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September 12, 2005

Listening to habaneros
Posted by Teresa at 01:13 PM * 223 comments

Habaneros are in season, those wicked little hot peppers that clock in at 100K - 580K Scovilles.* They taste of fruit and smoke—really a yummy pepper—but their heat puts them well up into the “biohazard” range. I’ve been working up improved methods for dealing with them.

Here’s the principle: Capsaicin, the molecule that makes hot peppers hot, is hydrophobic, meaning it doesn’t like water. Safely handling habaneros isn’t just a matter of wearing rubber gloves and never touching your face (though you do have to wear rubber gloves and avoid touching your face). Less obviously, you want to avoid having lots of habanero come into contact with water that isn’t heavily loaded with detergent. If you’ve ever handled metallic sodium, you know the drill, except you use olive oil instead of kerosene.

I was once cooking with habaneros and maintained proper procedures right up until the end, when I absentmindedly took the big wok I’d been using and ran it under the kitchen tap. It seemed like only a few seconds had passed before I heard Patrick start coughing, two rooms away. I went to him, eyes streaming, and told him that we were going eat out that night while the air cleared.

What I do with habaneros is use them to make a big batch of hot pepper oil once or twice a year, and then use the oil in my cooking, a drop at a time. Capsaicins are much better behaved in oil. It simultaneously picks up the hot pepper flavor and buffers it—sort of smooths it out and spreads it around. The result is still hot, but the burn has a nice long slow buildup and fade, without that raw feral bite that makes you want to scrub your tongue.

Equipment: A large glass jar (I used recycled spaghetti sauce jars) that will fit in your microwave oven. A tight lid for the jar. Rubber gloves, which you will infallibly wear every time you’re handling habaneros. (Goggles aren’t a bad idea, either.) A metal strainer. A microwave oven. Lots of dish detergent. Lots of paper towels. Utensils that aren’t made of wood, unless you’re planning to throw them away afterward. Optionally, an aerosol degreasing cleaner like Orange Clean or Xenit—it’s handy for the cleanup phase.

Ingredients: Fresh habaneros, half a dozen to a couple of dozen, depending on your tastes and ambitions. A big bottle of fresh olive oil. (I just used up a quart.) It doesn’t have to be virginissimo, but it does have to be fresh. Additional flavoring materials to suit your fancy (see below).

I like to freeze my peppers first. It makes them more inert when you process them, they give up their flavors more quickly when they’re cooking, and it means you can make hot oil when it pleases you.

Wash the peppers when you get them home. If you have an outdoor water tap, consider washing them there. Don’t stem and seed them. Just get the outsides clean. If you’re going to freeze them, wait until they’re reasonably dry, then pop them into a plastic bag and put it in the freezer.

When you’re ready to use them, take your large glass jar and fill it half full of olive oil. Lay a plastic grocery bag or other disposable covering on your cutting board. Take each frozen habanero, holding it by its stem, and give it one quick whack with a sharp knife, making sure the cut penetrates the inner cavity. Toss the pepper into the bottle of oil. Continue until the jar is close to full, or until you run out of peppers. Add more oil if needed. Don’t fill the jar all the way. If your peppers don’t all fit, wait a bit; the peppers already in the jar are going to be collapsing soon, which should make room for the rest.

Plain habaneros will give you a satisfactory result, but if you want to get fancy, you can toss other flavoring agents into the olive oil. Some congenial additions: rosemary, citrus zest, coarse black pepper, garlic, ground coriander, plain unsweetened cocoa powder, a small pinch of cinnamon, and maybe a teeny bit of cardamom or allspice. If you dry and process your own herbs, this is a good use for the leftover seeds and stems.* If you have a particular commercial spice mixture you like, you can put in a good big pinch—olive oil will pick up anything.

Put the jar into the microwave and nuke it until it just starts to bubble, then let it sit a little while. The air inside the chiles expands and escapes when they’re heated, creating a mild vacuum when it cools. This sucks olive oil into the chile. Add more frozen peppers and nuke it again in a leisurely and episodic fashion. Whatever you do, don’t let the jar boil over, unless you fancy having to clean up a biohazard spill. I nuke my jars for a minute or two at most, and watch them the whole time like a cat at a mousehole.

Nuke and cool, nuke and cool. Add more peppers, if you’ve got them. Add more oil, if there’s room after the peppers collapse. One batch of peppers can flavor two batches of oil, if you want to make that much. Eventually, though, you’ll start feeling bored by the whole thing, which is as good a sign as any that it’s time to strain off the oil. Do so. It’s okay to press the cooked pepper mass to get more oil out, even if some water-based stuff gets squeezed out too. If you decide the oil isn’t ready yet, you can just pile everything back into the jar and run it through a few more cycles.

How to taste-test your oil: Dip something thin and pointy into it, like a skewer or a fork tine. Pull it out and let all the oil drip off. Lightly touch it to your tongue. Count to ten. If you can’t feel the heat yet, try a slightly larger sample. If you’re convinced that the oil isn’t hot enough yet, take a pair of scissors, stick them into the cooked pepper mass, and snip repeatedly until it’s chunk-style, then reheat and cool it a couple of times. If it still isn’t hot enough, you bought the wrong kind of chiles.

When the oil is satisfactorily flavored, dump everything out into a strainer. While it’s draining, wash and dry your jar. Pour the oil into the jar, put the lid on tightly, and set it in the refrigerator upside-down. When the oil has cooled and hardened, remove the lid and pour off any water that has risen to the bottom. Make sure you get every drop. If need be, pat the surface dry with a paper towel. Put up your finished oil in a nice bottle. Smaller bottles of it make good gifts for other capsaicin junkies.

Cleanup: Either put an oily dish dry into the sink, squirt it generously with dish detergent, and then run water into it, or have a good strong mix of detergent and water already standing, and drop the dish into that. I like to wash everything, then zap it with a degreaser, then wash it again.

How to use: Carefully, possibly using an eyedropper—though Beth Meacham has been known to take a spoonful of the stuff straight, first thing in the morning, to rectify her humours and make her joints stop hurting.

[Recipe Index]

Comments on Listening to habaneros:
#1 ::: T.W. ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 05:48 PM:

When cleaning a "dry" scrub of lots of baking soda will do wonders on that evil capsaicin before the soap stage. Coat and cover, let sit, brush scrub, sweep into garbage.

#2 ::: Beth Meacham ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 06:08 PM:

Beth Meacham has been known to take a spoonful of the stuff straight, first thing in the morning, to rectify her humours and make her joints stop hurting.

Indeed she does. And while you may use it by the drop, I cook with it. Yum. Are you making more of the orange scented version? I'm nearly out of that. She hinted. It makes a killer spicy orange chicken.

I suppose I could make my own, but you think of much more clever things to put in it.


#3 ::: betsy ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 06:14 PM:

i'm certain that if i took a spoonful of the stuff straight, my joints would stop hurting. (they do stop hurting after spontaneous combustion, right?)

#4 ::: Victor S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 06:16 PM:

Neat. And I thought I was the only one to smoke myself out with pepper fumes that way...
What I tend to do with habañeros these days is to tame their fiery character by ethanol extraction, and then use them like their less-puissant cousins.

Wearing lab gloves and glasses, cut 'em open and cut out the ribs and seeds. Discard those seeds and ribs. Slice the pepper bodies into strips, or whatever form you want to end up with.

Then dump 'em into your cocktail shaker. Now, change gloves and add a couple of ounces of water to the shaker. Shake hard and drain; repeat twice. This washes off some of the capsaicin by mechanical action. Repeat, using cheap spirits instead of water: gin, vodka, whatever. You can save the booze (now pepper gin, and hot!) if you like that sort of thing.

Now rinse again with water to get the gin out. Taste the water - carefully - this time. If it's too hot, so are your peppers. You may need to give it a couple more rinses, or another round of gin. The peppers will now have that fruity character, and noteworthy heat, but not the intense pain/danger factor.

Cleanup: I put the shaker into the dishwasher, discard my gloves, and wash my hands twice. Then I lick my fingers to be sure they're not dangerous, and wash 'em again.

#5 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 06:26 PM:

Beth, I'm making it if Patrick picks up the oranges I asked for. I should know within a half hour.

#6 ::: Eric Jarvis ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 06:27 PM:

I cook regularly with habaneros and bonnet peppers (which are even hotter). I'm very careful about washing my hands and any implements after touching them, but by and large don't find it a problem at all. On the other hand I'm a smoker and a guitarist, so my lungs, throat and fingers probably have sufficient scar tissue to deal with most of the "heat".

#7 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 06:27 PM:

Just note that you shouldn't use garlic in this if you plan to keep it any length of time due to a slight but real risk of botulism. Unless, of course, the straining eliminates the risk.

Personally, I'd just gently cook garlic in fresh olive oil on an as-needed basis so I could regulate the garlic and habanero flavors separately.

The orange addition sounds wonderful, though.

#8 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 06:31 PM:

This all sounds like great fun, but habaneros are my favorite pepper (perhaps as a result of too much exposure to cheap Cabernet, I really don't care for that "green pepper" thing) and I've developed my own less strenuous method for extracting flavor while avoiding spontaneous combustion.

Viz., simply a) buying one pepper at a time and handling it by the stem), b) putting the whole rinsed pepper in a tea infuser, adding that to the object of my intensification efforts, tasting at frequent intervals and c) fishing out the tea infuser when the flavor seems right.

Adds a whole new dimension to James Beard's oxtail recipe.

#9 ::: Beth Meacham ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 06:40 PM:

I'm liking the idea of infusing cocoa and coriander into it, too. I may try that verison myself. It would make a very interesting addition to Mexican dishes.

#10 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 06:55 PM:

Trader Joe's make a habanero and lime salsa that manages to preserve the taste while reducing the heat to a less eye-watering level. The secret ingredient may be carrots.

#11 ::: elizabeth bear ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 07:04 PM:

I once peeled the skin off my hands with a batch of scotch bonnet peppers, having absentmindedly touched the cutting board after taking off the gloves.

Soaking in a mixture of milk and beer does help ease the agony, should one miscalculate.

#12 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 07:12 PM:

Beth, my suggested additions are all flavors that go with the fruit-and-smoke thing. I'd use oranges, but not limes; rosemary, but not dill; coriander, but not cilentro.

...He forgot the oranges. Tomorrow, perhaps.

Larry Brennan, I know exactly the problem you're talking about, and it doesn't apply here. I once generated it in my own kitchen, back when I was first in New York. I opened my bottle of olive oil with fresh garlic cloves and suddenly realized the oil was overflowing the mouth of bottle. The garlic cloves had gone bad anaerobically, and were fizzing. I threw the whole thing out. It was a valuable lesson.

None of the flavoring materials remain in the habanero oil once it's finished cooking. You strain all that stuff out. You also very carefully remove any water that's gotten into the oil, because it really will go rancid.

I checked out your link. I have to say, I can't understand all those people who wanted to make up a garlic and olive oil bread-dipping mixture and keep it around forever. That's just wrong. You want fresh bread, fresh olive oil, freshly grated garlic, some salt, and a little snipped fresh basil if you fancy it: a dish scarcely to be improved upon.

#13 ::: Randy Paul ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 07:28 PM:

Teresa,

Melinda's Hot Sauce which I brought a boxful of bottles back from Belize thirteen years ago only to discover that it was available around the corner, also makes a great habanero/mango combination that is great for a bottled sauce.

Have you ever tried pimenta malagueta from Brazil? I made the mistake of eating one once and using the bathroom without washing my hands.

#14 ::: T.W. ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 07:37 PM:

We grow our own in the greenhouse. I simmer them down in a 1:1 mix of vinegar and sugar. Do not ever gaze/breathe over the vinegar vapours coming from the pot. Season strain bottle. I'm told you can candy them too and that just sounds wierd.

#15 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 07:48 PM:

I had a great-uncle who served a mission in South America, and who used to write his letters home after handling hot peppers. Apparently my grandmother and great-grandparents used to open his letters with tongs. (They told this story at his funeral.)

I may want to experiment with this soon--it sounds awesome. I know my boyfriend would enjoy some spicier food now and again.

#16 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 07:49 PM:

(Er. That is, experiment with making my own hot pepper oils. Not with writing biohazardous letters. As a beginner, should I start with the less fiery peppers?)

#17 ::: LeisureGuy ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 07:55 PM:

Very cool (I mean, hot). I just got some fresh habañeros at Whole Foods because they looked so good. I'm going back now to get more and try making this. Many thanks.

#18 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 08:01 PM:

I don't own a microwave. Any suggestions for a substitute?

#19 ::: cmikk ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 08:25 PM:

Back when I had a habanero plant, I found that roasting them like a bell pepper also cut the heat significantly, and enhanced the fruity/smoky flavor.

I never experimented with them much beyond eating them on toast, though. The plant broke out in aphids, and since it was a dumpster acquisition in the first place, back it went :-(

#20 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 08:25 PM:

What makes the olive oil fresh?

I do cook with hot peppers occasionally, but I'm more likely to add it to my plate in a hot sauce. Matouks makes some good ones with scotch bonnets, there's at least one with papaya in it (the west-indian I think, not the one with flames on the bottle) that has a really good taste and mid-to-high level of heat.

#21 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 08:27 PM:

No microwave, Josh? Do you have a double boiler? If not, how about a small saucepan and an overhead vent? If not, a small saucepan and an open window? The trick is to get the mixture heated up to the boiling point, but not overcook it. I tend to not use open pots and pans because of the vapor factor, and because my dishwasher has sensitive skin, eyes, sinuses, and sensibilities.

In the winter, if you have a sufficiently old-fashioned radiator or water heater, you could heat the mixture up to the boiling point, slap a lid on it, and set it on top of the radiator or water heater tank for a day or two. I'm more comfortable doing that with mixures that have less water in them than peppers do, but it would take an interesting bug to thrive on habanero peppers in a boiling-hot environment.

If you have a really old-fashioned cooking setup, heat the oil and peppers to the boiling point in a dutch oven, then nestle it down in the coals. If dutch oven thou maist none, heat the mixture in a saucepan, transfer it to a prewarmed crock with a non-airtight lid, and proceed as described.

#22 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 08:47 PM:

Beth, I also love hot food as a kind of adjunct "therapy" for my arthritis (though not habanero by the spoonful!) Endorphins, mmmm. Unfortunately my wife can't stand spicy.

Even more unfortunately, at the moment I can't take any more spicy foods, NSAIDs, caffeine, coffee, or alcohol due to an ulcer I'm currently trying to heal from. (I'd prefer to ditch all stress and keep the rest, but that's not gonna happen.) Fortunately I still have the modest pleasure of bitching and grousing about how life is barely worth living without coffee, alcohol, and spicy food.

#23 ::: Beth Meacham ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 09:03 PM:

The thing is, Clifton, that Teresa's habenero oil is tamed. It has a remarkably slow burn. I would never consider putting even a small bit of straight habenero in my mouth.

Scramble eggs in a bit of habenero oil for breakfast. It'll start the day out right for you!

#24 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 09:12 PM:

Dear heavens. I don't mind food that bites back, a little, but I draw the line at food that commits assault with intent to maim.

#25 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 09:21 PM:

I opened my bottle of olive oil with fresh garlic cloves and suddenly realized the oil was overflowing the mouth of bottle. The garlic cloves had gone bad anaerobically, and were fizzing. I threw the whole thing out. It was a valuable lesson.

I thought I was the only person in the world to have suffered this frightening kitchen mishap. I was in the habit (though laziness) of buying the Costco half-gallon tub of peeled garlic cloves and (because they would otherwise mold before I finished them) covering them with olive oil, then storing in the fridge. Wonderful process, yield peeled garlic forever and a good supply of garlicky oil that's good in everthing.

Until the time I bought the tub, covered it with olive oil, stowed it in my fridge, pulled it out three days later, and heard it.

I had a cheerful profusion of vigorous bubbles, like happy yeast in wort. Only not that.

My jar was going BLURP....BLURP...BLURP. Something was growing in my garlic. Something that needed no oxygen. And would cheerfully multiply while refrigerated.

I figured it might be botulism, and couldn't in any case be good for me. Darnit.

#26 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 09:23 PM:

Uh, with all these warnings, I think I'll just stick with buying a few cases of Tabasco sauce to support the Louisiana economy.

Although the idea of a habanero-infused martini does seem deliciously perverse....

