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A great way to add an addictive spicy flavor to your dish is by adding jalapeno peppers. These can be added to both fresh and cooked meals, adding color, flavor, and a whole new level to your dish. A cut jalapeno can irritate your skin and other areas, so it is best to learn how to cut a jalapeno pepper properly.
Table of Contents
- What Are Jalapeno Peppers?
- Helpful Tips For Cutting Jalapeno Peppers
- Best Methods For Cutting Jalapenos
- Is It Worth Cutting Your Own Jalapenos?
What Are Jalapeno Peppers?
Jalapeno peppers are the most common type of the Capsicum annuum species. The sweet yet spicy flavor they possess gives them the versatility to be used in an array of dishes without seeming out of place. They can be used for spicy recipes, smoothies, hot sauces, or to add a slight edge to any other dish.
Spicy food is measured in a unit known as Scovilles. The Scoville scale is globally used to measure each pepper and its spice levels. Jalapeno peppers have a Scoville level of 2500-8000, which is similar to the Fresno pepper. For a good perspective, the Carolina Reaper has a whopping Scoville level of 1,641,183. This shows that the jalapeno pepper, while spicy to some people with a low tolerance, is relatively mild compared to the average peppers.
Helpful Tips For Cutting Jalapeno Peppers
Like all spicy food, jalapenos contain a compound known as capsaicin. This is what makes the pepper spicy and it can easily cause irritation on the skin and a burning sensation. To be careful and prepared, there are a few ways you can minimize this.
A very easy way to minimize any risk of irritation is to wear gloves. Any plastic or latex-based gloves will work, as long as they are thin enough that you can still handle knives properly. Big gloves can be so thick that you are unable to grip as precisely as you can without gloves. When handling a knife, you want as much control as possible so skintight gloves that are thin will be ideal.
When removing your gloves, ensure that you do not touch the areas on the gloves that made contact with the capsaicin.
Test Your Peppers Before Use
If you are on the fence about how cautious you need to be when handling a jalapeno or pepper of any kind, it would be worth your time to test it. To do this you will want to cut a small slice of the pepper and eat it. Eating it will give you a good idea as to how spicy it is and if you should be worried.
To see if your skin is sensitive to the pepper, you can also gently rub the open side of the pepper onto a tiny bit of skin on your arm, similar to how people test if they are sensitive to bleach when dying their hair.
Be Cautious Of sensitive Areas
While it may seem like common knowledge, peppers can irritate your skin but will actively burn any sensitive areas. This means that when handling peppers, you must be extremely cautious as to where you are placing your hands. Sensitive areas include open wounds, cuts, eyes, and genitals. While that last one may sound a bit extreme, it is easy to forget that your hands are covered in capsaicin if there is no active pain or burning sensation.
Rub Oil Between Your Hands After Handling
The compound capsaicin is oil-soluble. This means that it will easily be washed away by oil. If you are experiencing a burning sensation after cutting a pepper, or you are wanting to be extra cautious, rub your hands together with oil. What oil you use is up to you, but vegetable oil, olive oil, and sunflower oil will all work very well.
After rubbing your hands thoroughly in oil for two minutes, you can rinse them with dish soap and warm water. This will remove both the oil and capsaicin.
Best Methods For Cutting Jalapenos
The way you cut your jalapeno will depend on how you plan on using it in a dish. Sliced jalapenos are best for adding as a garnish to nachos and other dishes, whereas, diced jalapenos will be ideal for adding inside of a dish to flavor it deeply.
However you choose to cut jalapenos is up to you, but each method will be better suited to each dish and it is best to make sure you choose the appropriate cutting method.
If the dish you are making requires you to keep the seeds in your peppers, then the easiest way to cut them is into slices. This is great for adding them to dishes as a garnish instead of an ingredient.
Using a cutting board and a sharp knife, cut off the top of the pepper where the stem is. You can use latex gloves while doing this to make sure that you can grip the pepper firmly and not get any capsaicin on your skin. Once you have removed the top of the pepper, discard it and cut the rest of the pepper into even slices. This should be done in a single cutting motion. If it is difficult or you require a slight sawing action, then your knife is not sharp enough.
Dicing a jalapeno is a great way to prepare it for being added to a dish as an ingredient, or for making homemade salsa or a chunky hot sauce.
To properly dice your jalapeno you will want to remove the stem end of the pepper and discard it. After this, cut the pepper in half lengthwise with your sharp knife. Using a small spoon, you can scrape out the seeds and get rid of them. Once you have your jalapeno halves ready, lay them face down on a cutting board, and julienne them, before dicing.
To do this, you will want to simply slice the jalapenos into thin strips horizontally and then slice them again vertically. This will evenly dice your pepper halves.
If you do not like how spicy your jalapenos are, you can remove the seeds. The seeds of any pepper are where the highest concentration of capsaicin is. While removing the seeds without halving the pepper first will require a bit of confidence with a knife, it is not too difficult at all.
To do this, you will want to remove the stem end of the jalapeno. With a paring knife, you can carefully work around the inside to remove the seeds and core without piercing the flesh or skin. After this, you can cut and prepare your jalapeno however you would like.
Is It Worth Cutting Your Own Jalapenos?
While it is not difficult to do so, there is still some effort required to manually prepare your jalapenos. You could easily buy a jar of sliced jalapenos from a supermarket to save you the effort.
While this is of course an option, it will be a lot more expensive to buy pre-prepared jalapenos than it would to buy a bag of fresh ones. Alongside the extra cost, buying a jar of sliced jalapenos will not always be good as a recipe might call for diced or seeded jalapenos. Buying your own fresh peppers and learning how to properly prepare them will really help you on your way to becoming a better chef.