My friends say I have a wimpy mouth so when it comes to peppers, I prefer the mild bell. But as the weather cools, hot chilies are a great way to warm up my meals.
There’s a variety to choose from including cayenne, habanero, serrano and, of course, jalapenos. With proper handling, selection, preparation and storage, all your family can enjoy the flavor, texture and nutrition of this veggie.
Remember the capsaicin in chili peppers pack the heat and can burn the eyes and skin. Use rubber gloves when possible and wash your hands well with soap and water. Always avoid touching anyone’s nose, eyes, or mouth after handling hot peppers.
For fresh peppers, choose firm glossy produce with taut smooth skin and green stems. Store them up to three weeks by wrapping them unwashed in paper towels before refrigerating. Peppers can also be used canned or dried. Dried hot peppers should be glossy and unbroken. If you’re keeping dried chilies more than four months, store them in the refrigerator.
To prepare chili peppers, rinse them and cut them in half. To decrease the heat intensity of chilies, remove the seeds and veins. Or, soak chopped chilies in salt water for one to two hours to cool them off. If there is too much heat after biting into a pepper, chew on bread or another starchy food because water only spreads the heat.
Peppers are a great source of Vitamin C and anti-oxidants, but low in calories. Enjoy them in your favorite dish or try the Spicy Serrano Salsa below. Salsa is a great topping for baked potatoes. Add peppers to your shopping list and you’re moving steps closer to a healthier family. (Adapted from Feeling hot, hot, hot! In September/October 2013 “Dining on a Dime”.)
Nozella Brown is a Family and Consumer Sciences educator for Kansas State Research and Extension, Wyandotte County. Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/KSREWyco and Follow her on Twitter @WyCoSnapEd.
Spicy Serrano Salsa
Makes: 2 servings
3 or 4 tomatoes (the fleshy Roma type is preferred)
1 serrano pepper, stems removed
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
¼ fresh onion, finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped fresh (or tablespoons dried) cilantro
Wash hands and cooking surfaces. Place an oven rack at the highest position possible. Preheat oven to 45 degrees F. Place tomatoes and pepper on a cookie sheet. Bake on the upper rack for 10 minutes or until skins start to blacken. Use tongs to turn the tomatoes and peppers over. Roast for 10 minutes or until blackened. Remove from oven. Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Blend to desired consistency. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.
Nutritional information for each serving: 2 tablespoons provides 5 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 0mg sodium, 6g protein, 10% Vitamin A, 25% Vitamin C, 20% calcium, 2% iron.