#27 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 09:34 PM:

No, no. Straight habanero is aggravated assault. Habanero oil is chipped: still hot, but it can't hurt you.

Clifton, my mouth still thinks I'm a chile junkie; the dissenting vote comes from a different organ system. Middle age sucks.

PFiche, I don't see why you should bother making hot oils out of lesser peppers. It's just as messy and inconvenient -- even cutting up fresh jalapenos while not wearing gloves can leave you with a chemical burn, Scoville lightweights though they are -- but the results are much wimpier. Might as well make the real thing.

What I'd love to do is get my hands on half a bushel of rosemary, the way you can do in the Sunbelt. Out here, we pay three to five dollars for a little handful of sprigs. Cramming a jar with fresh rosemary, filling the interstices with top-grade olive oil, heating gently and letting it cool a couple of times, and straining it right after (wet vegetable matter macerating in oil gets nasty fast), will give you a rosemary-flavored oil that'll knock your socks off. Better still, throw some sage, garlic, orange zest, and cracked black pepper into the mix. Makes brilliant roast chicken. All you need is a teaspoon or two of that oil, gently rubbed into the chicken before roasting.

It's a great technology, and once you've got a stash of flavored oils, a lot of very nice dishes become dead easy. I'm surprised more people don't play with it.

#28 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 09:39 PM:

Daniel: Yes. Unnerving. And freelance anaerobic processes are seldom good. I know someone whose family lost several members at one go, a couple of generations back, to a novice's canned green beans. It was botulism. They all stopped breathing and died.

#29 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 09:39 PM:

I made the mistake of eating one once and using the bathroom without washing my hands.

That sounds even worse than the local idiot who decided to bulk out his codpiece with a pepperoni (\not/ wrapped) before going out on the disco floor.

#30 ::: JessieSS ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 09:54 PM:

Awesome. We have a habanero pepper bush that's about to ripen twenty peppers at once, so I'm glad to know you can freeze the suckers. I suspect ours are on the tame side--it's been a hot summer, but Boston isn't really the right climate to get that full heat--but there's still no way I can use them in bulk.

By a lucky coincidence I used half of a habanero, no seeds, in tacos tonight. I hope everyone else already knows that no matter how tough your fingers are, you should never use bare hands to chop a habanero that's going into finger food. (Actually, it's kind of neat: at that point you don't have to put the pepper in the food at all. I do not endorse this delivery mechanism.)

#31 ::: risa ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 09:55 PM:

Teresa, would tin foil and a real oven work? i also don't have a microwave, and while i personally can't take hot things (chipotle tends to be too hot for me), i have plenty of friends who love heat. however, because i'm so sizzle-sensitive i'm leery of trying to heat something like this up on the stove.

#32 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 09:57 PM:

Duly noted, Teresa.

I noticed my garlic was getting the look of a sixth grade science experiment. Can you actually prolong the freshness by soaking them in olive oil? I like the little Christopher Ranch jars, because they seem to stay the freshest out of the cloves I don't peel myself.

#33 ::: Amanda ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 09:58 PM:

Beth,

"Scramble eggs in a bit of habenero oil for breakfast. It'll start the day out right for you!"

Ummm, that sounds wonderful. I want it now.


#34 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 10:09 PM:

(Oh, and I'm sure I've shared this before, but just in case.)

One time, I was at my (very Mormon) parents' house, cooking some vegetarian pasta dish, and looking all over the kitchen for olive oil. My mother is a no-spices-except-salt-and-pepper sort of woman. Her steaks have the sort of chewy consistency that let you chew indefinitely. The ingredients in their household are somewhat lacking, and all I could find was a bucket of Crisco lard, some spray-on Pam, and some generic cooking oil. Eventually, after poking around in the cupboard, I unearth a bottle of olive oil, extra virgin, NEVER BEEN OPENED. And I go to open it, and Mom half-screams from across the room, "What are you going to do with the olive oil?"

I say, "Cook."

And she says, "You can't do that! It's been consecrated."

Note: Mormons believe in blessing people with consecrated oil. The priesthood holders of the church, ie. any male of a certain age, can give blessings, and they carry around little keychain vials with consecrated olive oil. Half the time, it will have been ages since Brother So-and-So gave anybody a requested priesthood blessing, so he'll open up his vial and the olive oil will have gone rancid. Nothing like rancid olive oil being dabbed on your forehead as incentive to get better. So, yeah, in my parents' home, you merely hoard the olive oil in case of emergency. In my home, we use it to cook.

Discussing the cooking merits of olive oil with my mother is ALMOST as much fun as discussing cooking wine.

#35 ::: jon singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 10:12 PM:

My own "Beware!" story is calmer than T's — when I was living in the Seattle area I once brought home perhaps half a dozen habas, intending to chop and freeze them. I had sliced them open on the cutting board but hadn't gotten any further when my stepdaughter came to the door of the kitchen, easily a dozen feet away, and choked. She couldn't even get into the room.

Someone said in an earlier comment that bonnets were hotter than habaneros. None of my references agrees with that. The difference isn't huge, but habas are generally listed as being slightly ahead. (Bonnets also have a distinctly different flavor and aroma, which I am not particularly fond of, but that's another story.)

Most of my info, btw, indicates that a regular habanero will probably clock in at 75K to maybe 150K Scovilles, assuming that it was grown under the correct conditions; it's only the fancy cultivars that get insanely higher, with 'Red Savina' maxing out at 577K if I recall correctly, and something called 'Francisca' not far behind it. Near as I recall, though, from what I've read, only occasional fruits are higher than about 350K Scovilles.

Then there was the claim, a couple years back, about a chilli from India (which is why I've used the variant spelling) that supposedly went as high as 855K Scovilles; but I've never seen it substantiated. I think it was stated to be some sort of _C._frutescens_ var, but that's hazy memory, so don't quote me.

Just by the bye, I'm currently growing 'Aji Dulce de Puerto Rico', one of at least 4 entirely nonhot habanero vars. (Why, you ask? Because it lets me adjust flavor and heat independently. More parameters! More degrees of freedom!)

jon

PS: T, are you putting Grains of Paradise into the oil you're doing up for Beth?

#36 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 10:29 PM:

Teresa: I can get a large quanitity of rosemary for you. It grows as a weed. The only trick is to ship it, and an overnight box (while not a half-bushel) might let you infuse a fair bit of oil.

It is plentiful enough that I use large quantities of fresh rosemary on the barbeque to make smoke to flavor roasting meats.

#37 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 10:48 PM:

My first wife, in utter innocence, bought some Scotch Bonnet (Jamaican for 'habanero') peppers at a market in Kingston, Jamaica, thinking they were sweet peppers. She cut one up and ate it with cheese and a cracker.

She then put her mouth directly to the tap and tried womanfully to drink Kingston's entire water supply. When I got home I told her to try rum, in which the oils were soluble (and that did help a bit). She was aggrieved when I wouldn't kiss her for two days (since kissing her cause my lips to blister).

#38 ::: James J Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 11:10 PM:

Teresa, "My mouth still thinks I'm a chile junkie; the dissenting vote comes from a different organ system." belongs on shirts, mugs and other paraphernalia. Truer words. . .

#39 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 11:25 PM:

I grew some Red Savina once (the Francisca is supposed to be able to get hotter, but it's the same guy who did Red Savina, and the morph isn't quite what wanted).

Anyhoo, they got big (they can be as big as softball, these were the size of ancho). I gave some to a friend (who loved the set I pickled for him in champagne vinegar, he ate them as I eat olives). He roasted them and said they were tasty, but not much spicier than a bell.

Red Savina is, so I've read, very prone to not coming up hot at all, but the test is in the eating.

I grow habs, and bonnets, because I think them lovely; and tasty when used sparingly. This means I will, when this year's crop ripens, have to play with some oil.

#40 ::: LeisureGuy ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 11:54 PM:

My sister loves jalapeños and will occasionaly pop a fresh one in her mouth to eat. She once tried that with an habañero. Once. I don't know what she did to try to cool it down--milk? cottage cheese?

#41 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 12:48 AM:

Teresa, that recipe sounds very much like Piri-piri, which my sister-in-law brought back from Portugal. It's very good.

The main difference between that recipe and yours is that Piri-piri is not heated and some of the oil is replace with whiskey.

Oh, and supposedly the best thing to cut the burning hot oil of hot peppers is dairy--milk, yogurt, that sort of thing.

#42 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 01:01 AM:

A good source for unusual/obscure varieties of chiles is Native Seeds, one of various organizations working to preserve genetic diversity and variety in seed stocks.

#43 ::: Greg Horn ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 01:52 AM:

Habaneros work great in salsa. My variation involves mango, oranges, and carrots. It has a nice heat that sneaks up without being overwhelming.

Maybe that's just me, as I use two habaneros, chopped and handled with bare hands. Sometimes a serrano or two will go in as well.

I am curious as to the severe reactions others have had in response to peppers from hell. I don't have any skin reactions other than stinging if it involves a nose or an eye, or burning lungs if I happen to cook with habaneros and the capsaicin goes up in smoke.

In the meantime, if you want to think of something painful, imagine this from the September issue of the journal Pain, "Migraine prevalence within ethnic populations is varied. Capsaicin injection to the forehead of healthy volunteers induces the state of an experimental trigeminal sensitization, which is one of the proposed mechanisms of migraine."

Ouch.

#44 ::: Diane Duane ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 02:29 AM:

Re touching chilies and dealing with the aftermath: When treating so-called "Hunan hand" in the emergency room, the treatment of choice is a weak bleach solution (approx. 1 tablespoon to a liter of water). Soak your hands in it briefly. The chlorine in the bleach breaks the capsaicin molecule and renders it non-hot. The pain stops immediately.

For those who get the stuff in their eyes (or for gentlemen, somewhere else they, uh, shouldn't have touched before soaking their hands in bleach...), the specific treatment is contact lens wetting solution. This also breaks the molecule.

Meanwhile, if anyone needs the Genuine Medically Approved Hiccup Cure, I've got that too. :)


#45 ::: Diane Duane ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 02:35 AM:

Oh, I forgot. Re garlic in olive oil: The remedy would seem to be parboiling/blanching the garlic for 5-10 minutes. The boiling seems to do the trick. I've never had one of those "runaway" reactions with my preparations...but then I tend not to keep them long, either. They get eaten.

#46 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 02:55 AM:

Sigh. One of the reasons I think I'm endorphin deficient is that I can't eat hot things. There's no flavor, no rush, just really unpleasant pain. And that's jalapenos. Indian food is a different story though: different spices and peppers.

My father liked Tobasco sauce so much I once gave him a gallon jar of it for Father's day. (Bought in New Orleans, sigh.) For some reason everyone seemed to find this hilarious.

MKK

#47 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 03:18 AM:

I hope this stuff doesn't count as "Weapons of Mass Destruction", but evacuating the apartment while the fumes clear, blistering skin, and other such stuff, sounds awfully close.

#48 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 03:27 AM:

Maybe that's just me, as I use two habaneros, chopped and handled with bare hands. Sometimes a serrano or two will go in as well.

I've got a couple of Asian dishes that I use habaneros in -- they're literally 20 cents apiece at the local farmer's market, so why not? -- and I too am a bare fister. Ditto jalapenos and serranos. Works just fine too as long as I remember to 1) scour the cutting board with detergent ASAP, 2) scrub the knife with detergent ASAP and 3) remember not to put my fingers in my eye. Yeah, that more than kinda sucked.

[I'm guessing these are fairly low Scoville though, probably in the 50k - 100k range, so I can get away with it. The truly thermonuclear ones I wouldn't even dare look out without wearing shades.]

I have a question about the recipe, though:

When the oil is satisfactorily flavored, dump everything out into a strainer. While it’s draining, wash and dry your jar.

Draining into what? I only see one vessel listed amongst the equipment. I assume one can simply use a second, surrogate jar?

Speaking of garlic oils and whatnot: I do a variation on Jamie Oliver's Focaccia with Rosemary and Olive Oil where I basically premake the garlic-and-rosemary olive oil (since I lack fresh rosemary and a proper mortar in which to bash the garlic). Mince up the garlic as fine as possible, break up the rosemary as small as reasonably possible, put both garlic and rosemary into small glass jar (I use a sterilized caper vial) and let sit in the fridge for about a day or two. Then simply pour out the oil as appropriate for the foccaccia, garlic and rosemary and all. If timed right, the rosemary softens just enough to get crisp when cooked (as opposed to toothpicky) and the garlic merely browns instead of carbonizing, resulting in a really lovely infusion throughout the bread.

Oh, and a "light scattering of sea salt" ain't nearly enough. I use a fistful of kosher salt (at least) to ensure that every bite gets at least a little saline piquancy. Without it, the foccaccia tends to be a little, well, dull and faux-cakelike; with it, it's an absolute delight.

#49 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 04:22 AM:

A Sicilian woman I met during a Junior Year Abroad program in Italy shared a wonderful anti-hot measure: bread and honey, which I am guessing provides a mechanical scrub off of the tongue and mouth-parts. Works a treat.

For rijsttafel, Indonesians serve seroendeng as a side-dish, a combination of lightly roasted flaked coconut, peanuts, sugar and a touch of trassi or ground dried shrimp paste. The dish works as another mechanical scrub complimenting the variety of hot dishes on the table. (Including "killer egg" from the Dutch Worldcon.)

Crazy(ooh, but brave enough to try the flavored oil thing? So-o-o-o-o tempted!)Soph

#50 ::: Fernmonkey ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 05:02 AM:

Works just fine too as long as I remember to 1) scour the cutting board with detergent ASAP, 2) scrub the knife with detergent ASAP and 3) remember not to put my fingers in my eye. Yeah, that more than kinda sucked.

That happened to me once, and like an idiot I stuck my head under the cold tap, which of course made it worse. I then realised that I was not going to be able to get my eye open in order to put buffered eyedrops in, because every muscle in my head was clenching in some way.

My husband heard the howling and I had to tell him "Jeff, I need you to pin my arms down by my sides, force open my left eyelid, and pour eyedrops in, because my body is not cooperating. Please, NOW!"

Here in Prague, Jeff and I have a fun game that I call Magyar Roulette. Czech farmers and market stallholders have a habit of mixing up batches of pointy pale-green bell peppers, so while taking peppers from the crate, you'll get a mild sweet pepper, and then a really hot Hungarian-style one - not as hot as a habanero, but definitely as hot as those little Thai peppers, and big. I am quite the chili-head, but I've lost a lot of Magyar Roulette lately and it's not that fun. Enormous chunks of raw hot pepper in a salad (nothing oily or starchy, so the capsaicin has nowhere to go but my tongue) just aren't all that pleasant, so now we cut a small sample to taste from every pepper before using it. The live ones are great in rogan josh or pörkölt.

#51 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 05:29 AM:

Tiny potent chili peppers grow wild in the backyards of Hawai'i. I think they're actually Tabasco peppers, imported either by Don Francisco de Paula Marin, a Spaniard who was King Kamehameha I's personal physician and a noted island horticulturalist, or by Mexican vaqueros brought in to teach Hawaiians how to wrangle cows. Folks use them to make chili pepper water, a water-based pepper sauce with vinegar, salt, and garlic. My mouth is watering now.

#52 ::: David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 06:00 AM:

Randy: I'm glad I'm not the only one who has made the mistake of cutting habaneros without gloves and then using the bathroom. Perhaps we should start a club. There must be more idiots like us out there.

Everyone, don't try this at home.

#53 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 06:05 AM:

My brother has worn hard contact lenses for many, many years, and treats them very casually. He has been known to pop one in his mouth to clean it.

Do not try that after eating chilis, or at least do not put it back in your eye afterwards. It takes some time just to get the affected eye to open so you can get the lens out.

#54 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 06:18 AM:

Um. I'm a supertaster, so I was wincing just *reading* this thread. The only way I'm ever coming in contact with this recipe is to point one of my chilehead friends at it, then take about two drops of the result and stir it into a litre of olive oil. Prior experience suggests that this is about the dilution rate needed to provide me with a similar experience to theirs rather than agonising pain.

On the other hand, the rosemary bushes are due for a haircut when I get home, and I now know how to make ginger-infused oil without it turning dubious. I'm glad I did read the thread. :-)

#55 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 06:46 AM:

TNH: No microwave, Josh? Do you have a double boiler? If not, how about a small saucepan and an overhead vent? If not, a small saucepan and an open window?

