I'm afraid of my habaneros!
They are sitting on the counter staring at me, mocking me. They must be able to smell fear. I need to show them who's boss. Any ideas?
Your fear is not unreasonable - those things are fierce. The best way to deal with a plethora of them (I was once given about a gallon with no prior notice!) is to freeze them, like this:
Get them good and clean, then get good HEAVY rubber gloves, not those wimpy yellow things, and a good sharp paring knife, and spread some newspaper on the tabletop. Handling each pepper gently but firmly, and as little as possible, cut a circle around each stem, pull it out along with the glob of seeds, and discard, NOT into the disposal! Cut the pepper open and scrape any seeds out, then put the cleaned pepper into a wire colander. When all the peppers have been cleaned, dump them into a big bowl of cold water, swish them aoround a bit, then pour them back into the colander and shake out the excess water. Pack them into heavy Ziplocs and freeze. Now, still wearing those gloves, scrub your hands long and carefully with dish soap under running hot water. Take off the gloves, and wash your bare hands long and carefully with plenty of liquid soap. And despite all of these precautions, keep your fingers out of your eyes, nose, or anywhere similarly sensitive for the rest of the day. Trust me on this.
The reward for all this is that those frozen peppers are a real treasure, and will keep for a very long time. After they're frozen, you can pull out one or two whenever you're making a pot of beans or any dish that could use some emphasis, and re-close the bag.
don't worry, be happy (ha)
here's some of my favorite links on the subject
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/279217 tomato hab soup (and trini hot sauce
)http://www.chowhound.com/topics/326008 buckets of habs
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/327308 candied habs
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/327959 pineapple hab jam
First of all, freeze them or do something with them fast. The fresher the better.
My habs are nuts this year. I must have picked 200 of them already and they are still flowering. I make jelly and hot sauce and freeze the rest.
I never bother with any rigamarole. I pick them, wash them, dry them and freeze whole in ziplocks. Sometimes I want to have the seeds later. If I don't, I just scrape them out after I thaw them. Also, IMO it's a lot easier to just cut them in half and scrape out with a spoon that to cut little holes in the stem.
I wear gloves but I always put the refuse right down the garbage disposal. I don;t see that's wrong with that.
Here's a bunch of "Inner Beauty" type sauce recipes: http://www.google.com/search?rls=RNWE...
Here's the jelly recipe I use. I sue red bells for filler and at least 15 habs, some with stems and seeds but most without: http://www.pepperfool.com/recipes/jam...
re: C. Hamster
Be afraid, be very afraid! They may mock you, but don't fall into their trap!
They are wicked. DO wear heavy gloves, and wash well with hot soapy water ANY surfaces the habs have contacted. Wash your hands anyway. Keep some good plain yogurt around as an antidote. Learned my lesson YEARS ago, not knowing how HOT those little guys are. My hands burned for two days!
re: C. Hamster
Excellent set of advice, C. Hamster, especially the "immediate" part. I neglected to say that I had been given about two gallons of those things (a friend of ours had a commercial truck farm down in Maury County, TN) in brown bags, and I put off the chore long enough to lose half of them to mold. And, in thinking about it, I believe I did just split them open (the circle around the stem is how I deal with big peppers), but I did stem and seed them.
I don't put hot pepper seeds down the disposal anymore, after getting a little too close and getting a solid tear-gas blast coming up out of mine. I was hoarse for a week.
Yah, they freeze really well. Just make sure they are dry when they go in the freezer.
As for uses, if you don't like hot stuff in general, then it will take a while before they are used up. You've seen some hot sauce recipes here. I usually take about 10 or so (with the seeds) and steep them in about half cup of vinegar. Then stick all of that into a blender/food processor with some lime juice, maybe a little OJ or other fruit juice, some garlic. Whiz it up and taste it on tortilla chips and mux around until you like it. It's fun.
Anything that's typically spicy will be even better with some chopped habaneros thrown in. They really go well matched with a fruit type salsa. The hot and sweet and cool go nice.
Handling them - just be careful as other's have stated, but don't be afraid. Clean your knive and cutting board well, and wear gloves. Wash your hands when you're done and you'll be fine.
The only way to guage them is the Scoville scale. Check here for more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scoville...
and for comparison:
I love love love habenaros. I use them when my jalepeno plant can't keep up with my ever increasing self loathing and torture sessions through hot food. When using them, cut the amount of heat producing product back in the initial execution of the dish and add more after you've tasted. Once you find your happy medium, you can then start increasing the heat gradually instead of eating a firey ball of whatever, like your Thai food experience.
You will find your happy place with habeneros, it just takes a little time.