Anatomy of a chile pepper

Keeping Food Safe: Chile Peppers

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Chile peppers are becoming increasingly popular, showing up in everything from jelly to beer!

Here are some spicy facts:

  • Capsaicin is the chemical responsible for making peppers hot.
  • The amount of heat is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU).
  • Bell peppers are considered a zero on the scale, while habaneros range from 200,000 — 350,000 units.

Chile Pepper Food Safety Tips

Fresh Peppers

  • Rinse well under running water, rubbing gently to clean and remove dirt, especially around the stem area which can be a harbor site for bacteria.
Chile heat chart

Roasted Peppers

  • Whether purchased from a vendor or roasted at home, make sure to refrigerate roasted chiles within two hours after roasting.
  • With clean hands or a utensil, transfer peppers from plastic bags to covered containers for refrigerator storage, or a freezer bag or food safe container if freezing.
  • Consume within 2-3 days in the refrigerator, or freeze for future use.

Chile Pepper Handling Tips:

  • To decrease the heat, remove the seeds and placenta (which contains the highest concentration of capsaicin).
  • When working with chiles, wear gloves and glasses to keep the capsaicin oil away from sensitive areas.
  • Grab a glass of milk (instead of water) if you eat a pepper spicier than you can handle. The casein in milk binds with the capsaicin oil and helps wash it away from your mouth.