Alternately, this is the time to make your outdoor grill earn its keep.

For those who like to grow their own, Pepper Joe's has a nice selection of pepper seeds, from hot to volcanic.

#56 ::: elizabeth bear ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 07:28 AM:

Mm. Somebody mentioned Matouk's; it is indeed awfully nice, though incendiary. And can be used in place of red chili paste to improvise Thai hot and sour soup.

A very nice home-made hot sauce can be made by soaking ancho, habanero, bird, and black peppers in a combination of heated cider vinegar and a dash of balsamic vinegar, with some salt, rosemary, and as much fresh garlic as the trade will stand. This does not generally go bad if refrigerated, and yields some of the very nicest pickled garlic you'd ever care to thwart romantic advances with.

Yum.

#57 ::: Fernmonkey ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 07:41 AM:

On the subject of food that fizzes and bubbles: this year we made some salt-pickled kosher garlic dill gherkins.

They are really good (and the process seems so magical - lactic acid bacteria are great little beasts) but the very slight effervescence when I bit into the first fruits of our labours was a bit of a surprise.

#58 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 08:10 AM:

Actually, Teresa, I can think of a good reason to make lesser-heat pepper oil: the taste. Habaneros are good, yes, but they are distinctly different in taste from, say, serranos. (Or jalapeños, for that matter.)

Your recipe definitely sounds good, and I may have to try it. Cooking with infused oil would probably be lovely.

Also, I agree: goggles are a good idea, lest you inadvertantly wipe your hand against your face and send yourself to a hospital. I've gotten pepper juice (not, thankfully, habanero) in my eyes, and OW OW OW OW OW OW.

#59 ::: Steve Thorn ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 08:45 AM:

I love habanero season. I am one of the crazies that will just slice one up and dice it raw into whatever sounds good at the moment. That, and this year I planted some hybrid jalapeno plants named 'Mucho Nacho'. Very big, very good, slight burn.

#60 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 08:48 AM:

One time at a chili/salsa/margarita party I went to, one of the younger guys was chopping habañeros, and a fragment of one flew up and struck him in the eye. They rushed him to the ER. He kept the vision in the eye, thanks be to Aesklapios.

Um...I'm hesitant to even ask this, but...'chili', the pepper or dish, 'Chile', the country, 'chilly', the state of being someone uncomfortably cold, right? If so, the t-shirt proposed above needs a slight correction.

#61 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 11:07 AM:

Marie Sharpe's (Sharp's?) is another good habanero sauce from Belize. it's made with carrots, i think, and a really nice flavor - nothing at all like your typical all-vinegar Tabasco-style sauce. this is sweet and hot and yummy.

i made some corn relish last weekend, and threw in a couple of minced habaneros, as i usually do. but these particular peppers were far hotter than anything i'd come across before. on tasting, my wife determined that the two peppers were far too much for the two bags of frozen corn to dilute - it was too hot to eat, especially since one of the people eating it was a breat-feeding mom. so i ended up picking a lot of the little pepper bits out before i served it.

and then i dumped the pepper tops, all the extra pieces i'd picked out, and some onion, into the garbage disposal and ... whizzz... instant pepper spray. so, that sucked for a while. then a few hours later, i accidentally rubbed my eye... and then it burned for a bit and started to go numb, along with my eyelids and part of my cheek. my wife had to stand over me as i writhed on the bed to put saline drops in my eye to flush it out.

evil little critters...

#62 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 12:31 PM:

One of my former co-workers brough in some very small very hot peppers one time. I ate one, minus seeds. Twenty minutes later, after my mouth quit telling me about it....

We were able to get the message to my then-boss before she put half a dozen in her guacamole. I think that would have qualified it as an incendiary device.

I saved the seed form as many fo those peppers as I could get hold of. Very small plant (about 12 inches tall), and the largest fruits are a half-inch long: most have only two or three seeds. I call it "Greg's Killer Pepper".

#63 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 12:45 PM:

Actually, Teresa, I can think of a good reason to make lesser-heat pepper oil: the taste.

Seconded. To me, habaneros taste like the base for cheap Liquid Smoke knock-offs. The flavor overwhelms the heat.

#64 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 12:50 PM:

My mother once bought dried liniment peppers, mistaking them for chilies.

The resulting gallon batch of chili con carne was frozen solid and sawn into eighths, on the grounds that each eighth could flavour its own large batch, and all would be well.

The unfortunate result was stuff still much, much too hot to eat.

I don't think this is why I'm a complete spice wimp, but it might have contributed.

#65 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 01:40 PM:

Meanwhile, if anyone needs the Genuine Medically Approved Hiccup Cure, I've got that too.

Yes, please!

#66 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 01:54 PM:

my employer sponsored a little lunch-time Fear Factor-esque contest a few years ago. one of the stages was a habanero-eating contest. two of the contestants ate two whole habaneros... the other contestant was afraid to try even one.

#67 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 02:12 PM:

P J Evans: I saved the seed form as many fo those peppers as I could get hold of. Very small plant (about 12 inches tall), and the largest fruits are a half-inch long: most have only two or three seeds. I call it "Greg's Killer Pepper".

P J, did the plants come true from seed? I'm curious to know if the hottest peppers are hybrids or open pollinated.

#68 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 02:23 PM:

P J, did the plants come true from seed? I'm curious to know if the hottest peppers are hybrids or open pollinated.

These are open pollinated - the ones I've picked so far smell hot, but I haven't tasted them. I'm growing them for the seeds, mostly; I think one or two fruits would be sufficient for a gallon of chili. (One thing about the small size: they dry really fast.)

#69 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 02:26 PM:

Once I ate guacamole into which a small piece of jalapeno had snuck. The guac was not particularly hot but biting into that piece of pepper made half of my mouth go numb (even though I spat it out immediately). The Texan friends I was visiting had a big ole laugh about that.

Is heat tolerance a genetic thing, or can it be acquired?

#70 ::: Sumana ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 02:27 PM:

Speaking of hot sauce, Decision Procedure For Hot Sauce Quality. Includes:

2. Is the second ingredient some kind of vegetable matter?


"Why do you have this rule?", you might ask. "What non-member of the vegetable kingdom could possibly be the second ingredient of a hot sauce? Venison? Drywall? The set of all natural numbers?". No, I refer to that scourge of this decision procedure: vinegar. If the second ingredient of your hot sauce is vinegar, this means you have what we in the business call "a vinegar-based hot sauce", which is no good. Most hot sauces I've seen are vinegar-based, for some reason I cannot comprehend, so you need to be careful about this.


Now, some of you may like vinegar-based hot sauces, and at this point you are probably seething with vinegary rage. "You'll get my vinegar-based hot sauce when you pry it from my cold dead hands!", you might be saying. Well, THAT'S JUST FINE, because NOBODY WANTS your lousy vinegar-based hot sauce, and if we did we could just BUY SOME FROM THE STORE, so stop being so touchy.


It is okay for vinegar to show up later in the ingredient list. All hot sauces I've seen contain some vinegar. If you like incredibly hot sauces there might be no hope for you but to go with a vinegar-based sauce.

#71 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 02:38 PM:

Diane Duane, you're a benefactor of humankind. Is there a preferred way to break the capsaicin molecule if you're female and your sweetie has, like Greg Horn, handled extremely hot peppers with his or her bare hands?

#72 ::: elizabeth bear ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 03:24 PM:

There are Puerto-Rican style hot sauces (like the one I make) that are, in fact, vinegar infused with chile peppers. They taste nothing like tabasco.

PJ, those sound like bird peppers, which I think are very similar to piquin peppers, and which you can get through Penzey's. Itty bitty cone shaped red suckers?

Mmm.

Yes, use sparingly. *g*

#73 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 03:30 PM:

They're not as big as the chiles pequines that I've see - the largest of the killers are about the same as the smallest pequines. The plant is much smaller; it should be a good potted plant. (Peter Piper picked a peck of potted peppers, and regretted it later, as they were chiles?)

Yes, very small, red, conical. Pepper Joe's has something similar, from the description.

#74 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 03:44 PM:

Would the enzymes from a good meat tenderizer work to break down the capsaicin molecules?

#75 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 04:04 PM:

PJ, those sound very like the peppers here in Hawaii which Eric Sadoyama described - tiny, conical, bright red when ripe, growing on small plants a foot or two high. I've heard them called Devil Tongues, also called Bird Peppers. I've also heard them called Thai Peppers, and I know there are in fact some tiny very hot Thai peppers; I gather local Thais and Vietnamese think the local peppers are OK substitutes for what they're used to. I have no idea if any of these names are correct.

BTW, birds can eat "bird peppers" and other extremely hot varieties unscathed because they don't have a nerve receptor for capsaicin.

I just noticed the Safeway here has orange habaneros; dunno how hot they are. Hmmm....

#76 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 04:18 PM:

That would make sense - Greg's wife is Vietnamese.

I've heard of bird peppers, but have never seen birds eating them. There is a story that wolves/coyotes don't eat people who eat lots of chiles, because the people are then hot, in the non-radioactive sense, and the canids don't enjoy the flavor. I have no idea if this is true.

#77 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 05:23 PM:

"I have no idea if this is true."

I think a wolf or coyote would have to be pretty desperate and pretty hungry to overcome its native fear of humans enough to venture a nibble, but if my plans to become an Evil Genius every come to fruition*, I'll find out for you.

Note to Self: Develop regimen for feeding chilis to captured secret agents.

* The price of island lairs is prohibitive these days. I hope to hell its a bubble market.

#78 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 06:28 PM:

Everytime I revisit this thread, I'm reminded of the scene at the end of Project A, Part II in which Jackie Chan stuffs two fistfuls of hot peppers in his mouth, chews them and spits them onto his hands, turning his fists into chemical weapons.

The outtakes at the end of the movie showed that he had, in fact, chewed real hot peppers.

#79 ::: Dianne O'Mara ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 06:55 PM:

Long time lurker, but devoted reader here.

Teresa, are you sure you won't consider a cookbook of some sorts? I live alone (sadly), and don't really cook much, but everytime I read this page it makes me want to whip up fabulous dinner parties based only on recipes gleaned from your site.

You can call it, simply, "Making Food."

#80 ::: Randy Paul ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 09:21 PM:

David,

It wasn't habaneros, it was one malagueta that I merely ate and left some stray juice on my fingertips.

Aiyy Yi Yi!

#81 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 09:49 PM:

Is heat tolerance a genetic thing, or can it be acquired?

I have read that chiliheads burn out their tastebuds, so they need more and more heat because it's all they can taste. Unclear whether this was accurate or someone who hated heat.

Would the enzymes from a good meat tenderizer work to break down the capsaicin molecules?

All of the capsaicins in Wikipedia have the same HN-C=O bond as in protein chains, so it's possible tenderizers would affect them. However, tenderizers work by hydrolisis; I wouldn't expect them to be as effective on something that dissolves in oil and not water. I also have no idea how nasty the breakdown products would be.

#82 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 09:54 PM:

Teresa, I don't know if it's the best method, but a bathtub full of tepid, soapy water served to relieve the agony one Philcon when my sweetie had consumed habaneros (in chocolate) at a Hot Foods Party.

Important safety note: Toothpaste does not remove 100% of the capsaicin from the mouth of one who has recently consumed habaneros.

#83 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 10:04 PM:

Another vote here for the Medically Approved Hiccup Cure....

#84 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 12:52 AM:

Jon Singer, you've got the nose and no mistake. I adore you. You can take a list like "olive oil, habanero chiles, rosemary, orange zest, coarse black pepper, garlic, ground coriander, and powdered cocoa, plus maybe a microfraction of cinnamon and an infinitesimon of allspice" -- which you have to admit is a damned artful selection -- and see that the missing ingredient is grains of paradise. I'd been working my way toward that spot in food-cyberspace, but you teleported.

(I got a little giddy and added some Scharfenberger Nibs. The oil's smelling good.)

I console myself with the reflection that I woofed you when I made that Summer 2000 liqueur by using both rose geranium leaves and Stanwell Perpetual petals. You remember that mix: vodka, basil, rose geranium, lemon verbena, Stan the Perp, citrus peel, peppercorns of several colors, coriander, honey, quince jelly (mine), a tweedle of salt, and enough simple syrup to bring it right. It got real good. It's nearly gone now: two fingers of Old Overholt, a dash of Summer 2000, and some fresh mint. Serve over ice.

Was that rumored-hotter-than-Savinas pepper the Naga Jolokia? I've heard about its rumored 855K Scoville rating -- achieved once, by one lab, and much disputed since.

Cmikk, how can a habanero chile plant come up with aphids? A habanero chile mooshed in water with a little dash of detergent to make it stick to the leaves is what you use to get rid of aphids.

Chip, I'm fairly amazed by the story of the guy who put a pepperoni in his shorts to go dancing. I can't imagine getting romantic about a guy whose tallywhacker leaves grease stains. Did he come up with spice burns?

Risa, if chipotles are too hot for you, don't mess with habaneros, foil, and ovens. Get a bottle of good hot sauce and serve that to your friends when they come over.

PFiche, if you told me the story of your mother and the consecrated olive oil, I don't remember it, and should think I would. This raises all sorts of possibilities. Say someone's cooking in the kitchen who doesn't know it's consecrated, and uses it to make mayonnaise, and then after that there's an accident or serious illness, and nobody brought straight olive oil with them. Could you anoint the prayed-over sufferer with the mayonnaise? Let's say that's okay. So, then, could you do it if you'd put a packet of Ranch Dressing Mix into the mayonnaise? Would you have to throw the rest of the salad dressing out after you used it for the anointing? Would it make a difference in the spiritual status of the salad dressing if the person who made it knew the oil was consecrated?

I know how this line of questioning ends. Same way it always does: I get told I'm having too much fun.

Terry Karney, let me know when you're ready to prune your prostrate rosemary, and I'll be standing at this end with a catcher's mitt. Claire Eddy will think you're wonderful.

Harry, I'll confirm that dairy products are a good way to counteract pepper burns. High butterfat content helps.

This piri-piri stuff sounds interesting. What do you do with it?

Greg Horn, I'll accept that you can handle habaneros with your bare skin. I can do the same with poison ivy. Normal people shouldn't try to do either.

Crazysoph, I can believe bread and honey works. Plain bread's middling good for that all by itself, and honey has all sorts of interesting properties.

Xopher, I can only speak for usage as I learned it. Chile is a country. A chile, or several chiles, are little hot fruits in the tomato-potato-eggplant family. They're also called peppers. If you call them peppers, you use English syntax: jalapeño peppers, habanero peppers, etc. If you call them them chiles, you may if you wish use Spanish syntax: chiles habaneros, chiles anchos, etc. Chile colorado and chile verde are entrees, and I wish I had some right now. Chili, esp. chili con carne, is a meat-and-bean stew invented by gringos. Chili peppers, chilis, etc., is what you call chiles if you're a Norteño and/or don't know any better. Chilly is the diminutive of cold. Chilli is how you spell chile/chili if you hail from the current or former possessions of the British Empire.

P J Evans, what color were these peppers? Sounds like they might be bird peppers. If so, they're in the 100K - 225k Scoville range, mighty and dreadful.

Mary Dell, chile tolerance can be learned, but some learn a lot faster than others, and some never do get the hang of it. You'll have noticed that some of the people in this conversation have a natural tolerance. I believe that's partly hereditary. Jim Macdonald can happily scarf down
my hottest habanero oil, but his sweet maidenly younger daughter, who looks like an illustration off an old-fashioned chocolate box, can put away peppers that would make a dragon breathe fire.

Sumana, I make vinegar-based hot sauces, and that's still funny.

Dianne O'Mara, I've occasionally thought about gathering up all my recipes, but I'd have to go back and find them. I've been posting recipes online for ... what, a decade and a half now? They're all over the place.

Rikibeth, that hurts just to think about.

#85 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 01:00 AM:

"Greg's Killer Pepper" sounds like it's probably one of the "ornamental" peppers usually sold for growing as a colorful decorative plant.

But a lot of those plants -are- edible. You just have to be able to tolerate extremely -- EXTREMELY -- hot peppers.

#86 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 01:11 AM:

I repeat it often as a cautionary tale.

A former housemate had the warning repeated back to her, by a third party, and was able to tell the cautioner that she knew the original victim.

