We are only a few weeks away from our 19th season of Habanero Pizzas! August will be here before you know it, so now’s a good time to start talking about safety.
Before you embark on the fiery habanero journey, there are a few things to keep in mind. In addition to the random advice and wives’ tales about ways to reduce the burn, there are actually some factual methods to increasing your enjoyment… or, should we say decreasing the pain?
1. Start “training” now! Eating fresh jalapenos and other chili peppers can help you build up a tolerance to the capsaicin so you’ll be ready to face our habaneros in August. We offer fresh jals for our pizzas year-round, and they are already starting to get a little hotter (peppers get hotter through the season – we even notice the habs getting hotter as the end of the month rolls around at the end of Habanero season).
2.When the time comes, and you are sitting at a table facing a slice of Habanero Pizza, make sure you cut and eat your habanero pizza with a fork.
A. If you pick up the slice of pizza, you’ll get some the pepper oils on your fingers, which can then easily spread to your eyes and nose when you later try to wipe away the sweat and tears from your face. Your eyes and nose will burn furiously if you touch them with even the tiniest bit of pepper oil on your fingers.
B. The other reason to use a fork is that you can more easily get the entire bite in your mouth without it touching your lips. Your mouth, throat, and stomach will all be on fire – there’s no need to have your lips on fire too. Once the oils start to spread around your lips, there’s not much you can do besides spread ice cream around your face to help soothe the burn.
3. Beer can make some folks feel a bit braver than they would be otherwise, and sometimes a shot of bravery can come in handy when facing a slice of habanero-drenched pizza. Other than that, beer really doesn’t help put out the fire. It tastes great, it can help dislodge some peppers from your teeth and move them along their merry way, but it doesn’t help quench the burning.
4. Milk and ice cream are both excellent for counteracting the infamous capsaicin in the peppers that builds the fire. Even if milk or ice cream normally gives you intestinal woes, you might not even notice because of the insanity that comes about a day after the habanero, so it might be worth it to go ahead and reach for a pint of cold milk to wash down your hab bites.
5.Avoid drinking water to cool the heat – it just ends up dispersing the oils around your mouth instead of neutralizing them.
6. Cold breadsticks are really effective to help “scrub” out the oils from your mouth. And it gives your stomach something normal to digest along with all the fire. (Cold, meaning not piping hot out of the oven. The last thing you need is oven-hot burning on top of the pepper-hot).
7. And when you are done with your habanero pizza, GO WASH YOUR HANDS. And then wash them again. Make sure that your hands are thoroughly cleaned of habanero pepper oils before you go to the bathroom. There’s no amount of ice cream that will help you if you don’t.