Introduction: Remove the Heat of a Pepper (not Simply De-seeding!)
My method of removing 100% of the "hotness" of a pepper, or if you like, just minimalize it.
All you need is a knife, a thumb, some rubber gloves, olive oil, and a strong potable alcohol of your choice (tequila goes best with the flavor, in my opinion).
Many people, even the great Food Network, believe that the best way to reduce the heat of a pepper is to remove the seeds. While that is quick and effective, the theory is several decades old and outdated.
Most hot peppers on the market belong to the Capsicum genus. That burning sensation is caused by capsaicin, the lipophilic substance located in the seed pod and in "blisters" lining the pepper's inner walls.
This method first dilutes and loosens the capsaicin, then dissolves it away, leaving you with strictly the pepper's flavor.
To start, you will need:
- chili pepper of your choice
- sharp paring knife
- cutting board
- olive oil
- a strong alcoholic beverage (at least 80 proof)
- latex gloves (or synthetic, whatever)
- a shot glass
- a rocks glass or "lowball" glass
Step 1: Cutting the Beast
Be sure to have both gloves on before any of the following steps!
I slipped up at the end and took one off, and that kinda ruined my day. lol
With the knife, cut the top of the pepper to remove the stem.
Next, slice one side from top to bottom to open it up.
To remove the placenta (seed pod), cut the connective tissues between it and the inner wall.
Step 2: Make a Control Group
After you remove the seed pod, You should have a long strip of just pepper flesh. Out of curiosity, I cut off a section of unprocessed flesh to see the contrast between it and the soon to be rendered mild flesh.
I know you've heard this all throughout all the science classes you've ever taken, but make a control group.
It will allow you to see just how much of a difference this process makes, and you might appreciate it that much more.
...unless, of course, you're the kind of person who loves the deathly burn of true habaneros... -in which case I should wonder why you are even reading this.
*also, make sure that little or none of the white flesh is left. While the purpose of this experiment was to prove that the seed pod / placenta / white flesh does not contain ALL of the heat, it does still contain a good portion of it. It is also very bitter anyways, and should be removed.
Step 3: Release the Capsaicin
The capsaicin, contrary to popular belief, is mostly concentrated in the blisters on the inner walls of the pepper, not the seed pod alone. You must crush every one of these to free it.
Using your thumb nail or a spoon, scrape the inside of the pepper flesh. Make sure to get every corner and edge; just a nibble can kick pretty hard.
After you've scraped it, rinse with water. This step really won't get much capsaicin off, and is probably skipable... but it just feels right to rinse it.
Step 4: Dilute the Capsaicin
Next, pour a dash of olive oil onto the scraped side of the flesh and rub it in, basically scraping it again with your thumbnail.
After a good rub, rinse it off with water to get any excess out of there.
Step 5: Add the Fun Juice!
The alcohol will easily dissolve the capsaicin off of the surface, and should flush most of it off with a rinse of more alcohol.
I chose tequila since this is a chili pepper... and they just go with tequila so well.
Pour whatever hard beverage you chose onto the pepper, and rub it in just as you did with the olive oil.
Afterwards, rinse with another dash of alcohol, and leave to dry.
For any pepper under 100,000 SHU, this should have been enough to remove any trace of heat.
However, habaneros and above are some kind of special. next step will explain.
Step 6: A Long, Hard Soak
For habaneros (and likely anything else as hot or hotter), the simple rub and rinse in alcohol will not be enough.
They need to soak for 3 hours or so to completely remove the capsaicin.
After 1 hour, it should have the same heat of a serrano.
After 2 hours, it will have the heat of a strong jalapeno.
After 3 or so hours, it should have little or no heat left in its flesh.
The tequila, however, will have quite a kick to it.
For the soaking, place the processed peppers in the lowball glass and fill with tequila just enough to submerge the peppers completely. Too little tequila, and the capsaicin will not be completely removed from the pepper.
If you put too much tequila, the heat will still be gone from the pepper, but the tequila will have less of a kick.
If you want some heat left in your peppers, simply don't let them soak for too long.
Step 7: Storing
So far, I haven't had much of a chance to store them, since I eat them within a few days.
However, they seem to dry pretty well once they've been processed or even soaked. Leave them uncovered, or else they will begin to rot. Uncovered, they will breath and dehydrate, leaving you with some nice pepper skins.
If you leave them in the tequila over night, they will turn pale and taste gross. The tequila will be pretty good though.