So at least I got some amusement from it.

#87 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 01:19 AM:

Greg Horn - my oldest son, Kit, is eligible for this study, Capsaicin to Control Pain Following Third Molar Extraction.

This study will test the effectiveness of the drug capsaicin in controlling pain after third molar (wisdom tooth) extraction. Capsaicin, the ingredient in chili peppers that makes them "hot," belongs to a class of drugs called vanilloids, which have been found to temporarily inactivate pain-sensing nerves. If capsaicin alleviates pain in dental surgery, it may have potential for use in many types of surgery and painful illnesses.

He went in for the initial eval and was supposed to have the extraction done but we had trouble finding someone who could give him a ride home after surgery. If he ends up getting this done I'll let you know how it works if you are interested. I think it's fascinating but kind of scary. It seems like a "fight fire with fire" theory of pain relief to me.

#88 ::: soni ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 02:01 AM:

Apparently capsaicin is strong enough stuff that it can actually ressurect dead nerves in the nose and return the sense of smell to people who had permanently lost it.

http://www.sinusbuster.com/smell.html

#89 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 08:10 AM:

Wow, this is cool stuff! Soon as I saw the initial post I said "I know where I'm going to get those!" Tuesday is Farmer's Market day in Hoboken...I went and bought two quarts of them. They are a startling Day-Glo orange color.

There was this woman there with her little girl (about 3, I thought). The little girl was exploring, handling the "salsa kit" peppers, the bell peppers...working her way down to the habañeros. I said "excuse me..." and the mother went O my God you're right.

Diane Duane: that's great information, thank you. I think I'll make a bucket of that bleach solution and have it ready before I take the hobbies out of the freezer. Wouldn't hurt to set out the big bottle of contact lens solution (which I have anyway) in the bathroom.

Teresa: what about lemon peel? It seems more like orange than lime, but I'm not sure. And you are the queen of all citrus peel knowledge, to put it mildly. Should I put in some lemon peel? What about tangerine (ooo, or even clementines!)?

#90 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 10:00 AM:

Teresa,

I have a collection of links that lead to recipies from the Making Light blog, including some in the Open threads. I was planning on printing them out for reference, once the threads were closed.

I wouldn't mind doing some of the googling for you and looking around other websites, etc., if you did decide to compile a book.

Please let me know if you want my collection of links.
(The email address looks anonymous, but I do check it weekly.)

#91 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 11:51 AM:

Regarding hiccups:

Take one teaspoon of sugar and put it on your tongue. Close your mouth firmly. Do not open your mouth again until the sugar has _completely_ dissolved. Your hiccups will be gone.

I suspect that this works because be keeping your mouth so firmly shut you are breaking the rhythm of the hiccups. However, I have been assured that the sugar has some chemical properties that make it more effective than just keeping your mouth shut.

#92 ::: Diane Duane ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 12:25 PM:

Teresa - I'd say the best way to go is to irrigate the affected area with contact lens wetting solution. Should do the trick.

And afterwards whack the other party around a little with wet noodles or whatever more emphatic tool/s you prefer to make sure they _don't do it again._ (Sheesh.) (Grin.)

#93 ::: antukin ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 01:00 PM:

I've tried making a lemon and lime sorbet with chopped up bits of a big chile pepper (you let the chile, lemon rind, and lime rind simmer in the mixture to get a good infusion before cooling it and putting into the ice cream churner). it's very refreshing, with a little kick.

another interesting dish we do is to remove the seeds from the big chiles (I really wish I knew exactly what they're called), put a strip of cheese in, cover it with dumpling or wanton wrapper, then fry. makes for tasty little appetizers.

ooh ooh yes please, I second (or third) the request for a recipe book! though since I live on the opposite end of the world, sometimes the ingredients teresa uses are barely even recognizable to me...

p.s. what's the difference between cilantro and coriander? around here we call it wansoy but I don't know which one that is... wansoy... yum...

#94 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 01:04 PM:

How does one ship rosemary? It stays fresh with no care at all for days after it's picked. And around here, rosemary is one of the chief "maintenance-free" landscaping plants -- except it easily outgrows the spot you set it in. I'm thinking it would be a kindness to all involved to ship bushels of it to people who live in those cold and unforgiving places where rosemary does not thrive.

My own rosemary is almost thirty years old, but what's doing it in is that the plum tree has overshadowed it completely. I need to plant a new one in a spot that nothing will overgrow (hmm, next to the ceanothus and the lavender, yes)

#95 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 01:08 PM:

what's the difference between cilantro and coriander?

Usually the leaves are called cilantro and the seeds are called coriander, but it's the same plant.

A lot of people don't like the flavor of cilantro. (It's a fairly common ingredient in salsa; the local burrito place asks if you like it before filling the tortilla.)

#96 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 01:19 PM:

Capsaicin as pain-killer:
I still have a tube of a topical ointment for arthritis pain called Zostrix, active ingredient 0.075% capsaicin. It provides a very mild "burn" sensation on normal skin; I tried it on my knuckles for a while when my arthritis was new and very bad. Of course you have to be very careful handling it, to get it only on the desired area and then cover it (I was taping my knuckles in those days) so you don't end up getting it in your eyes or other sensitive parts.

It did reduce the pain to some extent, but not very well. Would stronger doses work better as a topical? I'm not sure. It may work on the "scratching an itch" principle - small nerve sensations over a broader area will drown out or partially mask intense pain sensations concentrated in one point. All to do with how our brains are wired up.

#97 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 01:33 PM:

A friend of mine - in Massachusetts - has a large rosemary growing in a pot. It has outgrown several pots by now, in fact. She keeps it on the porch and brings it inside in the summer.

So colder climates are not necessarily detrimental to rosemary, although I would love to live in a place where it grows like a weed.

#98 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 01:33 PM:

Oops, I meant winter, not summer.

#99 ::: jon singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 01:48 PM:

Hi hi.

I am abashed. G of P just seemed ...well, _right_. You know.

[I haven't been able to read through the entire comment stack in detail, so the following may replicate something that someone else has suggested; if so, please accept my apologies.]

It occurs to me that Tecnu [tm], which cuts through the oily resin of poison ivy, might be just the thing for removing chile oleoresins as well, and/or for protecting one's hands under the gloves or if one cannot find gloves. I have not tried this, so it remains merely a conjecture for the moment. (Let us not get into "just a theory" here -- I am too angry about people who think that common speech is the same thing as scientific terminology, and who want to dumb us all down to that level, to be coherent on the subject.) I actually have some Tecnu, and the local groceries have Habaneros, so I may just make a test. If I do, I'll report results here.

Cheers --
jon

#100 ::: jon singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 01:50 PM:

Oh, I forgot — yes, Naga Jolokia. Would like to see either confirmation (and seeds for sale) or denial, but there doesn't seem to be any firm word one way or the other.

Sigh...
jon

#101 ::: Diane Duane ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 02:11 PM:

Re the hiccup cure:

(I could have sworn I wrote this down somewhere else online, but can I find it now? Nooooo. Oh well, never mind.)

...Backstory:

Hiccups are the result of a blood serum electrolyte balance. The causes are various: talking too much while eating (my favorite), eating or drinking too fast, etc etc, whatever. Different causes tend to induce different kinds of imbalance. The imbalances are these:

(a) Respiratory acidosis -- too much CO2 in the blood.

(b) Respiratory alkalosis -- too little CO2 in the blood.

When you get one or the other of these, the body's tendency is to try to rectify the situation by pushing the lungs' contents in and out a lot faster, so that if there isn't enough CO2, some more can get into the bloodstream, and if there's too much, some can get out. Now, the body doesn't want to bother your conscious mind about this, so it does it in a simple, inelegant, and not wildly effective way: it makes your diaphragm spasm, compressing the lungs and shoving most of their tidal volume out with each spasm. This is the hiccup.

Now, you'd think that concentrating on breathing deeply and regularly, and ventilating yourself in a thoughtful manner, would put this problem right. Well, probably it will: but it takes forever, and you're sitting there hiccuping and feeling like a fool (and the continuing hiccups can themselves make the electrolyte situation worse). So it becomes time to take drastic measures.

It turns out that the smartest and fastest way to derail the hiccups themselves is to quickly *increase* the imbalance significantly. The intervention derived from this concept deals with (first) the most common one, the acidosis, and then, if that doesn't work, the less common one, the alkalosis. The fortunate thing is that all the raw materials are usually present in the average bar or restaurant, so you can cure yourself or a friend fast in one of the places where you're most likely to look like an idiot as you just sit there hiccuping and hiccuping.

(Part 1:) Juli got this one right. Take a large spoonful of sugar, dry, in the mouth, and let it dissolve. Some of the sugar gets absorbed directly through the buccal membrane of the mouth. The acidosis is kicked way further along, and your body, distracted by the sudden extreme change in the blood chemistry, "calls off" the hiccups as ineffective. It calls them off right away, too: within seconds. The "spoonful of sugar" approach, in my experience, works for about 60% of hiccuppers.

If this doesn't work, the hiccuper has a worse case of acidosis than mere sugar can deal with. So we take the intervention up a notch.

(Part 2:) Take one small spoonful of salt (the equivalent of a cooking teaspoon is plenty). Again, hold in the mouth and let it dissolve. It's gross, but in the next 20% of hiccupers, the hiccups will stop. Bang, right away.

If neither of these steps work, then your hiccuper is not in acidosis, but in alkalosis. So you switch tactics.

(Part 3:) Give the hiccuper a lemon slice and tell them to chew on it. Their hiccups will then vanish.

It is important to do these things *in order* and not try to cut back on the amounts of sugar and salt, or the intervention may fail and you'll wind up having to do it all over again, which is annoying, especially if you're on a low-sodium diet or just don't feel like retaining liters and liters of water the next day. But if you follow these instructions faithfully, the hiccups should vanish, pretty much without fail. You can get a real reputation as a miracle worker with this.

A side issue, henceforth possibly to be called Duane's Law of Embarrassment Anxiety: When you are running this routine on someone whose hiccups you *absolutely have to stop* because you'll fall very low in their estimation if you don't, they will *always* be alkalotic, and you will always have to run through all the stages, feeling dumber and more desperate every moment as you go along. (This law first became plain to me when I was de-hiccuping my "Science Challenge" producer at the BBC: if I hadn't proven I was good at the science part by curing him, well, you can imagine.)

And an afterthought: All other even slightly useful hiccup cures service this mechanism in one way or another, by quickly and emphatically changing the blood electrolyte balance. Scaring the person (causes acidosis: see _The Andromeda Strain_), drinking water upside down (forces the person to hold his/her breath, slowly increases the CO2 in the blood), breathing in a paper bag (rebreathing, ditto), whatever: they are all thin pale versions of the One True Cure, trying with greater or lesser effectiveness to shove the blood electrolytes around.

Now go all ye and spread the word, that there may be fewer hiccups in the world.

#102 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 02:17 PM:

Arghhhh!

I blame you folks for encouraging my hot-sauce eating habit, and also for somehow making me sensitive to peppers.

Here this thread had made me look forward to the quesadillas I was preparing, but then I bit into one and the Tapatio (another pepper/vinegar type hot sauce, Mexican in origin) made my eyes water copiously and swell shut. After much hand washing, nose blowing, and cold wet washcloths pressed to my eyes, I was able to toss the affected quesadilla pieces and Tapatio into an garbage bag, tie it immediately and was forced to use Trader Joe's Creamy Cilantro dressing as a wet-thing substitute (having run out of their lovely habanero lime salsa last week.)

I don't understand - I have been using Tapatio on all tortilla-related meals since I moved out here and have never had a reaction like that. I blame the power of suggestion.

And I still want to make and eat every single chili recipe in this thread.

#103 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 02:40 PM:

Diane Duane: when I get the hiccups, I sit still and concentrate on hiccuping. In about 60% of cases I hiccup zero or one times more and then stop. If someone is talking to me it doesn't work. If it doesn't, I simply remember m/y/ /f/a/v/o/r/i/t/e/ /t/h/i/n/g/s/ one of my more horrific visions, which I guess is the "scare" cure. What do you suppose is happening with my "try to hiccup" cure?

Also, I can't really eat sugar. Can I go directly to the salt?

Come to think of it, since I drastically reduced my carb intake, I don't think I've had the hiccups at all. That's since January 2004. A connection to the acidosis issue? Like maybe it stabilized my blood acid, as well as my blood sugar?

#104 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 02:42 PM:

Tapatio has stuff in it besides peppers that you might be reacting to, including various poreservatives. Don't lose hope until you've tried different sorts of chile preparations that have different ingredients.

#105 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 02:50 PM:

WRT Scovill numbers and chiles:
The Australian Chile Test

"Greg's Killer Peppers" look like Pepper Joe's Wild Dynamo Peppers: small, pointy, red, and relatively innocent. Until you bite into one.

I've met the ornamental varieties, and I wouldn't recommend using them unless you like eating incendiary devices. They certainly are pretty, though. (My favorite for looks is probably the multi-colored one -"Riot", is it?)

#106 ::: Greg Horn ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 02:52 PM:

Teresa, thanks for reminding me about hot peppers and significant others. A girl I once knew would use that as a way to torture her boyfriend when he pissed her off. A deliciously evil tactic.

Georgiana, I noticed other studies on the subject of using capsaicin to alleviate pain. There might be something to it if it garners so much attention. If your son does it I'd be interested to know how it works out.

#107 ::: Diane Duane ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 02:55 PM:

Xopher -- My first guess would be to bet that while you're concentrating hard on something, your respiration drops somewhat -- and that boosts the acidosis.

Another possibility, a little more airy-fairy, is that it works because you *know* it works. (I used to have a T-shirt that said, "Never underestimate the power of a placebo.") :)

Re ditching the sugar: You could try it, but the routine may then fail. Try the salt first and see what results you get.

There might possibly be a carb/acidosis connection, but I'm not sure what it would be. If you lost weight in association with going off the carbs, though, that can routinely affect the way your blood chemistry works in the long term: usually for the better, if you don't get too fanatical about the carb avoidance. Your body *is* built to handle and manage them, suggesting that, to a certain extent, it needs them.

#108 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 03:29 PM:

PJ: I am one of those people who likes neither, and I think that is because for a lot of us who don't like them, cilantro and coriander taste like soap. Ivory soap, to be specific. I was really surprised when I found out that cilantro is not supposed to taste like that, and then upset that my funny tastebuds are ruining a lot of Mexican food for me.

Not that it currently matters; Finland is very short on Mexican food.

Diane Duane: Thank you! I love finding out about the science behind little things like this, and while I knew that the sugar cure worked for me, it bothered me that I didn't know why. I have passed the link to your comment on to friends, as I know that at least a couple of them are chronic hiccup sufferers.

#109 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 03:43 PM:

I am one of the oddities who likes coriander seed, but loathes cilantro leaf. And the leaf doesn't taste like soap to me. Nor does it taste metallic. It smells as if a tomcat has sprayed over the food. It smells strongly enough that I find it unpleasant just being at the same table with someone who's eating a dish made with cilantro leaf. It's always good fun going to Vietnamese restaurants in my company...

#110 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 03:51 PM:

Teresa, the Piri Piri in my kitchen came bottled from a store in Lisboa. My in-laws have decided that I'm cooking guy, and every gift they give me is something for the kitchen. It could be worse.

I have a recipe for it, though, in my first-ever cookbook, given to me by my mother. It was written by this guy, who's a story all on his own. He suggests using as a dipping sauce for otherwise mild roast chicken, or as an ingredient in an interesting bread soup. (The soup is interesting because it has a good bit of garlic and a quarter pound of shrimp in it, and after it's put into a bowl, you crack a raw egg on top and stir it in just before serving.)

#111 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 03:57 PM:

It was written by this guy, who's a story all on his own.

Try his version of brownies: put a 4-ounce (for mild) or 7-ounce (for medium) can of diced green chiles (aka "Ortega") in your brownies. It's surprisingly good: there really isn't much chile flavor involved, but it has just enough heat to make it interesting. I wouldn't advise using habaneros, though.

#112 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 06:34 PM:

Diane Duane - I did lose a bunch of weight, and according to my test strips each morning, I continue to maintain a fat-burning metabolism ("lipolysis" in the Atkins book).

