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Joey B Cooks » Ingredients » Jalapeno Chiles – Burn Baby Burn!

Jalapeno Chiles – Burn Baby Burn!

As I mentioned in the intro to the Black Bean Salsa recipe, I find that the heat in jalapenos can be inconsistent. Some seem burning hot and some surprisingly mild. But either way, the thumb-size chile can bring the pain, especially if it gets into a cut, or especially in your eyes!

When I first started making salsa years ago, I had very little experience using chiles of any kind. So, I didn’t know I needed to worry about the capsaicin (the substance that makes them hot) getting on my hands. As it turned out, that wasn’t the real worry. As it turns out, the real danger came when I rubbed my eye with a hand that had been handling the jalapenos once they had been cut open and minced.

I noticed the burn right away, then it got worse, fast! I raced into the bathroom to look at my eye in the mirror. My eye was really red. (I’ve since found out that capsaicin is the thing that makes pepper spray so deadly!) Since I didn’t know what I didn’t know, I foolishly tried to remove the contact lens in that eye, with the very fingers that had caused the problem. And I thought it hurt before. Wow. It was torture. It didn’t do any real harm, but it hurt intensely for what seemed like forever.

The next time or two that I made salsa, I tried to be more careful with the jalapenos. But since I still didn’t know what I was doing, it happened again. Not quite as bad as the first time, but still painful enough. After that I started using disposable plastic gloves whenever i handled jalapenos. That helped tremendously. Eventually I learned to not touch the exposed flesh, ribs or seeds of the chiles when making salsa. I let the knife touch them, cut them and scoop them into the bowl.

So, needless to say, be careful whenever using chiles. If you’re just starting to make salsa, either use gloves, or at least keep your hands away from your eyes!

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