nose. True story! It was horrific. I was a blubbering red mess of snot and panic and quickly googled home remedies. Greek yogurt? Since no amount of washing, scrubbing, and soap did the trick, I plastered my face in a lovely Greek yogurt mask, which was delightfully refreshing and stopped the burn but also made me look utterly ridiculous while continuing to cook food on set.
The second time they got me? This time I was wearing gloves. I'd learned the hard way what not to do, and I wasn't going to let it get me again. I sliced and diced and whipped up a spicy guacamole perfect for our long Memorial Day barbecue, and afterward I discarded the gloves and went about cleaning up the kitchen. But there were still some chopped peppers left over, so I scooped them up to save for later. Glove-less. I think you know where this is going. Let me just say that no matter what you're doing with hot peppers, you should NEVER try to take out contact lenses afterward. Just don't do it. Ever.
How does that saying go? Fool me once? Well, now I finally have a trick that's worked out pretty well so far: plastic zippered bags! First, turn your zippered bag inside out, and then use it like a glove to hold your pepper steady while chopping. It's not quite as easy as a pair of gloves, but it works well enough. Then (this is where the genius lies), once you're done, cradle your hand around the peppers and use the knife to invert them into the palm of your hand. Turn the back right-side out again, and voila! You have a perfectly packed bag full of diced peppers ready to jazz up any recipe without the looming threat of certain eye-watering death.
What do you think of this hack? Do you have any other advice? I'd love to hear it — as well as your favorite remedies for when you do accidentally douse yourself in spice.