Spice challenges seem to be everywhere these days. But what happens when the “heat” from spicy foods is too much? What’s the best spice neutralizer? Most people automatically think of milk. But did you know that peanut butter can be used to neutralize your reaction to spicy foods too? What makes peanut butter the calming, lactose-free, plant-based and shelf-stable antidote to spice? Read on for more about this Nutty Neutralizer.
What Causes the Spicy Fire?
Before we talk about what can calm the heat down, you need to know what causes it. Capsaicin is the chemical compound that makes spicy foods, well, spicy. It is found in chili peppers, with the highest concentration in the seeds. When capsaicin is eaten, the molecule binds to receptors on your tongue that detect temperature changes and pain, causing you to feel the familiar “burn.” Some people are more sensitive to capsaicin than others, but you can train yourself to tolerate the heat over time. And, of course, some people just prefer spicy foods overall. If you’re coaching up your tastebuds, consider keeping a jar of peanut butter close by for those spice emergencies! [source: Unravelling the Mystery of Capsaicin: A Tool to Understand and Treat Pain (nih.gov)]
How Hot Can It Go?
In 1912, American pharmacist Wilber Scoville, created a test to quantify the burn of various peppers. His heat index is still used today and is known as the Scoville Scale. Scoville Heat Units (SHUs), range from 0 to 15 million. For example, banana peppers measure about 100 to 500 SHUs, whereas Carolina reaper peppers can hit more than two million SHUs. How’s that for hot?
What’s the Best Spice Neutralizer?
As a hydrophobic, fat-soluble compound, capsaicin makes food spicy and dissolves in fat and oil, not water. That’s why milk is a well-known option for counteracting spice, but peanut butter is another staple that can be just as effective. And the Nutty Neutralizer is a lactose-free, plant-based and shelf-stable antidote to calming the heat. Bring a small jar anywhere to pull out during a spice crisis.
The Nutty Neutralizer: More Facts about Peanut Butter
- It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter. Click here for more fun peanut and peanut butter facts.
- Peanuts are a legume but fall into the culinary classification of nuts.
- The average shelf life of a jar of unopened peanut butter is between 6 and 9 months. No refrigeration is needed.
- Opened peanut butter can last between 2 and 3 months unrefrigerated or 6 to 9 months in the refrigerator. For more information see our post: How Long Will Peanut Butter Last.
- It takes only 3.2 gallons of water to produce one ounce of peanuts, the lowest of any nut. As a comparison, it takes 28.7 gallons for almonds. For more information see our post on Peanuts and Sustainability.
What are the health benefits of peanuts?
- Peanut butter is a good source of protein, good fats and important nutrients like niacin, vitamin E, folate and fiber.
- Peanuts have more protein than any nut (7g per serving) containing more than 30 essential vitamins and minerals and are a good source of fiber and good fats. Read our article on Peanut Nutrition 101 for more on the goodness of peanuts.
- Hydrogenated fat in peanut butter keeps it from separating at room temperature but don’t fret, these fats aren’t bad for you. Here’s the scoop on hydrogenated fat in peanut butter.
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