I try not to let it get too extreme, but I probably eat about 1/10th as much carbohydrate as my diabetic friend Judy (who's on oral meds and has been told to eat 180 grams of carbs per meal, a number that would have me pathetically weeping in a corner for no reason at all two hours later).

#113 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 06:37 PM:

Arg. I just realized I froze the hobbies without washing them first. Any way out of this dilemma? Can I just take them out, rinse them hard, let them dry, and put them back in?

#114 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 06:44 PM:

In our house we have harnessed the power of the placebo. When my kids were actually children and would have small discomforts not worth truly medicating but still bothersome, I'd give them a spoonful of grape juice concentrate and a convincing explanation of what a placebo is and a guess as to why it works, ending up "and you will make yourself feel better." I can do it to myself, too. I swear it was placebo power that kept my blood pressure low for more than twenty years after I had been diagnosed with hypertension.

#115 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 07:08 PM:

Diane: Wow. Just wow. Thank you - your post is a Good Thing in a world that can always use more of them.

#116 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 07:11 PM:

TNH: Did he come up with spice burns?

According to the story, that's the way he was ... exposed; this happened in the 1970's, and the report was that he was doing some amazing moves on the disco floor. As for grease stains being unromantic -- if he'd realized the grease would melt out he might have wrapped the pepperoni before stuffing himself.

PJEvans: I suppose that would be mild enough to work, and chocolate/chile combinations have a long tradition -- but when I read about dosing brownies my first thought was the Eliot Moss Memorial Brownie Award "for technical sabotage with the best of intentions". He was propmaster for a college production of Company, got fed up with the plate of brownies being depleted before they went on stage, and made a batch with onion and garlic extracts in place of the water, plus a handful of salt; he was memorialized because he told everybody \but/ the actor who had to wolf one on stage.... (The pepperoni story could be an urban myth. This one was confirmed.)

#117 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 07:42 PM:

If you need the topical pain relief of capsaicin but don't want the hassle of dealing with a cream, I love (love love love) the Salonpas-Hot patches. Marvelous things. I get recurrent lower back pain, and the patches work better to relieve it than anything else I've tried. Well, the Vicodin worked pretty well too, but the capsaicin patches are ever so much easier to obtain. Fewer side effects, too.

#118 ::: Barry Ragin ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 07:53 PM:

I like the little Christopher Ranch jars, because they seem to stay the freshest out of the cloves I don't peel myself.

At my local Kroger's, the Christoper Ranch products all have little shelf labels abbreviating the brand name to "cranch."

I usually take my habs, snip off the stem, and put them in a pint mason jar, loosely packed, about 12 - 15 habs. Cover with vinegar (white or cider, no wine), add a few garlic cloves, and let it sit for about 6 months to a year. Then, i dump the whole mess in a blender with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar and 3 or 4 carrots. Set on liquify for 2-3 minutes. Pour into old vinegar bottles and make sure you've got a shaker cap for when you use it.

I've got labels with a fire breathing dragon saying "F*ck yeah, that's hot!" Makes Dave's Insanity taste like a dessert topping (or a floor wax).

#119 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 09:20 PM:

Diane, I have chronically low serum CO2, enough that sometimes the doctor makes me take bicarb as a regular med. I don't think I hiccup more than most people.

We joke that it's the low serum CO2 that also keeps mosquitoes from biting me (or gnats, or other similar critters).

Teresa, I haven't been in woods in 20 years now, but all of my family was immune to poison ivy. When we transferred from the West Coast to the Pentagon and then to Virginia Beach, we bought a house with an old wild cherry tree in the backyard. The tree was covered with a climbing vine, which Mother thought was Virginia Creeper. So we trimmed it, the way you would with a vine.

When people started coming to visit, a couple of them said it was poison ivy, which was hard to believe since it didn't do anything to us. We had the VA Tech extension agent come out and look and he wouldn't go past the patio. He said it was the largest domesticated patch of poison ivy he'd ever seen.

So we had to cut it down and kill the roots (the tree, too) and then wrap it many times and leave it on the curb for public works staff to pick up while wearing hazmat suits.

#120 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 09:48 PM:

and made a batch with onion and garlic extracts in place of the water, plus a handful of salt; he was memorialized because he told everybody \but/ the actor who had to wolf one on stage....

Did the actor make it offstage before he *ahem* got rid of the brownie? And did the baker thereof also survive?

Between this thread and the "Divas & Lazerus" thread, I've pretty well pulled every laugh muscle I have.

#121 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 09:54 PM:

Hmmm. I just buy peeled garlic in little plastic bags from the local Asian market. Less than $1, and when I start to get concerned about them, I just throw them in the freezer. Once frozen, I'll only use them for cooked applications. I think they go through the garlic press more easily when frozen.

I just can't bring myself to cough up the $$$ for branded peeled garlic.

#122 ::: Anonymous Frosch ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 11:20 PM:

If the laws ever change or you don't care, Other Materials can be substituted for habaneros, and help avoid lung damage. Just be advised that though the peppers can lead to pain and possible blindness, getting caught with Other Materials can lead to problems ranging from losing your car and house all the way to up to gang rape.

So wash up well, use disposable materials and gloves before you handle anything involved, and remember that Someone Else's Dumpster is Your Friend.

#123 ::: jon singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 12:24 AM:

http://www.jossresearch.org/special/tecnu.html

Ahem.

Cheers --
jon

#124 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 12:46 AM:

Many thanks for the mention of the heatless habaneros ("habeñeros"?), since I respect and can enjoy their heat, but really prefer the non-heat flavour components (as opposed to jalapeños, which I consider mild but negative-tasty).

I like Thai peppers, and similar but slightly larger versions one can occasionally find. One way of trapping their taste and heat is to chop them up and submerge them, seeds and all, in fish sauce---good Thai restaurants have this as part of their condiment sets. These same restaurants generally have shakers of roasted red pepper flakes that are scarily good.

#125 ::: jon singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 01:00 AM:

Hi, Michael.

No “ñ”; “habanero” is correct — it means a person or thing from Habana (which we usually spell “Havana”). Long story; wild relatives of Capsicum chinense were apparently found in Cuba in 1986. (I’m not sure anybody really knows why the specific epithet is “chinense”.)

Note also: “haba”, not “habe”.

I don’t like jalapeños either, and they give me a bad gut, so I avoid them.

When you say that fish sauce will trap the taste and the heat, do you mean “moderate”, or “bring out”?

Best —
jon

#126 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 01:10 AM:

Isn't "spice burns" from Comidas Criollas of Dune?

#127 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 10:28 AM:

jon:

Many thanks; I knew of the Havana connexion, but don't know enough Spanish to know the rules for declining (in effect) the place-name (I can just about handle Sabado Gigante).

I meant "trapping" in the sense of retaining the flavour. Of course, it's diluted a bit, but the chili bits are still fairly sharp after a week.

Tangent: I've been getting interesting spam from Chinese foodstuff exporters, including the following:


3)Spices: All kindls of Chinese Chillis such as Yunnan chilli ,Yido Chilli,Tiestin Chilli, Bullet Chilli ,
Chilli Power, Chilli Crush and so on.

#128 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 10:44 PM:

New York types who've read this far will be interested to learn of something I found in this month's Saveur magazine (aka your monthly dose of quality food porn): there's going to be a Chile Pepper Fiesta on October 2 at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

#129 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 11:57 PM:

OK, I tested the hiccup cure.

The salt worked, thank you (just as well, I'm at work and don't have any lemons).

#130 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2005, 08:21 PM:

I finally dug this recipe out to post here, with appropriate credit. I've never gotten around to trying it. Or never got the nerve, perhaps.

From: kludge@*****.com (Scott Dorsey)
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: Nuclear Ice Cream
Date: 28 Jul 2001 15:44:59 -0400

- Four large ripe red habanero peppers
- One quart heavy cream
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar

Take two peppers, place in blender and chop finely. Add two cups heavy cream, and mix in blender at low speed for a minute or so. Cream will be somewhat puffed up with air at this point but by no means whipped.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and do the same with the rest of the cream and peppers. Then mix it with the first batch.

Add the sugar, and stir in well. Don't put the sugar into the mixture in the blender, but mix by hand. Leave this mixture at room temperature for one hour to allow the pepper oils to properly go into solution.

Freeze in standard ice cream freezer until stiff, then transfer to deep freezer for final hardening.

The final ice cream is light and airy and will have a pale pink cast to it. It has a fine, sweet pepper taste and a strong afterbite.
--scott

#131 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2005, 02:07 PM:

Xopher: "What about lemon peel? It seems more like orange than lime, but I'm not sure. And you are the queen of all citrus peel knowledge, to put it mildly. Should I put in some lemon peel? What about tangerine (ooo, or even clementines!)?"

Lime might be an interesting experiment someday, but it's not the first citrus I'd go with. Lemons, tangerines, and clementines would all be fine. I'd have cheerfully replaced some of the orange peel I used in this latest batch with tangerine peel, if they'd been in season and more readily available.

I limited my citrus input to oranges (and hypothetical tangerines) in this batch of oil because I was going for a very specific effect. Unless I get my hands on some grains of paradise, it looks like the final ingredients list is going to be olive oil, habaneros, finely zested-off orange peel (eight large oranges, because Beth asked for the orangey version), some freshly ground black pepper, quite a lot of ground coriander, very scant pinches of allspice and mace, several tablespoonsful of a strong rosemary/everclear infusion I made a while back (real rosemary would have been as good or better), the seeds-and-stems left over from processing this summer's basil, half a cup or more of Droste cocoa powder, and a handful of Scharffen Berger Nibs. (Note: S-B Nibs are plain chopped roasted cocoa bean bits. They're yummy and crunchy and the very soul of chocolate, just the thing for a low-carb snack. We got ours at the Whole Foods on Union Square.)

The (probably) finished oil smells like a cello sounds. It's not the hottest habanero oil I've ever made, which is okay, because it's still hot enough to remit sins and kill fleas. The burn comes on slowly and smoothly, a little crescendo of fake pain that never crosses the line into real pain, then slowly tapers off again. It's nice.

Nancy C., you've been keeping track of my recipes? You angel, you. That's more than I've ever managed to do. I'd be delighted to have your list, as well as any other information you can provide. Thank you!

Antukin, your chile-infused lemon/lime sorbet sounds very attractive. (Well, I would think so.) I once had a citrus sorbet that had been infused with fresh lemon thyme: an elegant effect.

I've been unable to track down the dark chocolate/ancho chile ice cream recipe Mitch Wagner once posted to the GEnie SFRT. I think he got it from the LA Times, c. 1990. I tried it, and was impressed. Ancho chiles have a notorious affinity for chocolate -- they turn up in all kinds of dessert recipes -- but this was exceptional.

Basically, it was a French custard-style ice cream, rich and smooth but not too sweet, with a near-saturation level of dark chocolate: da dayenu! But it also called for you to rehydrate and chop up some nice dried ancho chiles into little bits, and put them into the half-and-half before scalding it. (Again, notice the use of fats or oils to extract flavor from chiles.) The result was fabulous: a mouthful of dark-chocolate ice cream flavor, with small polite chile burn kicking in at the end.

"[A]nother interesting dish we do is to remove the seeds from the big chiles (I really wish I knew exactly what they're called), put a strip of cheese in, cover it with dumpling or wanton wrapper, then fry. makes for tasty little appetizers."

These are, like, mini-eggroll chiles rellenos? I'll just bet they're tasty.

"[S]ince I live on the opposite end of the world, sometimes the ingredients Teresa uses are barely even recognizable to me..."

Sorry about that. The old rasff glyph for "I'm lost, please give me a footnote" is [*]; you may have seen Ken MacLeod use it recently in another thread. You'll probably get an explanation. You may get six or seven.

Lucy Kemnitzer: "My own rosemary is almost thirty years old, but what's doing it in is that the plum tree has overshadowed it completely. I need to plant a new one in a spot that nothing will overgrow (hmm, next to the ceanothus and the lavender, yes)..."

And doesn't that just say worlds about where you live.

If I were going to mail rosemary, I'd do it on a Monday or Tuesday. I'd casually stuff it into one of those sturdy flattish cardboard mailing boxes you can get for free at FedEx, and send it via FedEx's cheap surface rate. It would arrive a couple of days later. I wouldn't wrap it up in a plastic bag; breathing's better. Rosemary doesn't dry out quickly -- that's what all those aromatic gummy resins are for in the first place -- but wrapped in airless plastic it'll rot like lettuce. That's nasty; changes the flavor. And if your package is lost in the mail and arrives a week late, semi-dry rosemary is still usable.

Jon Singer: "I am abashed. G of P just seemed ...well, _right_. You know."

I do indeed know. Weird question: if you have a set of specs for "unidentified desired thing," do you have a greater-than-average ability to spot inobvious answers that meet the specs?

"It occurs to me that Tecnu [tm], which cuts through the oily resin of poison ivy, might be just the thing for removing chile oleoresins as well, and/or for protecting one's hands under the gloves or if one cannot find gloves. I have not tried this, so it remains merely a conjecture for the moment. (Let us not get into "just a theory" here -- I am too angry about people who think that common speech is the same thing as scientific terminology, and who want to dumb us all down to that level, to be coherent on the subject.) I actually have some Tecnu, and the local groceries have Habaneros, so I may just make a test. If I do, I'll report results here."

Your report on your experiment was posted in Particles shortly after you mentioned it here. Special thanks to Damien Warman, who dropped me a note about it.

"Oh, I forgot — yes, Naga Jolokia. Would like to see either confirmation (and seeds for sale) or denial, but there doesn't seem to be any firm word one way or the other."

If you click on P J Evans' link to the Australian Chile Test, they have a description of their test methods (they used a high performance liquid chromatograph) and a table of their results. Very interesting! They were looking not just at overall hotness, but its components: capsaicin, dihydrocapsaicin, and nordihydrocapsaicin (also homocapsaicin and homodihydrocapsaicin). His overall score for the naga jolokia was below all the habaneros, though it's notably high in dihydrocapsaicin.

I didn't know about all those different capsaicins, but my working theory has been that there are different components to hotness, and that different chiles had different concentrations of one or the other component. By far the hottest pepper mixture I've ever worked with was put together at the end of one growing season, when a pepper seller at the Union Square farmer's market was offering a "put your own mixture together" deal on all his many varieties of hot peppers. (Looked like he'd planted every kind he could get his hands on, that year.) I went for maximally diverse and wicked. The resulting jar of peppers was so ferocious that I had to pour off the liquid and re-bottle them. While doing so, I momentarily forgot not to touch them, and briefly tamped down the well-drained peppers with my bare knuckles. I got a burn out of it that smarted for days.

Diane Duane: Your advice on getting rid of pepper residue and curing hiccups is truly useful. Would it be all right with you if I re-posted those comments to the front page of my weblog? A lot more people would see them there.

Nerdycellist: "Here this thread had made me look forward to the quesadillas I was preparing, but then I bit into one and the Tapatio (another pepper/vinegar type hot sauce, Mexican in origin) made my eyes water copiously and swell shut. ...

I don't understand - I have been using Tapatio on all tortilla-related meals since I moved out here and have never had a reaction like that. I blame the power of suggestion."

I'm not sure it's suggestion. Every once in a while I'll get a day where hot chiles hit me like a ton of bricks. I've never been able to correlate it with any particular outside events or circumstances; I just briefly lose my tolerance.

P J Evans: Thank you for the Australian Chile Test. Good stuff.

"I've met the ornamental varieties, and I wouldn't recommend using them unless you like eating incendiary devices. They certainly are pretty, though. (My favorite for looks is probably the multi-colored one -"Riot", is it?)"

Let me confirm that. Those little things are vicious. I dried and pulverized some, and mixed a pinch of it into my handy and constantly-used jar of "I am on fire, feel like I'm fixing to die" pepper mix. It was thereafter almost unusable -- "perceptible quantity" and "so hot you have to throw away the food" were too close to being the same amount.

Harry Connolly: Okay, now I definitely have to try this Piri Piri stuff.

Xopher: "Arg. I just realized I froze the hobbies without washing them first. Any way out of this dilemma? Can I just take them out, rinse them hard, let them dry, and put them back in?"

Yes. Just don't let them defrost all the way.

