9 Tips for Cooking with Hot Peppers and Flirting with Disaster!

Friends Drift Inn Farm Food Preservation and How To Work with Hot Peppers

9 Tips for Working with Hot Peppers and a funny story

SOS! HELP! My Nose is on Fire!

Will you be working with hot peppers to make chili this weekend? Did you go to Food Blog South and get those tiny little hot peppers in your swag bag? Yeah, me too.

There is an element of danger when working with hot peppers, but I like flirting with disaster. How about you?

Cooking with hot peppers tips for safety and fun

Super Bowl is our biggest party of the year, and we are gearing up to make gallons and gallons of chili. Charlie always likes to sample peppers before we start. He took a single Tepin Chile from the sample sack, a Food Blog South swag gift from MarxFoods.com. He nibbled an itsy-bitsy bite.

Judging from his reaction, some pretty strong cursing and a very red face my assumption is these Tepin Chiles are very hot. I did not ask. It just seemed like the timing was off. Giggles They will be perfect for chili!

Not wanting to totally waste the pepper pod I took it to the kitchen, smashed it open, and salvaged the seeds in hopes of growing Tepin Chiles in my garden this spring. Seed saving, it is an addiction of mine.

The pungent aroma of the seeds was overwhelming. I sneezed. I cupped my hands over my nose. That was a HUGE mistake.

My nose was on fire. My lip tingled. My hands started to burn. ACK!

My hands felt better after a quick wash in Dawn detergent. But sticking dish washing liquid up my nose just did not sound like a good idea. I did a frantic war dance shifting from side to side as my nose ignited. I expected to shoot fire from my nasal cavity at any second. Forget hot flashes, I was a fire breathing inferno of regret.

Bourbon, I needed bourbon! I went to the bar doing my crazy dance of pain. Charlie looked at me as if I had lost my senses. Maybe I had.

With a clean washcloth in hand, I splashed Jim Beam on the healing cloth and rubbed my nose and lips frantically. Instant relief. The alcohol breaks up the hot pepper oil, and once again I am reminded “Bourbon….it’s good for what ails you.” Giggles

9 Tips for Working with Hot Peppers

  • Whether you are in the garden or in the kitchen, when working with hot peppers wear gloves. Save your hands!

  • Do not touch sensitive areas of your body eyes, nose, and you know where while working with hot peppers.

  • Wash your garden gloves immediately after returning from the garden. Disgard kitchen prep gloves in a place where the kids will not see them and play with them. (Kids will be kids)

  • Dawn dishwashing liquid is my first line of defense to wash away burning pepper oils.


  • Bourbon is my second line of defense, but it’s expensive. If you have rubbing alcohol it should work to wash away the heat.

  • If you have the misfortune of biting into a hot pepper that is flaming, do not drink water. That will just spread the misery. Eat dairy; sour cream is the antidote of choice.

  • Seeds and ribs are the hottest parts of a pepper. Chef Jeremy Ashby cuts fresh hot peppers long ways first. Then he places a knife between the pepper and seeds, and with a rolling motion then removes seeds. It works!

  • I like making hot sauce.  I wear goggles when doing so. Trust me on this.

  • And a word to novice gardeners, plant your hot peppers in a different section of the garden than your sweet peppers. They will cross, important to know if you are a seed saver. It’s a real jolt to bite into a pepper you think is going to be sweet and it sets your mouth on fire. And wear gloves when you pick!

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More Pepper Ponderings
Chili Recipes
Super Bowl Recipes
Recipe: Hot Sauce with Tabasco Hot Peppers
Peppers for Your Heirloom Garden

About Joyce Pinson

Joyce Friend Pinson is a regional farm-to-table columnist for the Appalachian-News Express. She is a local television host. Her column show and blog, Friends Drift Inn, explores food, gardening, and real life farm-to-table stories from the perspective of a baby boomer in Appalachia. Joyce has a background in agriculture, media, and small business. Joyce is an heirloom gardening addict and home canner. She has a penchant for big hats, pointy toed shoes, and bourbon. Along with her husband Charlie, Joyce really does live in a barn where they ballroom dance. And laugh. And cook. And giggle.