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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?

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  1. 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.

    1. 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

      1. If you want something different & exotic for BBQ check out www.primaenterprise.com

        1. 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...

          4 Replies
          1. 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!

            1. re: alkapal

              Mine are too hot to eat raw. They blistered my lip.

              Def wash your knives, cutting boards, etc. -- I rec twice, as I had an "incident" with a knife that I had washed but still has capsaicin on it.

              1. re: C. Hamster

                And don't go near your eyes for a day/night of hand washes, shower, etc.

            2. 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.

            3. 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.

              Have fun!

              4 Replies
              1. re: GDSinPA

                A-hem! I washed exactly as I advised above, first the gloves, then the hands. That evening I unconsciously used a finger to pick at an eye-boogey and thought I was gonna die, right eye first.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  Oop, don't mean to minimize the heat there! I've never heard of anyone washing the gloves. I use disposables and take them off directly into the trash never touching skin to glove. Then I wash my hands like crazy.

                2. re: GDSinPA

                  How would you gauge the amount in comparison to say, cayenne in a dish? I love hot food, I just had a bad experience with some hot Thai food and got ulcers in my mouth for a week.

                  1. re: WCchopper

                    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.

                3. Our favorite steak recipe includes habaneros in the sauce:

                  "Grilled Korean-Style Steaks with Spicy Cilantro Sauce" on the Food Network Web site:


                  1. I got really brave and used to take one to work every day, I would just take a tiny tiny bite every now and then and you eventually get used to it, plus they are good for you.

                    1. I have dusted off my scuba googles and welding gloves. Thanks for the help in handling my little bundles of molton lava.
                      Can any of you add suggestions for other things that compliment or enhance the specific taste of the habenero?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: WCchopper

                        Jerk sauce is another great idea.

                        As far as flavors that compliment habs, IMO, fruit does. Esp pineapple and mango.

                        1. re: C. Hamster

                          Also very nice in a basic red sauce - throw one or two in the pot depending on size and strength, instead of using chili flakes
                          And then make a Mario Batali Two Minute Lifeguard Sauce, with squid, israeli couscous (a small pasta), currants, caper berries and pine nuts

                      2. I got a little cocky today with my Hungarian Hot Wax peppers (7 lbs of them). I thought, "they can't be THAT toxic. They're not even that hot." I only had one rubber glove and didn't want to go out to get more, so I am now paying the price. My left hand(the gloveless one) has been burning since 1pm. I tried soaking it in vinegar, then a water/bleach mixture both with temporary results. The only thing that soothed it was a good slather of Desitin, which then made me smell like a diaper. My husband called me Diaper Digits.

                        Be careful out there! Even the most friendly looking pepper can be evil inside.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: dukegirl

                          Doesn't yogurt "tame" the capsaicin?

                        2. Something I'd forgotten about completely was the way I used about a quarter of the habaneros I froze: I made jerk sauce! Man, that was some HOT sauce, but so delicious, and it stayed wonderful clear through to the broth I made from the leftover jerk chicken carcasses.

                          3 Tbs ground allspice
                          1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
                          1 tsp ground cinnamon
                          1 Tbs ground coriander
                          4 scallions w/some green, chopped
                          1 tsp tamarind concentrate
                          1/4 c wine vinegar
                          1/4 c oil
                          3 or 4 habañero peppers, trimmed of ribs and seeds
                          salt and pepper

                          Put everything in a blender jar. If it's too dry to blend properly (as it probably will be) add some water, lime juice or rum. Blend to a smooth, ash-colored purée.

                          To use: spread over surface of meat (pork, chicken, goat, whatever), NOT with bare hands!! Let sit, covered and refrigerated, for 4 to 24 hours, depending on how emphatic you want the flavor. Cook as slowly as you can on a covered grill - what you want is fall-off-the-bone succulence. You can also cook it on a rack in a covered pan in a slow oven - won't have that fire flavor, but it's still good.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Will Owen

                            I think I might try this one. Do you think it would freeze well if I made the jerk sauce out of my fresh habs?

                            1. re: WCchopper

                              I'm sure it would, but tihis stuff will also keep quite well just in the fridge. Plenty of preservatives involved. But there's no fragile water-bearing membranes to burst when frozen, so I'd expect that just scraping this sauce into a lidded plastic tub would make it ready for freezing. Keep in mind that Caribbean islanders have been making and keeping big batches of this stuff since well before anyone invented refrigerators.

                              I frankly envy you your bounty. I planted one pepper plant on my patio this year and have gotten exactly ONE pepper, the ripening of which I eagerly await...

                          2. Roast a few habaneros with three or four roma tomatoes, a clove of garlic...toss it all into a food processor once it's cooled, along with some olive oil and a bit of fresh flat leaf parsley...Serve over al dente pasta...While it's really spicy, it's also so delectable! Roasting really brings out the fruitiness of the habaneros and the pasta helps to cool your mouth. It's good with Prosecco...another good way to cool your mouth!

                            1. I made pineapple habanero jam today. It is LUCIOUS! I got the recipe from this site, can't remember what thread, but damn it is tasty. The only changes I made were cut the habs down to 5 (yeah, Im a sissy) and added a handful of fresh raspberries just for kicks. We slathered it all over...get ready....pillsbury cresent rolls and then mixed in a little whipped cream cheese and smeared it on some Ritz. WOW. Although, I really can't imagine 15 freakin habs in that little bit of pineapple!

                              1. I was messing around in the kitchen today with some pork for the grill later. I took a fist full of habs with white vinegar and honey in the blender. Came out really good and fruity. Added to soy and covered the pork roast with for a few hours.

                                Good stuff.

                                Pulled a bit of the marinade out, mixed it with apricot preserves and reduced on the stove... used it as a glaze.

                                Darned good.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: holy chow

                                  This sound fantastic. Pork really goes well with sweet and spicy.

                                  "Added to soy" - In what form?

                                  1. re: GDSinPA

                                    Habs in a blender with vinegar. Once blended, poured in a vessel with a grip of soy. Once meat is on the grill, I took some of the marinade and reduced it with aprioct preserves.

                                    1. re: GDSinPA

                                      by "soy" I think holychow is refering to tamari or shoyu a.k.a. soy sauce
                                      how much a "grip" of that would be . . . well, you're on your own with that
                                      : )
                                      But it's a marinade, so there's plenty of latitude.

                                      1. re: pitu

                                        Yah - that's what I was trying to figure out. I guessed it was soy sauce, but I've seen some marinades that are for whatever reason meant to be thicker, so I thought it might be possible there was soy thickener of some sort going on.

                                        You're right about marinades though - I'll just blend it together till it tastes good!

                                        1. re: pitu

                                          Sorry, I don't know where my measuring cups are. I use a stainless rectangle professional kitchen pan to marinade in. I covered half of the tenderloin with soy "sauce" and then added the vinegar solution.

                                          Up to the half way mark is a grip. Anything under that is just shy of a grip. ;)

                                    2. I had to harvest more of mine so they don't rot on the plant.

                                      I seeded/stemmed 25 red habs and threw them into the FP with maybe 1/2 cup yellow mustard, a handful of cilantro, about 10 allspice berries, 1 cup fresh pineapple, 2T molasses, 1T Penzey's Florida pepper, salt and 1 cup of white vinegar. Whirled away.

                                      It is hot but delicious. My friend loved it as is, but am going to let it sit for a month, then strain some off, adjust seasonings and add some more vinegar and water to make a thinner sauce.