We’ve all been there — you added a few too many jalapenos to your favorite chili recipe and suddenly your dinner is too spicy to eat. Luckily, you can add a few ingredients to your dish as it cooks to combat some of that scorching heat. Jalapeno peppers get their heat from capsaicin oil, which can be neutralized using the right ingredients.
Dairy products contain a protein called casein that neutralizes the spicy capsaicin oil present in hot peppers. Cultured dairy products like yogurt, buttermilk and sour cream are more effective than milk or cream. Coconut milk or coconut cream will also work. Once your dish has finished cooking, mix in a small amount of dairy. Taste the dish and if it’s still too spicy, add more.
Capsaicin oil is acid-soluble, meaning it can dissolve into acids. Pour a little freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice into your dish. A good quality vinegar, like balsamic or white wine vinegar, can also neutralize the spicy oil and can even complement certain dishes.
Sugar and other sweeteners are also helpful in neutralizing the spiciness of jalapenos. Proceed with caution, however, because too much sweetness can negatively affect the flavor of the dish. Stir in a small spoonful of sugar, honey or agave nectar. Taste the dish before adding any more sweetener.
Roasting works if you haven’t yet added the jalapenos to your dish. Roasting hot peppers gives them a smoky flavor and brings out sweet notes, while reducing the spicy flavors. Simply place your jalapenos on a baking sheet and place them under the broiler. Turn the peppers with tongs until they become blackened and blistered on all sides. Place the peppers in a bowl covered with plastic wrap for about 20 minutes. Peel the blackened skin off the peppers, cut them in half and allow the liquid to seep out. You can now use the peppers according to your recipe.
References and ResourcesAmerican Heart Association: Cooking with Peppers
Chili Recipes: Too Much Hot Peppers or Chili? Here's How to Tone It Down.
India Curry: How to Reduce Heat of Chili Pepper