Spice It Up a Little

Posted by Alayne Gardner-Carimi on

Some Like it Hot

If your routine in the kitchen has become dull, maybe it’s time to add spice to your food. Different kinds of peppers and other spices have different flavor profiles and heat profiles to add depth and complexity to many recipes. Whether you crave a subtle tingling sensation or a fiery explosion, incorporating these spices into your cooking repertoire can transform ordinary dishes into extraordinary culinary adventures.  

At vomFASS Madison we have several infused oils to add some spice to your life. No need to buy peppers out of season! Perfectly preserving pepper flavors in artisanal oils  allows you to have them on hand year-round. A bottle of infused oil lets you add flavor to your dishes easily without any extra preparation, and makes it easy to control the intensity of the heat.You can drizzle it over salads, pasta, pizza, grilled meats, or roasted vegetables to add flavor and moisture. It can also be used as a base for salad dressings, marinades, or dipping sauces (see recipes below or online). 

If you are going for a robust oil that can handle the heat as well as dish it out, our Chili Oil is just for you! Our Chili Oil starts with a special high-oleic sunflower oil, infused with the subtle heat of chilies. It displays a sweet, fruity aroma and is ideal for frying, grilling, and roasting. Our Red Pepper Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a complex combination of bright, fruity flavor with a subtle sharpness and heat. It's the perfect finishing oil for pizza, pasta, and vegetable dishes. Our Jalapeño Extra Virgin Olive Oil brings a nuanced finish of vegetal, grass and fruit flavors with a light, front-of-the-mouth kind of heat that makes it an excellent addition to marinades, as a finish on guacamole or bean dip, and as an exciting combination with Blueberry Balsamic Star for green salads. 

Why Some Do Not

First off, what makes hot sauce spicy? The simple answer is capsaicin, a compound found in the seeds and membranes of chili peppers.  Why do some people love spicy food and others can’t handle the heat at all? Part of it may be cultural, and another may be genetics. Studies have found that exposure to spicy foods can play a role in developing a tolerance to its heat. Research has also shown that people vary in the number and sensitivity of the receptors that are triggered when they come into contact with capsaicin.

When we eat food with capsaicin, it binds to the receptors on our taste buds that are responsible for detecting heat. This creates a sensation of heat, which can range from mild to extremely intense, depending on the concentration of capsaicin (and the number of receptors one has). Interestingly, while capsaicin creates a feeling of heat, it doesn't actually raise the temperature in your mouth. Instead, it tricks your brain into thinking that your mouth is hotter than it really is. 

Beating the "Heat"

If you're looking to spice up a recipe, begin by pacing yourself. Start by adding just a teaspoon or so of one of the vomFASS spicy oils and balance the rest with a more neutral Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grape Seed, or Sunflower oil. Take small bites or sips at first so your taste buds can adjust accordingly

DO NOT: gulp water, soda, or beer! (In fact, carbonated drinks will only intensify the heat). Capsaicin is fat soluble, and you’ll just be spreading it around, igniting new receptors.

DO: According to research, to neutralize the capsaicin you should eat or drink something acidic to give you some relief from the burning sensations. Things like lemonade, orange juice or a tomato-based item. If you’re a milk lover, you’ll be happy to know that milk is also acidic.

Another option is to reach for some carbs. Bread, rice, or potatoes can help absorb some of the spiciness in your mouth and provide a more neutral flavor.  This method may not be as effective as consuming acidic or dairy products, but it is worth a shot.

So, if you need some relief from a spicy food or hot sauce, try consuming:

Acidic foods:
• Lemonade 
• Limeade 
• Orange juice
• Tomato-based foods and drinks 
• Milk 
• Bread/crackers 
• Rice 
• Potatoes  

Some research has suggested that capsaicin may have a number of health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and pain. Of course, like with any food, moderation is key. If you’re a fan of the hot stuff, enjoy it as part of a balanced diet.

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