September 18th, 2017

Chile Pepper 101

Posted in Educational

An Introduction to Chile Peppers

Chile Peppers

Let’s kick this right off by covering a little spelling and grammar. Chile, the proper noun, is a South American country that lies between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Chili (notice the “i” on the end), is a stew made of peppers, meat, sometimes tomatoes, and depending on the side of the argument you’re on, beans. Finally, a chile, is a fruit of the plant from the Genus capsicum. There, I’m glad we cleared that up.

Now we can talk about chile peppers and all their glory. Recently, we posted a blog titled “Hot Sauce 101”, which was, as the title suggested, an intro to how hot sauce is made. So, we thought it would be appropriate to post a “Chile Pepper 101,” discussing the finer points of this wonderful fruit.

Chile

Chiles are native to the New World and were originally dubbed “peppers” by Christopher Columbus, however they are unrelated to peppercorns. Chile peppers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and they get their heat from capsaicin, a chemical stored in the plant’s placental ribs.┬áHot, dry conditions yield peppers higher in capsaicin, and as a rule of thumb the smaller the pepper the hotter it is.

Chile pepper scoville

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/scoville-scale-for-spicy-food-2013-11

The heat of capsaicin is commonly measured on the Scoville Scale (developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912), a subjective rating designed to measure the perception of capsaicin in chiles. The scale ranges from 0 (bell pepper) to 16,000,000 (pure capsaicin). The higher the number, the hotter the pepper.

Asian, Indian, Latin American, and Mexican cuisines rely heavily on chileschili peppers, which makes sense considering the climates of these countries. They can be used fresh, whole, chopped, stuffed, roasted, dried, ground, re-hydrated, pickled, or pureed. They are versatile in heat, flavor, and application.

A word of caution. When working with chiles, especially the hotter ones, be sure to wear gloves. The last thing you want to do is rub your eyes (or a more sensitive area…) after dicing up a fresh habanero. I can promise you, that does not end well.

Thanks for reading along, now go forth and eat!

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September 4th, 2017

Chef Tip – Thermometer Calibration

Posted in Tips

Re-calibrate Your Stem Thermometer

Cooking Tips

No matter if you’re a professional chef, or a home cook, more than likely you’re using a stem thermometer once in a while (especially on your chicken I hope…). They’re inexpensive, accurate, and compact. Plus, they don’t need batteries!

But ask yourself, when’s the last time you calibrated your thermometer? Have you ever?

Well, if not, or if you just need a refresher, it’s an important task to ensure you’re getting an accurate reading on your foods. They should be calibrated weekly and always after being dropped.

Let’s take a look at how to effectively calibrate your stem thermometer.

  1. In a perpendicular fashion, insert the stem of the thermometer into the hex shaped hole on the end of the pocket case.

  2. Fill and glass with crushed ice. Add cold tap water until the glass is full. Insert the thermometer stem into the center of the glass, using the pocket case as a rest.
    • Note: Try to prevent the stem from touching the bottom or sides of the glass. This could slightly effect the reading due to the variation of ambient temperatures.
  3. Allow the stem to rest submerged until the needles has fully stabilized. This could take up to a minute. At this point, turn the head of the thermometer against the walls of the hex mount in the pocket case in order to move the needle. Turn either left or right until the needle is on 32*F (0*C).

    Thermometer diagram

  4. To double check the accuracy, follow the same procedure except with a pot of boiling water. The temperature should read 212*F (100*C).
    • Note: Water boils at 212*F (100*C) at sea level. Areas of high elevation will have a lower boiling point. For more information on this subject see the USDA guide on High Altitude Cooking and Food Safety.

That’s it! Now you can rest assured that you’re serving safe, perfectly cooked food to your family, friends, and/or customers.

Thanks for reading along, now go out and eat some food!

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