Barry Ragin: "I usually take my habs, snip off the stem, and put them in a pint mason jar, loosely packed, about 12 - 15 habs. Cover with vinegar (white or cider, no wine), add a few garlic cloves, and let it sit for about 6 months to a year. Then, i dump the whole mess in a blender with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar and 3 or 4 carrots. Set on liquify for 2-3 minutes. Pour into old vinegar bottles and make sure you've got a shaker cap for when you use it.

I've got labels with a fire breathing dragon saying "F*ck yeah, that's hot!" Makes Dave's Insanity taste like a dessert topping (or a floor wax)."

Right. I'll just bet it does. Seeds and stem caps and all? And does it cast off sediment?

Marilee, I love your story about the largest domesticated patch of poison ivy on record: Addams Family gardening. Shame about the cherry tree, but it was the right thing to do. Claire Eddy once got a case of poison ivy in January in Manhattan. Only thing they could figure out was that her Christmas tree had once had poison ivy growing on it, and she'd gotten trace amounts of urushiol on her skin while she was taking the tree down.

Clifton, that's a wicked ice cream recipe. If I ever go back to eating dairy, I've got to try that one.

Anonymous Frosch: I thought everyone knew ... no, I guess they don't now ... that THC is oil-soluble. Funny; I picked up the principles of making flavored cooking oils by reading recipes for cannabis butter, way back in the 1970s. Not that I ever made any; marijuana and I have never gotten along well.

I still remember the basic procedure, though: one pound butter, one cup water, 1-2 cups finely ground dope. Put it all into a crockpot on its lowest setting, and let it cook all day or overnight, stirring occasionally and adding a bit more water as needed. (The water's there to help control the temperature. High heat destroys THC.) Strain through a double layer of cheesecloth, then gather up the edges of the cheesecloth and start twisting so as to squeeze additional butter out of the cooked dope. If you want, you can move the cheesecloth bundle to a different bowl and pour boiling water through it to extract even more butter. Put the water and butter mixture into the fridge, then skim off the hardened butter when it cools.

Very important point: As with any other organic substance, the potency will vary from batch to batch. Test for strength before using it on other people.

Brownies and cookies are traditional, but it should work in any recipe that uses butter, from white sauce to Rice Krispies Marshmallow Treats. And if I may make a purely hypothetical observation? Adding other flavoring materials to the mixture in the crock pot shouldn't have much of an effect on the THC content, but it would certainly obscure the purpose of the product.

#132 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2005, 04:30 PM:

Claire Eddy once got a case of poison ivy in January in Manhattan. Only thing they could figure out was that her Christmas tree had once had poison ivy growing on it, and she'd gotten trace amounts of urushiol on her skin while she was taking the tree down.

My mother got poison oak once by petting a kitten that had walked through the stuff. I think this makes it transmissible in a technical sense - how can you avoid something you don't know is there? (My mother, unfortunately, is fairly sensitive, and it made her miserable for quite some time. As far as anyone could tell, the kitten was not affected.)


#133 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2005, 08:12 PM:

http://www.fiery-foods.com/dave/chilechoc.asp
has a white chocolate-ancho ice cream recipe from Suzy Dayton (among other chocolate-chile recipes).

I've also found a recipe for ancho-chocolate sauce, calling for 4 or 5 squares of semi-sweet chocolate, a tablespoon of ground ancho, and a teaspoon of ground chile de arbol. (Melt chocolate, add chiles, stir until smooth.)

#134 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2005, 01:40 AM:

There sure is a lot to keep up with around here.

Teresa, you live in one of the cities in this country where a person ought to be able to find a bottle of Piri Piri somewhere, but that might be a bother. Here's a summary of the recipe:

Fill a quart canning jar one-third full with dried tiny red asian peppers. Add a half cup of whiskey. (Nothing more specific is suggested--I have no idea what sort of whiskey the Portuguese drink. Google and I have failed each other yet again.) Fill the jar with half olive and half veggie oil.

Screw on the cap and let it sit for a month, shaking it every week or so to help it cure.

That's it.

#135 ::: Barry Ragin ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2005, 11:03 AM:

Teresa - after a year in the vinegar, i don't want to touch those things, even with rubber gloves!

Actually, i did try to remove seeds and membranes the first time i made the sauce, and the peppers had lost enough of their physical integrity to make it near impossible.

i just got back from a week out of town, and the pepper bushes are dotted with bright orange bonnets, so i should be able to get a pretty good batch started for next year. Whe i bottle next summer, i'll try to remember to send you some.

My grilled pineapple salsa won a blue ribbon this summer - i add about half a teaspoonful of the habanero sauce to a gallon of salsa for a nice kick. A little more for my friends, a little less for the judges.

#136 ::: antukin ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2005, 01:00 PM:

Oh I love that, "mini-eggroll chiles rellenos"!* And we were just calling them Cheesestick Surprise. Hahaha. Generally only people who like spicy food devour it (as with the chili-lemon sorbet) while everyone else stays far far away. The chile cheesesticks seem like they'd do well in a beer drinking session, though we haven't tried this yet.

Actually what I meant by "barely recognizable ingredients" is that not only am I unfamiliar with some of the ingredients, but often they're not available here at all. Take the lovely-sounding Sharp sauce, for instance. Just from reading the recipe I can tell that I would love the taste of that. But I've never heard of shallots, though I see from Wikipedia that they actually come from Asia. Hmm. And citric acid comes in dry form? As does Italian salad dressing? Amazing!

However, having said all that, I'm sure there are good enough substitutes for the hard-to-find ingredients. And failing that, I could make do without some of them. So I will patiently hope for that recipe book, or even a peek into Nancy C's magical collection of links ;)

And many thanks to P J Evans for the links to the choco-chile recipes!


* I'm sorry, this is so off-topic, but is the exclamation point in that sentence supposed to come before or after the quotation mark? And are the rules the same for question marks? I'm sure somebody (or many somebodies, rather) in this forum can answer this question, or at least point me towards several schools of thought about it. I'd be grateful for any help :)

#137 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2005, 01:09 PM:

Antukin: assuming that you don't know these:

shallots: a kind of onion, but mild. Pearl or boiling onions are an effective substitute, although not the same.

powdered citric acid: 'Fruit Fresh' is one form, used in canning and preserving. Also try a science-supply company.

dry Italian salad dressing: available here usually as 'Good Seasons'. It's the herbs and spices; you supply the oil and vinegar. With a good recipe you can roll your own.

====
Quotation marks - I put them before the punctuation if the quoted material isn't the entire sentence. It seems to make more sense that way.

#138 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2005, 02:13 PM:

Another possibility for shipping bulk rosemary -- earlier this year USPS added two sizes of box to its Flat Rate Priority Mail system. Not that cheap, but on the other hand it includes a nice sturdy box in the price.

http://www.usps.com/shipping/flatrate.htm

• The Priority Mail Flat Rate Box is $7.70 for any U.S. destination.
• The inside dimensions for the two boxes available are 11" x 8.5" x 5.5" and 13.625" x 11.875" x 3.375".

(I am peeved that these only came along after I'd stopped shipping zines around the place. But they might be useful for the next time I want to ship a manuscript...)

#139 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2005, 02:36 PM:

So, we have instructions for shipping rosemary. Do we have requests, and will we have addresses?

#140 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2005, 08:29 PM:

Antukin: here's what a shallot looks like. This picture gives no idea of scale though; most shallots are an inch to an inch and a half long. Uh, 25-37 cm.

MKK

#141 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2005, 11:30 PM:

Mary Kay: I think you mean 25-37 mm, as 30cm is approx one foot. I don't want to deal with a shallot that big.

#142 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 12:25 AM:

Mary Kay: That's not what we call a shallot in my part of the world. The one's you've linked to look like onions to me. What we call shallots look more like this.

#143 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 12:44 AM:

"We brought the scallions back to the ship. That's when Padrig went near mad. He said, 'The leeks, man! Duw prid, think of the leeks, will you?'
"Dr. Musgrave gave him a shot of something -- Lagavulin, I think -- and then we sat down to think. It was three months till the launch window, and the biggest grater aboard was, what, six inches long. The Engineer said he'd try to rig up a mandoline, but how much time would that buy us?
"Finally the Doc, very quietly, said, 'There's something we haven't thought of.'
I asked her what.
"Mushrooms, Captain. Mushrooms from the id."

-- from Planet of the Aromatics by "Cecil Beeton" (apparently a pseudonym)

"Redbook magazine's attempt at a science fiction serial remains inexplicable in all dimensions of the word. Even copies of the magazines seem to have vanished from the Earth, though now and then one is spoken of at a fan gathering, in tones of mingled disbelief and awe. After all, these days anybody can see a flying saucer."
-- William Atheling III, Issues Out of Hand, the Lost Papers (Mirage)

#144 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 12:47 AM:

Jonathan: what's your part of the world? Mary Kay's shallots are like my shallots, and they are distinct from onions in several ways (botanically, they are closer to garlic, if I recall correctly). One of them being that they grow in clusters. They also have concentric layers like onions, but they come all clustered and wrapped together in outer layes of papery skin like garlic.

The picture you showed looks like a specialty green onion we get at the farmer's market in early summer.

#145 ::: Rick Montgomery ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 01:59 AM:

Any cure for hiccups that you really believe will work, will work to an extent. Including just believing.

I learned when I was in high school (thirtysome years ago) to will my hiccups to stop. I simply tell myself to stop, and that's that. I hic once, and decide not to continue, and the hiccups stop.

Except the ones I get from eating hot food. They're very inconsistent: sometimes I can eat really fiery stuff with no problem, and other times even mildly hot things will set me off. But I can't seem to will them away; they last (very loudly) for 2 or 3 minutes and then they go away.

Maybe I just need to work on believeing I can control them!

#146 ::: antukin ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 03:02 AM:

Ooohh, it seems that we do have shallots! I just wasn't familiar with the local name for it, which is sibuyas tagalog or tanduyong. Hmm, that's your idea of a mild onion?

Hey I'm inching closer towards sharp sauce! All I need is that dry Italian dressing recipe.

Thank you to all the kind and lovely helpful people =)

#147 ::: Mrs. Robinson ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 05:02 AM:

I spent most of July in Mexico, where (among other things) I took a lot of cooking classes.

Turns out that every cook in Mexico knows that the way you turn down the heat of any pepper is to soak it in salt water. Cut the pepper into half (or strips), drop it in a cup of room-temp water with a tablespoon of salt, stir, and wait. The longer you wait (the range is anywhere from 5-10 minutes to a couple hours) the more capsaicin is neutralized -- without destroying the actual flavor of the chile.

This is probably how Trader Joe's knocks down the heat of its habanero salsa, which someone mentioned above. It's also why artificial tears help cool an overheated eye: they're basically a saline solution.

Capcaisin may not like water, but it seems to behave reasonably in the presence of very salty water. If anyone with a chemistry background has guesses about why this is so, I'd be interested in hearing them.

#148 ::: Eimear Ní Mhéalóid ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 05:35 AM:

When we were children, my father used to cure our hiccups by promising to give us 10p per hiccup thereafter. Inevitably they would disappear despite our fervent wishes for them to continue.

#149 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 08:56 AM:

antukin:: Chiles rellenos (peppers stuffed with cheese-or-what-have-you, battered, and fried) are typically made with poblanos in Mexico and the US, though some folks go in for anaheims. The poblanos are fatter, darker-colored, and hotter. They're also thicker-fleshed, which makes it easier to stuff them without tearing.

From your size description I'd be inclined to guess you use poblanos. Though if they fit in a wonton wrapper they'd have to be on the small side. The poblanos I use for rellenos (which tend to be largish) usually average 12cm long and 9cm wide near the top. Anaheims by contrast are more like 13cm long and 3-4 cm wide.

Poblanos are almost always medium-to-dark green, but late in the season my pusher^H^H^H^H^H^H favorite local pepper grower sells some red ones at the farmer's market. They're the same pepper; the red ones were just allowed to ripen. Since they're sweet (though still hot), using red poblanos for rellenos means that different fillings work well. I use either a really mild cheese (queso fresco or ricotta salata, for example), and serve it as a dessert; or a really sour/salty one like feta, and serve it as a main course. Yum.

I currently have several big bags full of roasted poblanos sitting in the freezer. If I pace myself right I'll get to have rellenos (or calabazas horneadas, or...) a few times a month all winter long.

I'll have to try the lemon/lime/chile sorbet this winter.

Renatus, Julia Jones:: The cilantro/coriander response is apparently genetic--if you have the relevant gene(s), it tastes very unpleasant. I'm guessing that there's more than one gene involved, given the range in perceived flavors, and the range in which senses are relevant, but I haven't seen any studies identifying the markers.

There is a similar phenomenon with epazote, which apparently tastes/smells like kerosene to the relevant sub-population. I don't have either of those genes, but my wife is somewhat sensitive to cilantro--it tastes soapy, but she can eat it without actually being ill. And if it's used as a garnish, she can just avoid it without its ruining the rest of the dish.

Teresa:: If you find that ancho/dark chocolate ice cream recipe somewhere, please post it. I've been wanting to invent one for some time, but have never gotten around to it.

And I'll definitely second (fifth? seventh?) the vote for Making Light Food, or whatever it would be titled.

Oh, and do you think I could substitute red poblanos for the anchos in the ice cream? I can't think of any reason why drying would make a difference for this purpose.

On the not having gotten around to inventing my own recipe, part of that is my freezer: I've got a 6-quart hand-crank, and while it makes great ice cream, the volume and the time investment both discourage really aggressive experimentation. The fresh ginger ice cream (and the ginger/peach variant) I came up with was lovely, though.

P J Evans:: I got probably my worst-ever case of poison oak about 20 years ago after playing on the floor with my then-toddler nephew. Partway through, his dog came in from playing outside, and in the exuberant doggy-greetings I got the tail across my face several times. Apparently the dog had found a patch of poison oak: my face looked like the full moon for the next week, and both eyes swelled completely shut.

#150 ::: Jennifer ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 09:27 AM:

Re: hiccup cure:

I just take a spoonful of cider vinegar. Sounds like, from what Diane said, that it cuts right to the chase. But you want to swallow it carefully!

Re: salt water and capsaician:

Hi, I'm Jennifer, and I'm a chemist. *grin* Looking at the molecular structure and information on Wikipedia, it looks like the aromatic (ring) end of the molecule is what binds into the receptor. So I would *guess* that the chlorine from the NaCl reacts with either the alcohol or the ester on that end. This would change the size, shape, and properties of the aromatic structure and make it not bind to the receptor. Therefore it wouldn't cause pain. This would probably also be why bleach works to cut the pain down, as well.


#151 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 10:18 AM:

The best hiccup cure I've ever had worked on me was the question, "Have you ever seen a gray horse?"

#152 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 11:18 AM:

Stephen: I have mostly had chiles rellenos made with anaheims or pasillas. To my mind, anaheims, pasillas, anchos, and poblanos, while not identical, are interchangeable (pasillas being my favorite, ossibly because they're more complex than anaheims and the second most available of the mild picante peppers). And I think that "ancho" is a rubber name that extends to poblanos and pasillas sometimes. At least that's what it looks like in the Mexican markets hereabouts.

I like the mild picante peppers better than the truly hot ones. There's more flavor there for me, and I'm not a heroic consumer. I actually prefer peppers milder than jalapenos, which are the ubiquitous peppers here, and when I'm using jalapenos I like to use the pickled ones with the carrots.

(I haven't had poison oak yet, despite living around it most all my life and being a showoff as a child, carting the stuff around to tease the neighbors. But I'm careful now)

#153 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 01:36 PM:

When we were children, my father used to cure our hiccups by promising to give us 10p per hiccup thereafter. Inevitably they would disappear despite our fervent wishes for them to continue.

This is my "magical" cure, but with a much cleverer motivating factor! Your father sounds like he was a pretty smart guy.

#154 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 02:03 PM:

Er yes, I meant mm not cm in my earlier post. I had thought I posted immediately after saying so -- as I realized I meant mm immediately after I hit the post button on the first one. Apparently I didn't hit the post button on the second.

There is a lot of confusion around scallions and shallots. Properly, scallions are also called green or spring onions. They're just the very early stage of your basic onion with the greenery still attached. Shallots are different -- they look like little elongated onions, complete with papery, dry outer skin which scallions or green onions lack. I don't know why there's this confusion, but they aren't the same thing at all.

