Saturday, June 02, 2007

Weekend Herb Blogging - Jalapeños

So, jalapeños are supposed to be "mild." Right. I suppose it's all relative. But I chopped jalapeños this morning, didn't wear gloves, and my hands hurt! I think it's where I have some chapped skin, because it's on the backs of my fingers.

I was working on the computer just now, thinking about my burning fingers, and realized I could write about jalapeños for Weekend Herb Blogging. Jalapeño Madness, a website devoted to these peppers, tells me how to stop the burning on my fingers:

Try rubbing alcohol first to remove the burning oil. Then, soak the skin in milk or another dairy product. Only use water or saline for your eyes, however, and please remember that the best way to combat the chile pepper heat is to use rubber gloves when handling peppers.

These are my poor, red fingers - the oil from the jalapeños actually burned them. I'm glad I wasn't cutting up scotch bonnets or habañeros!

How did the jalapeño get its name? The story goes like this: One of the things Christopher Columbus was looking for, along with a passage to China, was spices. After his first voyage to the New World, he returned to Europe with "aji," or "child." As chilies such as this one made their way into cooking, the "aji" was named "jalapeño," after the town of Xalapa, Veracruz, where it was traditionally produced.

The majority of our jalapeños come from Mexico, where the natives eat them as snack foods, plucking them in droves from sidewalk carts and fields. The red variety of the jalapeño is a bit milder than the green variety, and sweeter as well. They are also milder than their cousin, the serrano, another popular chile pepper, though not as widely known as our favorite, the jalapeño.

Note: I just went and rubbed my fingers with rubbing alcohol; the burning has gotten a little less intense, but isn't completely gone.

Why was I cutting up jalapeños? I just got my June copy of Cooking Light, and saw this fabulous recipe: Fiery Flank Steak with Tomato Jam. We'll be cooking the flank steak on the grill tomorrow, but today I had to get it into the marinade, which has 2 minced jalapeños in it, and I had to cook the tomato jam, which has another 2 minced jalapeños. I'm wondering how hot this will be, since I included the membranes and seeds. We'll see!

Yeah, yeah - I'll use gloves next time!

Visit Kalyn's Kitchen for this weekend's roundup - she's the founder of this great event, too!


Kalyn said...

I have to confess, I've only used jalapenos from a can. I'll be sure to wear gloves though if I use fresh ones for anything!

whodatdare said...

Hi, I just found your blog and saw something about jalapenos.

The seeds and the pith (membrane) is where most of the heat is in a jalapeno so if you left them in your food will have more heat. If you want to temper it a little try adding some red wine vinegar into your recipe. It will blend the heat better so it's not the first thing anyone will notice in the dish.

Christine said...

Hi Cyndi,
I like your new blog look and name. When I get a jalapeno pepper burn, I get out a piece of bread (whole wheat works just fine) and blot the area. The bread soaks up the oils in no time. I stuck my peppered finger in my eye the other day (I keep latex gloves for when I cook with peppers. You'd think I'd remember to use them!) and in no time the heat was gone when I blotted with bread.

DawnsRecipes said...

This has happened to me making jalapeño cornbread...but not every time. Not all jalapeños are created equal! Sometimes they're hotter than others. So, whenever you see a recipe that calls for a certain number of them, you may want to adjust that number after giving your peppers a little taste test.