Handling Tips

When one talks about hot peppers one thinks always of a burning sensation in the mouth. However, if you are handling fresh chillis you must remember that the oils and juices in the flesh will burn your fingers as successfully as they will burn your tongue. They must be treated with great care.

  • Wear rubber gloves, especially if preparing the hotter varieties. Some people say that ‘buttering’ your hands will protect them, but rubber gloves are a great deal more efficient.
  • When you have finished preparing chillis, wash both the gloves and your hands very thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  • NEVER TOUCH YOUR EYES, NOSE OR MOUTH until you have washed your hands and gloves. The skin in these areas is very sensitive and will react painfully to any contact with the peppers.
  • If you do burn yourself with the chilli, treat the burn as you would any other burn. Run it under cold water and dress it with a baking powder paste or a burn ointment.
  • Dried chillis do not present the same hazards in handling as they lack the volatile oil present in the fresh fruit. Nonetheless, they should be treated with respect!
  • I personally recommend that one of the best ways to help cool down your mouth is to chew on a large piece of cheese. The oils found in cheese tend to mix with and thus dilute the oils present in chilli peppers. There really is no point in gulping down vast quantities of water as it is a bit like “water off a ducks back”.
  • Pure lemon or lime juice mixed with a little sugar water is also a fairly good “fire extinguisher” as the juice in both fruits acts as a grease cutter and can help soothe the burn.
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