MKK

#155 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 05:32 PM:

Lucy Kemnitzer:: The usage I've seeen most often is that ancho is the name of the dried ripe (red) poblano. But it occasionally gets extended to the fresh green chile as well. Poblanos are also sometimes called pasillas in the US, but all the references I have seen suggest that that is just an error (probably the result of confusion with the name pasilla roja, which is used for the dried ancho in parts of Michoacan). In various parts of Mexico poblanos are also called chile para rellenar (stuffing peppers), chile gordo (fat peppers), and jaral.

A typical fresh poblano is something like 12 cm long and 7 cm wide at the shoulder, and medium-to-dark green. The flesh is thick but the skin is fairly thin.

Diana Kennedy says in The Essential Cuisines of Mexico (ISBN 0-609-60355-8) that pasillas are a dried version of the chilaca, but the description of the chilaca matches the fresh "pasillas" I've found in the US. (I've never seen a fresh pepper in the US identified as a chilaca.) As noted above, the pasilla roja of Michoacan is the dried form of an entirely different pepper.

A typical chilaca is long (18 cm), narrow (2 cm), and twisted, with thin skin and thin dark-green-to-black flesh.

Anaheim, New Mexico, California, Magdalena, and chile verde del norte are all the same pepper. They are long (16 cm) and fairly narrow (4 cm), with thick skin and thinnish light-to-medium-green flesh.

So accepting the US names, anchos, pasillas, and poblanos may all in fact be the same pepper, though Anaheims are certainly different.

This is actually a nice example of the problems of using folk names as unique identifiers, since (1) there are usually several folk names for the same thing, and (2) the same folk name will be used for several things at once. So the English robin (Erithacus rubecula) and the American robin (Turdus migratorius) are unrelated, as are the African panther (the melanistic color phase of the leopard, Panthera pardus) and the US panther (Felis concolor). The American "panther" is also known as the cougar, the mountain lion, the painter, the American lion, the sneak-cat, and a round dozen other names. It gets very confusing. And pedantic. No, wait, that's me.

#156 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 05:38 PM:

There's a really confusing discussion of scallions-spring onions-green onions-bunching onions-I forget what. Some of them are immature dry onions, adn some of them are something else, and the everyday nomenclature does what the chile nomenclature does.

#157 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 01:04 PM:

The Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries website has a page in the Horticulture and fresh produce section on Growing shallots. Their pictures aren't the best, but here is a paraphrase of what they say about the shallot/spring onion situation in Oz.

In common language shallots today generally refers to the green leaves and stems of non-bulbing onions which are selected varieties of common onions (Allium cepa var. cepa). They are grown for their whole tops, the leaves of which are round and hollow, and are eaten as a green vegetable. Ideally these are greater than 25 cm (10 inches) long and 8-10 mm (between a quarter & half an inch) thick at the stem. A combination of high density planting and genetics means they don't tend to produce bulbs like the common onion.
The true shallot (Allium cepa var. aggregatum) is grown primarily for its bulb although the green tops may also be consumed. Its bulb is compound, like garlic, consisting of several cloves which are ideally about 30-40 mm (~1 - 1.5 inches) in diameter with brown skins and a purplish tinge inside the bulb. True shallots are used in place of onions as they have a delicate yet distinctive flavour that persists after cooking.
There's a bunch more about actually growing them, diseases, etc. I prefer this picture of the spring onions
Re scallions, green onions, bunching ditto; I have no idea whatsoever. But I love slicing the shallot leaves into little green rings to scatter into broths or stir fries. A lot of people discard the white section, but it's a great mild onion taste that doesn't overpower delicate flavours.

#158 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 01:21 PM:

I don't know why I didn't think of this before:

The Plant Sorting Thing for the allium species explains that there's a lot of allium cepa out there, and among the varieties there's your shallots and my shallots: I mean they are different varieties of the same species. As are a number of other things some of which sound very exotic indeed.

The multilingual plant name sorter is just wonderful anyways.

#159 ::: brett ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 02:10 PM:

Just a note to anyone thinking of playing with *really* hot peppers for the first time... if you're going to be working with large volumes of peppers (cutting and cleaning), do not use latex based rubber gloves. The oils will degrade the latex and seep through into your pores and it is not very cool. A rookie mistake perhaps... but if I can deter one person from this unfortunate circumstance...

#160 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 02:55 PM:

Oh, and the plant name sorting thing reveals that poblanos and anchos are the same thing, belonging to the ancho group, but that pasillas are different and belong to their own group, both within the species capsicum annuum var. annuum.

It ought to be against the law to have words spelled with two ns and two us in sequence like that.

#161 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 03:42 PM:

Stephen Sample - I knew that the cilantro thing is genetic, but I'd be interested in what the genetics actually are. Last trip to see my parents involved me discovering the hard way that neither of my parents dislikes the stuff - my mother had just discovered the joys of the herb, and was most distressed to discover that I did not want to eat the lovely new sauce recipe she'd used for the roast lamb dinner.

Having googled to see what epazote actually is, it looks suspiciously like an item I view with horror when I see it in a salad. But I think that's more the "supertasters hate bitter" problem.

#162 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 04:20 PM:

Lucy: Sorry to be late in replying: I've just seen your question. My part of the world is Australia -- North Queensland by birth, Sydney for the last 40 years. Somewhere upstream Epacris gave a good source on what the words mean here. Talk about two peoples divided by a common language!

#163 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 07:01 PM:

TNH: I didn't know about all those different capsaicins, but my working theory has been that there are different components to hotness, and that different chiles had different concentrations of one or the other component.

I wonder whether anyone has analyzed the heat:flavor ratios of these capsaicins, and possibly even tried breeding for something that gives lots of flavor without raw flames? Or maybe they have and the results have been as dreadful as they were for hops. (A pet peeve: US hop breeders produced plants that assay at 4-6x as much bittering agents ("alpha acids") as traditional varieties, but IMO ruined the flavor by some combination of altering the balance among alpha acids, not similarly intensifying "beta acids", and planting in the Pacific Northwest; the result tastes to me like grapefruit rind, which is not a taste I appreciate in most beers.)

Hi, I'm Jennifer, and I'm a chemist. *grin* Looking at the molecular structure and information on Wikipedia, it looks like the aromatic (ring) end of the molecule is what binds into the receptor. So I would *guess* that the chlorine from the NaCl reacts with either the alcohol or the ester on that end.

I used to be a chemist; I'm wondering how you figure this. The reaction

xxxCCl + NaOH -> xxxCOH + NaCL

is one of those things they teach in first-year organic without telling you how difficult it is in practice. In lab that year I tentatively identified a substance I'd been given as 1,4-dichlorobutane and wanted to prove it by producing 1,4-butanediol (because the reagents offered would have produced a compound so complex it wasn't in the Rubber Bible); the one documentation I could find of this reaction required not only concentrated caustic but also several hours and several atmospheres of steam. The problem is that most organics aren't soluble in water (cf TNH's discussion of extracting capsaicins into oil) and salt isn't soluble in oils. Phase transfer catalysis should make the reaction go, but I wouldn't expect table salt to have useful quantities of quaternary ammonium compounds (and suspect it would be toxic if it did). The reverse reaction strikes me as even less likely, since it adds "not energetically favored" to the above difficulties.

#164 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 07:14 PM:

A possibly useful source for sorting out alliums is the Oxford / Penguin Companion to Food (Oxford is hb, Penguin is pb). It will tell you more than you probably want to know about almost everything edible. It doesn't have enough pictures.

I know scallions as green onions (the white part is definitely edible) and shallots as shallots, which usually show up in my supermarket in small containers.

#165 ::: Jennifer ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 07:29 PM:

I used to be a chemist; I'm wondering how you figure this. The reaction

xxxCCl + NaOH -> xxxCOH + NaCl

is one of those things they teach in first-year organic without telling you how difficult it is in practice. In lab that year I tentatively identified a substance I'd been given as 1,4-dichlorobutane and wanted to prove it by producing 1,4-butanediol (because the reagents offered would have produced a compound so complex it wasn't in the Rubber Bible); the one documentation I could find of this reaction required not only concentrated caustic but also several hours and several atmospheres of steam. The problem is that most organics aren't soluble in water (cf TNH's discussion of extracting capsaicins into oil) and salt isn't soluble in oils. Phase transfer catalysis should make the reaction go, but I wouldn't expect table salt to have useful quantities of quaternary ammonium compounds (and suspect it would be toxic if it did). The reverse reaction strikes me as even less likely, since it adds "not energetically favored" to the above difficulties.

Oh, goodness, O-chem is certainly not my specialty. But pulling out my Fessenden & Fessenden, I note on the chapter on preparing alcohols that nucleophilic substitution of an alkyl halide is very good for turning primary alkyl halides into alcohols but secondary and tertiary halides tend to give elimination products. That's probably what happened with your diol.

But, actually, I was thinking the other way around--either the alcohol reacted to give an alkyl chloride or else the ether (why did I call it an ester?) reacted. Both of which are possible, but require protonation. I don't know if a strong enough NaCl solution could overcome that or not. The only other mechanism that I see as being possible is for the NaCl to attack the amide bond, but I don't see how that would affect the end that binds to the receptor in the mouth.

#166 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 07:29 PM:

This is definitely nodding in, but is reducing the heat by soaking the peppers in salt water actually "neutralizing" the active agents in some chemical sense, or is it just sucking them out into the water (which presumably gets discarded) in the way that strong salt solutions generally do? The stated fact that "the longer you wait, the greater the effect" would seem to confirm this.

Plain water would not work, because it's not a question of simply dissolving them out, but pulling them out through the tissues. The Greeks have a word for that.

This is only a mildly educated guess. Having spent a few years really intimate with osmotic filtration, this may just me having a case of everything looking like a solute.

#167 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 09:41 PM:

If I ever open up one of those fancy sandwich shops where the sandwiches are all named after someone, one of the featured items will be processed canned pork product served with sliced onions, garlic and leeks.

I'm calling it the Thomas Tallis.

*ducks, runs*

#168 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 10:18 PM:

Dan, I'm an uncultured idiot. I don't get it.

#169 ::: Karl T. ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 10:38 PM:

Lucy, one of Mr Tallis's most famous compositions is a 40-part motet known as Spem in Alium (Latin for "hope in others.")

I suspect that Dan was making a Spam/Spem pun, with the addition of some sort of a pun on "alium" in the Latin name for the vegetables involved.

Many apologies if this explanation ruins the joke for anyone else.

Dan, the pun was good/bad enough to make me wince, if that's your preferred form of applause.

#170 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 11:08 PM:

Thomas Tallis choral pieces....

Last Saturday or Sunday (they run together during RenFest) They were discussing this on NPR. Tallis was encouraged to compete versus forms that were developed in France and Spain. He quite succeeded.

They played a portion of one of his works and OH MY GODDESS! I wished my drive or the clip would have lasted a LOT longer. it was wondrous to hear.

Then the precious part. I came into fest raving about the choral piece I'd just heard, with 40 separate parts, and my boss, the jeweler, could only think of something made of coral....

#171 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 11:12 PM:

Thanks, Karl T.. I knew that but didn't put it together.

But 'spem in alium' is actually Latin for "I have hoped in another," the next word being 'nunquam' ("never"). So even though the title by itself contradicts it, the first line is "I have never hoped in any other but thee, O Lord" or something like that.

#172 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 04:14 AM:

Actually, Xopher, no -- "spem" is (the accusative case of) the noun "hope", so the phrase does mean "hope in another". I suspect that the verb was some form of "have": i.e., "I have never had hope in any other...". Not knowing where the original comes from, though, I can't check.

#173 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 06:02 AM:

Spem in alium nunquam habui praeter in te, Deus Israel,
qui irasceris et propitius eris,
et omnia peccata hominum in tribulatione dimittis.
Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae
respice humilitatem nostram.

I have never put my hope in any other but in you, God of Israel,
who will be angry and yet become again gracious,
and who forgives all the sins of suffering man.
Lord God, creator of heaven and earth,
look upon our lowliness.

The Latin text is drawn from the biblical book of Judith (Judith 8.19 and 6.19), used in the pre-Reformation English (Sarum) liturgy of the 'Historia Judith'. Daniel Page has asserted that Queen Mary (Tudor) was linked by court iconographers to the biblical Judith. The story from the Book of Judith (in the Septuagint and Roman Catholic Old Testament, but apocryphal in Protestant Bibles), is that Judith (read: Mary), a pious and beautiful widow, defends her homeland from the Assyrian army by cutting off the head of its treacherous commander Holofernes (read: Northumberland). There are several well-known paintings of the story, which lends itself to drama & horror, and Donatello's sculpture in Florence.

At the time of Mary's coronation in 1553, this story would have been fresh in the minds of the people, as it was rehearsed as a part of a short "season" in the Sarum liturgical calendar called the Historia Judith, which fell on the days September 24–30, immediately preceding the coronation on October 1. She had beheaded Northumberland only weeks before, on August 22. The parallels to Judith could not have been plainer. -- A few pertinent sources, and Sheet music [PDF]

#174 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 06:32 AM:

David: Google says you're right about the verb. The whole phrase is "Spem in alium nunquam habui praeter in te, Deus Israel", which I take to mean, "I have had hope in no one other than you, God of Israel." I don't know why it doesn't read "Speravi in alium numquam praeter in te."

#175 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 07:39 AM:

Wincing's too good for me, I'm sure. Being pelted with onions is probably too good for me for that joke. (Which I suppose is a kind of standing ovation for punslinging, but anyway.)

"Spem in alium" may just be the most beautiful thing ever, needless to say. If it's any comfort, you can imagine me forced to atone for my sullying of it with an eternity of Spam 'n' Allium sandwiches in Hell.

#176 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 08:20 AM:

Oh good grief yes, anyone who has never heard Tallis's "Spem in alium" must do so immediately. And Ralph Vaughan Williams unearthly orchestral piece supposedly based on it, as well.

I'm not all that knowledgeable about classical music, but both of those are among my favorites.

#177 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 12:47 PM:

Well, I found it in midi, anyways, and I'm listening to it now while I look for a human performance. It's a nice midi, though. But the volume keeps varying a lot -- is it supposed to?

Have midis in general just gotten a lot better over the years? I have also found a page of bagpipe tunes in midi and they sound pretty good (though not like bagpipes).

#178 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 01:43 PM:

I wonder if the fluctuating volume on the midi is meant to indicate where the number of voices singing increases; "Spem in alium" does that a lot, to wondrous effect.

The album I have it on is here, where you can also listen to an excerpt of the real thing.

#179 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 02:05 PM:

I've got the Tallis Scholars version, but I'm looking for a different one. There's this one boy soprano who was Right Next to a mic, and when he's singing, the other lines get lost. Frustrating, to say the least. So, any suggestions for a historically-informed performance?

#180 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 02:27 PM:

TexAnne --

As far as I know, the Tallis Scholars have never used trebles -- all their soprano, mean and alto parts are women, like Sally Dunkley.

It's hard to record Spem in Alium and get the effect of actually hearing it, because the mikes are likely to be distributed in a way which does not match the loaction of your ears with regard to the ten sub-choirs.

#181 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 02:39 PM:

To nitpick my own nitpick, some of the alto parts are male countertenors, I believe.

#182 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 04:01 PM:

Jennifer -- I was wondering what would drive the alcohol->alkylhalide conversion, since IIRC the reverse reaction is favored thermodynamically. I suppose the forward reaction might be favored in strong acid, but there's still the problem of getting the oil to dissolve in the acid. (Note that 1,4-dichlorobutane \is/ a primary (just at both ends); the problem was not what was produced but getting the reagents to mix at all in the absence of an industrial pressure-cooker.)

Mike -- IIRC (again, it's been a \long/ time), if you put fresh water on one side of a semi-permeable membrane and a water solution on the other, there will be a net movement of water towards the solution because that reduces the difference between them (i.e., increases entropy) and because the solute can't go through the membrane. What other cases are there where salt water will actually extract another solute, instead of just sucking out the water?

James -- to nitpick your nitpick, the Tallis is for 8 five-part choirs (per memory, confirmed by Epacris's sheet-music link).

#183 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 04:18 PM:

Oh good grief yes, anyone who has never heard Tallis's "Spem in alium" must do so immediately. And Ralph Vaughan Williams unearthly orchestral piece supposedly based on it, as well.

