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Smithy

Heat in Peppers

4 posts in this topic

I was taught years ago that most of the "heat" in hot peppers is in the seeds, and that one can reduce the heat somewhat by leaving the seeds out of a dish. That has matched my experience: after blistering my tongue when I sauteed just a few chili pepper seeds in oil and then cooked with the oil, I learned to saute just a few sections of the pepper itself. Recently I read somewhere (probably on EGullet) that this isn't true, along with an implication that it's been debunked for some time. Have I been living under a rock all this time?

Where's the heat?


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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There is indeed heat on the seeds, but it didn’t originate there. The capsaicin in chillis is produced and stored in glands on the placenta, the inner pithy structure that supports the seeds. But any manipulation of the chilli breaks the glands and douses the seeds with capsaicin. So most of the heat is in the pith, but there’s always some—and sometimes a lot—on the seeds.

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There is indeed heat on the seeds, but it didn’t originate there. The capsaicin in chillis is produced and stored in glands on the placenta, the inner pithy structure that supports the seeds. But any manipulation of the chilli breaks the glands and douses the seeds with capsaicin. So most of the heat is in the pith, but there’s always some—and sometimes a lot—on the seeds.

If I understand you correctly, you are saying that if you remove the pith and the seeds, then rinse the chile, it will be less hot than if you'd chopped it whole?

PS Thank you for joining us on eGullet.

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Yes. It's hard to do the dissection without damaging the glands and spreading capsaicin on the inner walls. And rinsing isn't going to remove much capsaicin, which is more oil-soluble than water-soluble. Oil or alcohol (or soapy water) would remove more. But taking the pith and seeds out of the dish will definitely tone it down.

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