There are many different ways to cook peppers, make sauces and whatever you want to do. Below I will try my best to give you some tips and hints of what and what not to do (based on reading and personal history, ouch).

Treat peppers as sex ... always wear latex!!! Laugh if you may but participating in either one without the help of good ole latex and you'll be sorry. And if you don't use rubber gloves (for peppers), please be sure and wash your hands thoroughly with soap afterwards (this goes for sex too). The first time I cut up and handled peppers I didn't heed this advice and I touched my face and arms and ... well ... an hour later I could tell you every single place I touched (I know what you're thinking and no, I didn't). For the next 4 hours after making my hot sauce, every 'infected' area was burning hot ... just like your tongue after eating one. It was very uncomfortable and will never happen again.

Blanching is when you bring 1 cup of white vinegar to a boil and drop in your peppers for a couple minutes (stems trimmed off of course). The amount of vinegar you use in your recipe will vary but this is where you will use it from. Be careful not to get a face-full of the vapor from blanching ... unless you are completely stopped up and out of Vic's Vapor Rub. You'll want to open all the windows you can and get a good steady breeze flowing through your home. You'll want to strain the vinegar into a glass measurer and once again ... BE CAREFUL. If you splash this stuff on you, you'll be in tremendous pain not only from the physical heat ... but from the capsicum heat.

If you've run out of ideas to use with fresh peppers, you'll probably want to dry them. Get yourself a cookie sheet and spread the peppers out on it. Trim the stems and slice them in half (if they're really big, you'll want to slice them a bit more). Set the peppers with the inside facing up (looking at the seeds) and put them in the oven. Put the oven on the lowest setting there is (plate warmer setting if possible) and leave them there for 24 hours. At this point, you will get in a fight with your wife because you didn't tell her you were going to do this. Call a local hotel and make appropriate reservations.

Here's what you'll want to do with the peppers after they are sufficiently dry. But again, make sure you have enough ventilation or you'll soon be using that HMO card. That little dust is as powerful as the Bubonic plague when it's concentrated. Anyway, grind up your selected peppers in your favorite food processor and bottle it in those little spice bottles. Make a cool label and you're ready for adding it to future sauces or foods.

If you like your peppers roasted, that's easy enough to do. You can stick 'em on the grill or in a non-stick frying pan. But only roast them until the skin is slightly blistered or you'll overcook. Then you can stick them in your food processor for with some tomatoes for some great salsa!

Ok, I made up this verb, but this is what I call actually making a sauce. You will want to take the blanched vinegar and the peppers and puree them in the food processor. To get this to the consistency that you want, only add part of the vinegar at first. Then slowly add more vinegar or other liquids to get the sauce just right. You'll want to refrigerate all the sauces you make after tightly bottling them. Then wait a week before enjoying the fruits of your labor (pun intended).

If you went completely crazy and planted way too many pepper plants, you may also want to freeze them. The secret to freezing and locking in the flavor is to blanch them first. This will keep the spicy hotness almost as good as having them completely fresh.

Well, I didn't know what to call this section. If for some reason you went totally overboard in making a sauce or salsa, then you need to cool it down right?? Well, here's another secret, just add cumin to the recipe to take away some of the pain. You could also try thinning the hotness with rice or macaroni. Still, once you've gotten it hot, it's extremely hard to come back from the fire.

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Last Modified: Thursday, 24-Jan-2008 08:05:32 EST