Ole Ralph's piece is actually based on a theme from a different Tallis composition...it sounds like SIA, because RVW had a talent for harmony that rivaled the older master's.

I wondered about the Latin, too. But the point of my post wasn't so much the verb as the fact that the title means the opposite of what the first line actually says. I guess only sort of, but still. Misleading if you only hear those three words.

TexAnne, there will be lots of new recordings of Tallis this year. Why? Well, he was born in 1505...

#185 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 04:28 PM:

Oh, and I meant to mention...that has bits of both SIA and the RVW piece in it.

#186 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 06:38 PM:

Xopher, that's a very good thing to know. I'll call my favorite music seller as soon as Rita goes away. (His name is Joel and he owns Joel's Classical Shop on Bissonnet, in Houston. This shameless plug brought to you by a very happy customer.)

#187 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 07:27 PM:

CHip, you will recall that for three years I carried around a load of glucose solution, with the purpose of pulling dissolved toxic products out of my bloodstream. If it had just pulled the water, it would have made things worse. And the solution is available in several concentrations, the stronger ones pulling harder. (You will also recall the logistical problems with this system, but That's Not Important Right Now.

This may be a faulty analogy, but it was the first thing that came to mind.

TexAnne: the abrupt mental image brought on by "I'll go to Joel's Classical as soon as Rita goes away" was of a woman of a certain age, dressed in tie-dye, well-worn platform shoes, and funky round shades that have not kept up with her refraction, standing outside the place with a hand-lettered sign protesting If It Don't Rock It Ain't [Expletive] in a faux-naïf attempt to drive customers away. (Probably she used to be a meter maid.)

I don't suppose that's what most people were thinking, though.

#188 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2005, 01:07 AM:

Mike -- dialysis is certainly a counterexample to my claim, but I don't know all the mechanics of how it works; possibly the sugar solution simply let everything else cross over to equilibrium while giving net zero transport of sugars, and possibly it keeps the net transport of water near zero also. It's been too long since I even glanced at this, and I never studied in detail.

#189 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2005, 01:32 AM:

The patient loses water (if you have some remaining function, you do urinate, but far less than before the therapy, and the drain bag is visibly larger than the fill bag), and enough of the sugar moves the other way that if you're diabetic you have to compensate with insulin, but it's not as large a load as if you were actually consuming that much straight glucose. I probably have a technical document around here somewhere, but it was only an analogy.

#190 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2005, 10:07 AM:

w00t! I've occasioned one of Mike Ford's flights of fancy! Now all I need to do is make Teresa fall over, and my life will be complete.

James: as long as we're nitpicking, "male countertenor" is redundant. All countertenors are men by definition. You may be thinking of "male alto," which is a synonym of "countertenor."

#191 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2005, 01:47 PM:

Is there consensus on the best recording of "Spem in Alium"?

As an aside, I used to be able to get the BBC series "Best on Record." I loved it. They would play various recordings of classical pieces, highlight the differences (instrumentation, interpretation, etc.) and then recommend one. I bought a lot of classical CDs based on that.

#192 ::: Joe ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2005, 06:08 PM:

Hi,

all sounds so good. I want to try the hot pepper oil. Just wondering how long does it keep? And does it need to be refrigerated?

#193 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2005, 02:37 AM:

Just found a nice little blog entry on Butter Pig about smoking and drying Habaneros. With pictures!

#194 ::: ted ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 04:48 PM:

I have a crop ready to pick.. 4 bushes each containing about 100 fruits on each.. who said you can't grow hot chilis in Rhode Island.
you have to try this recipe: best I've had..

1 can pineapple chunks
1 habanero pepper, minced
4 fresh mint leaves, cut into chiffonade
1 cup corn oil
2 large corn tortillas, cut into wedges( I use Pita Bread)
1 cup sugar and cinnamon mixture

In a small saucepan, combine pineapple chunks, habanero pepper, and mint leaves. Simmer for 5 minutes. Cool thoroughly and remove mint.

In a large saute pan, bring 1 cup of corn oil to 325 degrees F. Add wedges of corn tortillas and cook until golden brown on each side, approximately 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Liberally dust warm corn wedges with sugar and cinnamon mixture.

Serve pineapple salsa over ice cream with the fried corn tortillas.

#195 ::: Chere ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 10:11 PM:

I have never responded to one of these before and have not had time to read allof the responses and I am just trying to figure out how to infuse olive oil with fresh peppers out of my garden and leaving them in the oil....I plan on giving them as christmas presents....So how do I do it..??

#196 ::: andralynn ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2005, 05:47 PM:

Made this today, and it is awesome! Thank you so much.

#197 ::: Peggy ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2005, 11:37 AM:

I'm looking for Virgin Fire Hot Sauce Dragon's Breath does anybody know where I can buy some?

#198 ::: john slobber ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2006, 04:41 PM:

grow habs yearly here in East Tennessee and have aquired somewhat of a tolerance (emphasis on somewhat!)...have made the infused oil many times and only add kosher salt to the oil...enhances flavor. we add it to many of our foods (spaghetti, enchaladas, a dab on a grilled NY strip, etc)...my fav is sooo simple...using only the flesh, the sharpest cheddar you can find, and salt! cube the cheese, slice habanero into 1/4" to 1/2" pieces, and sprinkle salt on a plate...using toothpick, skewer both cheese and pepper and "dip" into salt (hypertension be damned!)and pop into your mouth! i have many people hooked on the flavor blast and the beer chaser is a plus! the salt not only enhances the flav, but cuts the heat as well. as a dumb ol' pharmacist, i don't see how salt breaks the oils down, but it does. remember, it's never any hotter than the 1st bite!

#199 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2006, 01:43 PM:

I LOVE chili oil. I decided to make some a couple days ago using habaneros that I dried in the oven over a couple hours, about 20 dried red chilis and 20 of some other kind of dried chili. Everything was going good, I got it up to a simmer, turned the heat down to where I thought it wouldn't burn, and left the kitchen. See where this is going? One distraction led to another and before you knew it, I was washing my truck (I'm usually a hawk when I do this chili oil stuff, don't know what happened that day). I got back to find my entire house full of noxious chili smoke. After trying a quick breath & realizing just how bad it was I went back to the garage for the respirator. Now that I could breathe I got to the kitchen to find one charred mess spewing off mounds of smoke, and it wasn't stopping anytime soon. So outside it went. In hindsight, I should've poured a thick layer of baking soda on it, oh well. Had to ventilate the place, no time to think. With all the windows open the air wasn't clear for 2 hours. I thought that was the extent of the damage, but when I tried to go to sleep that night I realized that everywhere the smoke went, so did the capsaicin, and so my head got a little warm from the stuff on my pillow, and I could feel my nose and the back of my throat warming up as I breathed it in. So I slept in my truck. The next day everything in the house got washed, including all my clothes, the carpet, the bedding. After all that I sat down on my couch, and could feel the back of my calves start burning. Criminy. At least all the furniture is leather so it's easy to clean. Today's after work project is going to include a good rubbing with oil based furniture stuff for the capsaicin to bind to, and then that's going to get washed off with soapy water. Then we'll see if it's cleaned up or not. If not, then I'll try alcohol. Last resort will be a bleach wash, which I don't want to do for so many reasons. The worst thing is, you can't see the capsaicin. You don't where it's at, and you don't know if what you tried worked until you rub some skin on it and wait. I found this page while looking for some cleanup solutions, and it's given me some stuff to try, so I'm grateful, but I didn't want to just take it and leave. So I hope some people will find this useful, if not as a lesson to keep it from happenning, perhaps some ideas to get going on their own cleanup. Since yesterday's big cleanup it hasn't been as bad, basically the capsaicin levels are low enough now that any skin that comes in contact feels like it's got icy hot on it.

#200 ::: Chad ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2006, 07:52 PM:

How do I get rid of the hotness after eating the peppers? Milk? Bread? What can I use?
HELP ME!!!

#201 ::: cynthia carlson ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 09:10 AM:

Oh thank you for posting how to make oil from Habs!
I have been growing them for 3 years now and experimenting with them. I picked up a plant in an effort to get my husband interested in my gardening hobby...I figured peppers were manly LOL
He loves his habs, I also grow cayennes, chilis, serrano, and kung pao..I try jalapeno every year but without much success. I live in northern wisconsin.
I have a question for anyone who knows..please email me. I have used different recipes to make oil, it works to keep deer from eating up my garden,and I cook with it. I would also like to make decorative jars of it with the fruit in it for gifts, but I have had a problem with it molding. . Only when I leave the fruit in it tho...what do I need to do to the fruit to leave it looking pretty in my oil without turning bad?
thank you!

#202 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2006, 11:15 PM:

Cynthia, it's at least challenging, and more likely dangerous, to leave a few peppers floating in the oil, especially given that it's going to be used in homeopathic quantities over a long period of time. That style of decoration works much better with herbs in seasoned vinegar, or dried fruits and whole spices suspended in flavored honey. A strong vinegar solution will pickle the decorative bits. Honey is so hygroscopic that it kills microbes -- it used to be used as a preservative.

The trouble with floating water-based foodstuffs in oil is that they just sit there. It's that oil-and-water thing. Effectively, you have wet uncooked foodstuffs sitting around unrefrigerated. Peppers can go bad just as readily in a jar of oil as they could in a jar of water, or sitting out on the kitchen counter.

On top of that, because the oil keeps air out, the flesh of the peppers is an anaerobic environment, which means botulinus mold can grow there. Nothing is worth the risk of botulism.

In theory, you could put peppers into the oil, heat it up to canning temperatures and leave it there a while, then slap a ring-and-dome lid on the jar. In practice, I've never been able to leave any wet materials in flavored oil without having the whole thing go nasty long before the oil was used up. That's why I go to so much trouble to get every bit of water out when I make it. Also, if you do that the peppers will discolor and go limp, which I'll bet isn't the effect you had in mind.

If you can lay hands on dried materials -- dried peppers, whole dried spices, dried strips of citrus zest -- I suppose you could tie them up like a bouquet garni and put those in the oil instead. Again, you'd want to first make sure they were bone-dry before you added them.

Good luck. Let me know how it comes out.

#203 ::: Ray McHatton / Smokin' Scotsman ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2007, 11:33 PM:

Teresa N H --

Love the pepper dialouge. I made some pepper oil today 09/02/07 using your microwave method. It worked out great. Thanks very much for passing it along. I did one batch with Scotch Bonnets, and one with Thai Dragons. The peppers are from my garden in Massachusetts. I also put in some of my own rosemary and a few whole peppercorns. Not sure if I can taste them, though. My fifteen year old son and I have been sampling the oil by the spoonful tonight. I see what you mean about the buffering of the oil.
I love to grow hot peppers, but cannot always find a safe use for some of the hotter ones. Until now. I will have to see if it helps out my many aches and pains in wrists, knees, back, the list goes on...
Perhaps I will use the oil with my smoked ribs and brisket to help my homemade dry rub adhere to the meat. The usual way to get the rub to stick is to use standard yellow mustard mixed w/ oil, but I love to do everything as homemade as possible.
Just buying the olive oil in a large size was an eyeopener for me. I usually pay about 6 dollars for a pint, but found out a 3 liter can was only around 11 dollars! Not the same kind, but once the peppers were added, who can tell?
Thanks again.

Ray / Smokin' Scotsman

#204 ::: Rich S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 12:27 PM:

I'm confused by the "turn the bottle over in the fridge" part of the recipe. Why not keep it upright and take the water off the top?

#205 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 02:09 PM:

Rich S

That's so the water will be at the top. It's heavier than the oil. (It worked for me.)

#206 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 03:03 PM:

The water never separated out for me. Still, I've been using the oil for over a year now, and it's damn tasty.

#207 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 12:40 PM:

A cautionary note: Burning chilli sparks terror fear.

Security dinner theatre.

#208 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 03:16 AM:

Capsaicin enhancing local anesthetic, from Scientic American

#209 ::: Mark Temporis ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2008, 04:51 PM:

I have actually had both mishaps working with habaneros: touching my eyes afterward and using the restroom. The pain goes away eventually; with the eye incident I did sort of feel like Harvey Dent for a few minutes, but don't think the small but painful amount of habanero residue could do any actual damage.

And it feels really good when the pain stops. I think your body still releases endorphins for a few minutes and there's a real rush there.

My hand-eye coordination is bad enough without gloves, and putting a bladed object in my gloved hands is far more dangerous than either proposition.

#210 ::: Antongarou ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 07:53 AM:

Hello Teresa, love the recipe.a couple of practical questions:
1) how much olive oil did use in the recipe you mentioned upthread(#131)?

2)how do you get rid of the cocoa powder, if you do get rid of it?

3)I don't have a double steamer but I use a large pyrex bowl over a pot of water instead- will covering it with foil be sufficient to prevent biohazard?

4)last but not least- when you talk about "fresh" olive oil do you mean freshly opened bottle or oil bought at autumn(when the oil bought is freshest) and used immediately?

#211 ::: chuck anway ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2010, 09:23 PM:

Jennifer,
You are right on! I have three granddaughters from hell...they are into everything 6, 8, and 12. They are into everything. I decided to grow jalapeño and banana peppers, but bought haba instead. Those peppers were very pretty red...and the eight year old decided to help herself. I left it to everyone else to get her fixed, milk, bread etc. but after fifteen minutes she was still in serious pain. I took her into the kitchein, and not knowing what to do had her swish and spit salt water. After five times, the pain was gone. Then multiple washings of her face and hands. She was good as new in five minutes.

#212 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2010, 09:30 PM:

Chuck, contact lens solution works better, especially if she got it in her eyes. It's an oil, so butter that bread and use whole milk, not skim (like dissolves like).

That said, I'm glad you found something that worked.

#213 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2010, 10:28 PM:

210
I used a 250ml bottle of oil for four habaneros.
It was fresh-from-the-store oil, which is what's generally available in the US. (I know where I can buy fresher oil, but it requires either a special trip to a store that carries it, or buying gallons online.

#214 ::: Antongarou ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2010, 06:24 AM:

Thanks PJ. As to freshness- if anybody tries to sell you olive oil "fresher then you can get in the stores" and it's not autumn, then they're trying to con you. Mostly stores are pretty decent at getting fresh olive oil, from my experience, OTOH it is a staple in Israel so YMMV.

Autumn is olive picking(and thus oil making) season, so you can get fresher oil then, but any oil bought after a certain time will be the same as in the store and not worth the bother. And don't bother if you don't plan on using it immediately and/or you buy your oil in opaque containers either.

#215 ::: Cadbury Moose sights spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 09:02 AM:

An apparent help request on an old thread with the user name linking to a website?

I think not: it looks suspiciously spammish to this moose.

#216 ::: TexAnne sees spam that isn't even trying ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2011, 10:36 PM:

What *do* they teach them in the schools these days?

#217 ::: Olive ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2012, 03:13 PM:

Aside from the fact that I got enormous amusement from reading both the article and the various comments, I also got some courageous ideas for habs. I have a plant...OMG, what a plant. Seems it adores Kauai and is going bonkers. So, I will gingerly (habanero-ly) try various methods of calming them down enough to enjoy instead of calling 911. Thanks for the giggles.

#218 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2012, 04:01 PM:

Welcome Olive!

It has a pun!

And do you write poetry?

#219 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2012, 04:02 PM:

Might not be spam, as it makes sense to me. Someone in Hawaii with a plant that's enjoying its location way too much. (Habaneros are, after all, native to the Caribbean.)

#220 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 06:41 PM:

Hiccup cure we've used in our family. Is easy and is an instant cure.

The hiccuper puts fingers in both their ears. With the help of someone else drink a glass of water. The swallowing with plugged ears does the trick. If alone then get a plastic cup that is light.

#221 ::: Katje Sabin ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2012, 04:54 PM:

I came here to get a recipe to make habañero oil for a specific purpose: to coat my birdseed so the squirrels won't keep destroying and emptying my feeders. They won't starve... I plan to put out some unoiled seed for them... but right now, they totally wipe out any amount of seeds and do not share. Time for the big guns!

#222 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2012, 06:25 PM:

Katje, have you tried simply mixing crushed red pepper in with the birdseed? Might be just as effective, and it's MUCH less work!

#223 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2012, 06:46 PM:

Incidentally, "habanero" derives from "Havana", the capital of Cuba, so no tilde over the n. (I had that wrong for quite a long time myself!)

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