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I made some habanero salsa last night for the first time (my god, was it delicious) and took care to clean everything that was used. I figured I was good when I had no problems taking my contacts out afterwards. So, fast forward to this morning. The slap chop was still out to dry (stop having a boring pepper, stop having a boring life!) so I put it all away aand then found out the hard way when I went to put my contacts in that I did not in fact clean the tools well enough.

So, I've now got a slap chop, 2 knives and a cutting board which all need to be cleaned of the oils. What's the best way to do this? I can throw them all into the dishwasher at once if needed, none of the plastics should melt.

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I used a wooden spoon when making jam, and my batch of pear jam had a surprising bite. Surprising until I remembered that I'd made a killer hot pepper jam a few days before. –  thursdaysgeek Dec 29 '11 at 20:44
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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

You have a few options, including what should have worked. Capsaicin will dissolve in high-proof alcohol, so if you have a bottle of 151 you might have a go with that. Vinegar can also be used to dissolve the oils. These are probably more effort and expenditure than they're worth though.

You were on the right track; soap should have worked. In all likelihood, due to the concentration of the oils you simply did not wash it sufficiently. It requires quite a few passes (especially if the cutting board is porous) of hot, hot water and suds. As it is fat soluble you can try cleaning more thoroughly with most any soap with a de-greasing agent.

Moving forward, I have heard tell of spraying with non-stick spray to ward away the oils. I haven't felt some inordinate compulsion to do this and cannot attest to its efficacy, however with a slap chop and its nook and crannies you may find it a suitable use case.

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lots of soap worked out along with the dishwasher :) Thanks for the help! –  MGZero Dec 30 '11 at 15:19
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Dilute bleach denatures the capsaicin nicely. Mix 1/4 cup bleach with 1 gallon water. Soak your equipment 5 minutes and rinse thoroughly. [insert "standard warnings on using bleach carefully" here].

Unfortunately, @mfg's suggestion of vinegar will not work any better on capsaicin than it would on a stain of vegetable oil. You need something that will either chemically alter the capsaicin molecules (something like bleach) or a strong surfactant (something like Murphy's Oil Soap). Rubbing alcohol is said to work as a surfactant, and I have heard it used on capsaicin, but I have not tried it.

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Surfactants rock where capsaicin removal is involved.
I used to make a very sharp, hot - habanero jelly for the select few around Xmas. I wore gloves to cut 1 kilo of habaneros that I grew in my backyard. After the jelly making was done, all my kitchen instruments were soaked in a dilute solution of vinegar. Once soaked, I ran out of the kitchen (the vapours can be a little strong too). Unfortunately the next day the nerves in my right fore-finger were on fire. My hand protection on the right hand, had a small hole in it. It turns out that habanero juice seeped into that hole...and marinated my finger the whole 4 hours I was chopping away at raw habaeneros. After a week of uncomfortable nerve irritation, I soaked my finger in vinegar...low and behold - relief! Holly

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