Have we talked about peppers yet?
I was talking to my buddy Jen at Starbucks this morning when she brought up that she had her husband doing the dirty work of chopping the habanero pepper for her jerk chicken tonight. Apparently, hubby was scorched from cutting the pepper and was in a bit of pain. You've done that, right?
Hot peppers (jalapenos, habaneros, etc.) contain a substance called capsaicin. That's where the heat comes from. When you chop them, the capsaicin gets on your hands (unless you're wearing gloves of course, which is never a bad idea when handling these spicy little buggers). Capsaicin is NOT water-soluble, which means that no matter how much you wash your hands, that stuff is sticking around for a while. Touch your eyes, use the facilities, whatever, and you can get this irritant all over places you just don't want it. So how the heck to you clean-up?
Well my pretties, capsaicin IS oil-soluble. Squirt a little bit of vegetable or olive oil on your hands and rub it around all the nooks and crannies, then wash your hands well with soap and water. Depending on the heat in the peppers, you may need to do this twice, but it will work for you and is a super easy solution. Ever since Chef Caroline told me this little gem years ago, I have used it over and over, and today, now you know.
So go forth and chop those peppers. Just wash up well with that oil first and you'll be golden.