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Turn Up the Heat!
 
Hot peppers or chilis have always been around, but never has such a variety been readily obtainable in the supermarkets of North America.  Recent research suggests that health benefits can be derived from the moderate use of peppers containing capsaicin, the heat-inducing chemical that we perceive orally when we eat foods containing hot peppers.  Capsaicin is a stimulant in the sense that it raises the metabolic rate, allowing you to burn more calories and maintain a trim weight with less effort.  It’s also reputed to have disinfectant and preservative qualities.
However, this heat may also be felt on your hands after preparing hot peppers; wise cooks protect their eyes and hands from capsaicin by wearing rubber gloves and goggles; tongs can be used conveniently if you’re chopping a small amount.  If you have any tendency toward contact dermatitis, your unprotected hands may swell after chopping a large number of very hot peppers. 
Find a HOT apron with chili peppers!

(Hot peppers should be consumed with caution or avoided by anyone with inflammatory bowel disease, canker sores, or stomach ulcers.) 

The hottest parts of the chilis are the seeds and the white pith inside.  Remove and discard those parts unless you are a true addict of searing heat!

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Although individual peppers of the same type may vary to some extent, generally, different types of chilis may be classified according to the number of Scoville units typically found in a pepper.  This rating system helps cooks determine how much minced pepper to use in a recipe.
Heart-shaped Pepper
Different types of peppers also have characteristic flavors and complexity.  Roasting peppers adds an additional dimension of flavor.  The idea is to blacken the skin so that it slips off easily; this may be accomplished on your grill, in your oven, or even directly on a stove element.  Placing freshly roasted peppers in a covered bowl to cool helps to steam the skin off.
Cherry Pepper: a mild variety of hot chili If you’re cautious regarding hot peppers, the food processor is your friend.  Using liquid, such as lime juice, vinegar, or tomato juice, you can puré hot peppers to eliminate hot spots in your food, in order to appreciate a mild version of the chilis you use in your recipes.  In this way you can enjoy the benefits without the pain! The benefits include Vitamins C, A, E, and B Complex--all of the B Vitamins--in high quantities.
A good chili for the novice to start with is the sweet cherry pepper with a Scoville rating of 1, one of the mildest hot peppers, though it can be confused with a hotter variety that looks similar but has a rating of 7 Scoville units.  Anaheim peppers tend to be quite mild, with a rating of 2. The Jalapeño is hotter (6 Scoville units), but readily available in markets and very popular roasted or smoked (the chipotlé).  You can roast one or a few of these and store them in lime juice in your refrigerator to add to recipes over a few weeks’ time, adding a delicious flavor dimension (not to mention the wonderful fragrance in your kitchen when you roast them on the stove top).  Add chilis to guacamolé, salsa, Spanish Rice, Chili con Carne, Tostadas, or pepper jelly.
Scotch Bonnet
Poblanos & Cubanelle
Chili Pepper Rings

Quick Chili Pickle:

When you find yourself with an abundance of fresh chili peppers and no way to consume them quickly, try this quick pickle technique. It will allow you to use the peppers up more slowly without them withering. Simply slice the fresh peppers into rings, removing the seeds if you want to control the heat, and toss them into a clean pickling jar.

In a small saucepan, heat water and vinegar; stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Allow the pickling solution to reach the boiling point, then pour carefully into the jar to cover your chili pepper rings. Seal the jar and place on a wire rack to cool, and then refrigerate until needed.

Quick Pickle Solution

1 cup pickling vinegar

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

Serrano Chilis

Make your own hotsauce: Louisiana hot sauce is special, made from fermented chilis. But that doesn't mean you can't make your own special hot sauce; if you do, you can better control the heat of the resulting condiment. You can dilute the hot peppers with tomatoes and sweet peppers to obtain a sauce that suits your taste.

Try making a sauce with a couple of jalapeños, Scotch bonnets, and Anaheim chilis, and some diced, seeded fresh tomatoes. Or, you may use canned tomatoes or even tinned tomato soup. If you like, you can roast some jalapenos, mince them, and preserve them in lime juice in your refrigerator until you're ready to make your sauce, giving you a fermented characteristic. The chilis should keep well for a long time in the lime juice because both hot peppers and lime juice have strong preservative qualities.

Two cloves of minced garlic and a minced pearl onion or tablespoon of cooking onion can be sautéed in olive or peanut oil until transparent. Add your minced peppers and sautée, being careful not to put your face too close to the pot, especially if you have any lung problems. Scotch Bonnet peppers have a wonderful, unique aroma that you will notice as you're chopping them. Of course, you will want to wear rubber gloves or latex gloves and even glasses to protect your eyes. Anything that touches the chilis should be washed afterwards.

Hot Spicy Housewares & Gifts!

I added 2 tablespoons of Hungarian paprika, a few drops of Bufalo sauce, a splash of Balsamic vinegar, a pinch of sea salt, and liberal amounts of freshly ground peppercorns to my sauce and simmered it for roughly an hour. I let it cool a bit and puréed it with a hand blender, then poured it into a clean mason jar. The resulting sauce was hot yet pleasant, with a smokey flavor. I can use a teaspoon in a recipe to add a mysterious smokey quality, or a tablespoon or two for more noticeable heat.

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