Country Living Series

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Why I'll never be a master food preserver...

Reader Becky sent this to me. "I thought you might like a laugh," she wrote. "This was a recap of a recent dehydration attempt. I neither confirm nor deny that I was the main perpetrator."

I laughed so hard upon reading the email that my younger daughter asked what was so funny. Then SHE read the email and started laughing. "Tell her I totally relate," said my hot-pepper-loving daughter.

So, for your edification, here are Becky's thoughts on how NOT to do food preservation.

The events surrounding the dehydration of 20 quarts of assorted hot peppers. Names have not been used to protect the naive.

• Clean work area. Set up bowl, dehydration screens, washed peppers.

• Set mp3 player and put in earbuds

• Put on disposable gloves and begin seeding peppers, placing seeded halves on trays

• When earbud falls out, nonchalantly place earbud back in place

• A few minutes later, realized DANG there was hot pepper stuff on the earbud and the ear canal is swelling shut.

• Flush ear, when it doesn't work call Mom (moms know everything). Except in this case where the only suggestion was cramming sour cream in my ear. At least they were nice enough to not laugh until I hung up

• Carefully remove disposable gloves, jump in shower to flush ear

• Move hair out of face

• Two seconds later realize that, despite the care taken, hot pepper stuff IS on your hands and your eyes are on fire

• Scream to Dear Daughter for help. No answer, bang on wall and yell for help again

• Wish, quite loudly, that you had instead given birth to Lassi -- she would have been able to grab you a towel or washcloth or something

• Get eye pain under control enough to find the towel and stumble out of the shower

• Bathe eyes with milk on a washcloth

• Growl when Dear Daughter finally shows up and asks why you're putting milk-soaked Q-tips in your ears...


  1. Some years back I purchased a bottle of pickled Jalepenos. I decided to cut off the tops and deseed them all before placing them back in the jar so I could more easily use them when I made a sandwich. I didn't wear gloves and I used my fingers to clean out the seeds. Seemed quite natural to me. My fingers were deadly for about a week. Touch either my eyes or lips brought pain.

    But the good news is I used the seeds and tops from the peppers to get rid of a large ant hill. Placed them on top and a few days later the ants had closed up shop never to be seen again.

  2. Oh my goodness! Love your story. Can't stop laughing.

  3. Ha, now that really is funny. I once sat on a fire ant hill when weeding the garden. I had the hotest tail in town!!!

  4. If you never again posted, really good, useful information. I would read your blog. Totally funny.
    You are a treat.

  5. I'm not sure what happened while I was posting the computer went blank and returned. If you get the first post, please disregard, I wasn't finished posting.
    It's funny reading this story but not to funny if you're on the other end experiencing the heat in your ear and eyes. Next time, if you decide to work on peppers concentrate of what your doing and your hands.

  6. Oh my gosh I can relate! I was cleaning peppers, washed my hands to blow my nose, washed after and started chopping peppers.....within minutes my sinus were on FIRE! I will say, I've not had them so clear since!
    The worst of it? I had to go potty and was afraid to

  7. lol, i do not know anyone who has not had some small experience with hot peppers...including myself...that is why we laugh!

  8. MICHAEL DEAN MILLEROctober 9, 2012 at 5:32 PM


    Guilty. I was making fresh chili and whilst hackin' up the jalapenos, Ol' Mikey here just went and scratched an itch near my eyelid then all Hell burned out my vision, I was cryin' and blubbering with runny-nose-glop, visions of dead relatives and audio-flashbacks of Robert Duvall expressing love for the smell of napalm in the morning. Eventually, I recovered.
    I DO respect the chili-peppers of all sorts, now.


  9. I can soooo relate. First time I cut hot peppers to help my husband (early in our marriage,surprise we survived this one :-) I didn't know to wear gloves or to wash my hands REALLY REALLY good when finished. I touched my cheek. Within a few minutes that side of my face was on fire, my eyes were watering and hurt so much I couldn't hardly keep them open. BAKING SODA to the rescue!!!!! I made a paste and put it on the area. It was almost instead relief. Needless to say, I don't touch hot peppers with my bare hands anymore.

    Loved the story.

  10. Wow - I'm embarrassed to say this sounds like something I would do. I so feel for poor Becky! But, I must confess, I truly laughed out loud when I read this. Great post!

  11. My aunt has a worse story, only she got her husband! My aunt was chopping peppers, when done, she washed her hands and dried them. Unsuspecting uncle comes in, rinses his hands and dries them on the same towel. Then he needs a potty break. Pepper juice on a towel CAN transfer and cause extreme distress! The poor guy!

  12. I made some cayenne tincture a several years back. I wasn't pepper savvy then. I strained it without putting on gloves and I got some on my hand. Never again will I make that mistake! I think the vodka might have made it penetrate worse. I couldn't find anything to relieve it. I was walking around like the sheriff in the Apple Dumpling Gang. I think I went to bed with an icepack on my hand.

  13. A friend gave me a gallon bag of jalepenos. My plan was to do a small dice and freeze them until I could get tomatoes, etc. for salsa. I was almost finished when my left hand started to feel funny. I tried scrubbing up several times, milk soak, ice. It just kept getting worse. I finally got to sleep with a towel and ice bag wrap, and didn't recover until the next afternoon. Between your friend's story and the comments here, my laugh muscles are all exercied now.

    brenda from ar

  14. my sister would forget to put gloves on when picking the hot peppers. She used wet teabags to control the heat on her hands. Tannic acid in the tea helps