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  1. Cooking

From the food editor: a warning about working with peppers

This is a tale of how I spent six hours soaking my hands in a bowl of ice water thanks to a stuffed pepper craving.

I didn't expect this to happen. Just a week before, I had cooked a stuffed poblano pepper recipe from the meal delivery service Blue Apron. The method was standard: Char peppers, split peppers in half, scoop seeds and innards out, stuff with goodness. Everything went according to plan, and in less than 30 minutes my boyfriend and I were enjoying dinner.

Second time definitely not a charm. Inspired by that first delicious meal, I made this week's #CookClub recipe a few weeks ago. Same premise, slightly different filling recipe: Char, split, scoop, stuff. Except this time, just after I pulled the peppers out of the oven, my hands started to tingle. Three hours later, they wouldn't stop burning, despite multiple hand washings and attempts to coat them in olive oil, Greek yogurt — anything the Internet suggested to get rid of stinging pepper heat.

Turns out, I had stumbled on a spicy poblano pepper, which are usually sweet, nutty and mild. Apparently some of them can pack a wallop. Pepper seeds contain a substance called capsaicin, which is what gives them their heat. (It's also what is used to make pepper spray.) When that comes into contact with your skin, the result is a burning hot mess that tends to not go away for hours.

I made a crucial mistake when preparing my stuffed peppers: I used my bare hands instead of a spoon or a gloved hand. (In my defense, that poblano sneaked up on me with its spice factor.) Learn from my mishaps, fellow cooks, and always don gloves when scooping out pepper seeds, and especially when working with hot peppers like chile peppers. Wash your hands immediately after handling them, and whatever you do, don't put your hands anywhere near your eyes.

And if you're wondering how the stuffed peppers were, I'm happy to report that the next day, after the burning had worn off, I enjoyed them greatly for dinner.

Contact Michelle Stark at mstark@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8829. Follow @mstark17 on Twitter.

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