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What to do when you bite into a hot chilli
Burned by chilli? Follow the steps below to relieve the pain.
If you bite into a chilli that is unpleasantly hot, don't drink a glass of water. It will do nothing but spread the pain around your mouth and the burning sensation will intensify.
To stop the burning try the following:
- Take a large drink of creamy milk, hold it in your mouth for a minute or so, then spit it out discreetly. Repeat as necessary.
- The same can be achieved by swirling water or ice-cream and spitting it out. As long as you do not swallow, you should be fine.
- Eat a piece of fresh bread, a cooked potato or some rice. All of these will absorb the hotness.
What makes chillies hot?
What makes the chilli hot is the amount of the chemical capsaicin contained in the seeds and fibrous white lining. Apart from producing anything from a tingle to a tidal wave of heat, capsaicin also contributes to the feel-good factor by stimulating the brain to produce hormones called endorphins.
How to handle chillies so you don't get burned
Capsaicin is an irritant and can cause severe burning to delicate parts of the face and elsewhere on the body if it comes into contact. You have to be extremely careful how you handle your hot chillies when preparing them; always use gloves and use a knife and fork to cut the chillies up.
If you do handle the chillies without gloves, make sure you wash your hands directly after using hot soapy water because capsaicin will not wash off your hands using water alone. You can use vegetable oil to remove any residue and wash your hands again afterwards.
How do you know if a chilli is hot or not
Does size and colour make a difference? Not when it comes to chillies so how can you tell if a chilli is hot?
Although some of the hottest chillies are really small, there are some bigger varieties that are just as hot if not hotter. Colour isn't a reliable clue either; most chillies start green, then turn red when ripe, some start yellow and ripen to red as well, some others stay yellow all the way through the ripening process and across this spectrum you will find mild and hot chillies. If that wasn't enough to confuse you, chillies that grow on the same plant can possess different degrees of heat, and some chillies grown on the top of the plant will be hotter than chillies grown close to the bottom of the plant.
There is no reliable way of telling how hot your chillies are if you're growing them at home, you just have to try a little to see. But if you are getting your chillies from your local supermarket, there should be a heat rating allocated to them.