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How Can Limes Neutralize Jalapeno Peppers' Heat?

Eventually, your mouth gets used to the capsaicin that makes peppers hot. Did you know you can neutralize jalapeno heat with lime juice? Find out here!

Did you know that chili peppers originate from Mexico and the equatorial Americas?

They've been a popular ingredient in food and medicine for centuries. There is some evidence that suggests eating hot peppers regularly leads to a longer, healthier life.

If you're a person that enjoys a little spice, chances are you've accidentally over-indulged. Too much pepper in a dish burns your tongue and can make it inedible.

In this article, you'll discover how citrus such as fresh limes can save your mouth and neutralize jalapeno heat.

What Makes Peppers Hot?

Peppers are hot because they contain the chemical alkaline component capsaicin which is an irritant to mammals.

It agitates tissue it comes into contact with creating the sensation of heat, which causes pain. The amount of capsaicin in a chili pepper varies by species and soil conditions. 

A method called High-Performance Liquid Chromatography is used to measure the amount of capsaicin a pepper contains. The units of heat are then rated on the Scoville Scale.

The highest on the scale is pure capsaicin and pepper spray at 16 million units and 5 million units respectively. The least hot on the scale is bell peppers at zero units. 

How Citrus Can Neutralize Jalapeno Pepper Heat

Jalapeno peppers range from moderately spicy to very spicy. Used in tabasco sauce, they are arguably one of the most popular peppers for spice.

Whether you like a little heat or you're up for a challenge, when you're ready for that salsa heat to subside, you need to reach for something acidic. The acid in lemons, limes, and vinegar neutralizes the alkaline in the capsaicin. 

Soak your peppers with a lemon or lime solution for a tasty addition to salsa, soups, or leafy green dishes. Also, try serving spicy foods with a little lemon or lime juice cocktail on the side.

Other Ways to Neutralize Capsaicin

Capsaicin is concentrated in the pepper's seeds and pith. Remove these carefully to cut down on the heat of the final product. After cutting the peppers, rinse them in water to remove some of the capsaicin containing juices.

Some people are more sensitive to the heat than others and experience the burn of the peppers on their hands. Never rub your eyes or face after cutting up peppers—ouch!

Milk and starch products are also great for neutralizing capsaicin. Milk is acidic and its fat content helps to dampen the heat of capsaicin. Starchy foods act more as a buffer or sponge, soaking up and distributing the heat so that it doesn't become unbearable. 

When people wonder how to make salsa less spicy, they often reach for something sweet. Before the Scoville Scale, peppers were measured by how much sugar needed to be added to neutralize the heat.

Many salsas and spaghetti sauces you get from the store contain sugar for flavor balance. For a healthy alternative, make a sweet syrup from pureed dates.

Feel the Pepper Burn

Many food competitions center around how much heat one can take. Invariably, there will be a glass of water at the ready.

To neutralize jalapeno heat, water won't work and can actually make it worse. Reach for fresh lemons and limes every time to kill the burn and get back to enjoying your meal. 

Of course, preparation is key. Keep fresh citrus on hand for homemade lemonade, sorbets, and more!

If you want to have delicious, seasonal citrus fruit right away, join the Craft Citrus Club!

Get a curated box of fresh-harvested citrus fruit from South Texas sent to your door every month!

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