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Video:How to Handle a Habanero Chile

with Jen D'Amore

Handle a habanero pepper carefully, since they are probably the hottest pepper you'll find at the grocery store. Learn how to properly handle a habanero pepper.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Handle a Habanero Chile

Hi I'm Jen D'Amore for About.com, and this video is all about how to handle a habanero.

A Habanero Chile Pepper's Heat Level

It looks so petite and harmless, but the capsaicin in these peppers is rated between 200,000 and 300,000 scoville heat units. Just to put that in perspective, the ever popular jalapeno is rated between 2,500 and 8,000 SHU.

The oil inside is not just hot, it's hydrophilic, so water alone will not lesson its burn. To be of any help, water will need to already have detergent in it. As far as ingesting, oils and fats can help to soothe the burn, as can tequila. But the best way to handle habaneros, is with caution.

Safety Precautions to Take When You Handle a Habanero Chile Pepper

When possible, work outside. Wear gloves. You really don't need the oil coming in contact with your skin, or your eyes. So eye protection is also recommended, or at the very least make sure you don't touch anywhere near your eyes. Yes, the goggles may seem extreme, but better to be safe than sorry, unless you want to earn bragging rights for "taking habanero oil in the eye" and living to tell about it.

When handling habaneros, don't use anything made out of wood. Use a cutting board that is not porous, and won't hold onto any oil, so that you'll be able to fully remove the oil when you're done.

Tips on How to Handle a Habanero Chile Pepper While Cooking

As with other chile peppers, the heat is concentrated in the seeds and the veins. So, you may want to start by removing them and setting them aside, and work with the less potent flesh of the chile, then add them back in to your taste.

If you want to be able to throw in a little of the habanero's delightful flavor into a dish now and then without having to break out the personal protective gear, you can use your habaneros to prepare batches of oil, jelly, or powder to be used later.

Freezing is also a good way to preserve their flavor. Half or quarter cut each, lay them them on a cookie sheet to freeze and once they're frozen, store them in a double bag. They can be thrown into a dish without any thawing. But the same rules apply when handling, so be mindful to use non-porous materials, and coat everything with detergent before coming into contact with water.

For cleanup, make sure everything gets a good, detergent filled scrub. Degreasing cleaners are also a great follow-up. And if you've missed a step and accidentally used something porous, you may just have to sacrifice that item.

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