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How to cool down spicy food

How To Cool Down Spicy Food

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If you’re travelling through Mexico then you’re going to need to learn how to deal with spicy food. Spicy chilli is what authentic Mexican food is all about, and the chances are it won’t be long before a hidden habanero gets you! But don’t worry its all part of ‘the experience’ and if you follow our simple guide, when the time comes to extinguish a spicy food oral or stomach inferno you’ll be ship shape and ready for one of your next taco recipes in no time! So here it is, our guide on how to cool down spicy food and prevent that burning mouth!

How To Cool Down Spicy Food

1. Add Dairy To The Dish

The fiery chemical in hot chillies, capsaicin, likes to bind itself onto a compound in milk, which neutralizes the burn. Add a generous dollop of sour cream, creme fraiche, yogurt, or even a touch of milk or cream to spicy foods. For best results, though, go with full-fat dairy. Beware of adding and then cooking the dairy over a higher heat, as it may curdle.

How to cool down spicy food

2. Serve With Starchy Foods

These include raw bread, bland boiled rice and boiled potatoes. Starch provides a natural barrier between capsaicin and your mouth, absorbing some of it in the process. Therefore, these are the best sides to eat with spicy food. 

3. Add Acid

Acidic ingredients such as lemon or lime juice, vinegar, wine, tomatoes, and even pineapple will all help to neutralize the pH levels of spicy oil, and reduce some of that flaming-hot flavour

4. Add Sweetner

It’s well known that a tablespoon of sugar, palm sugar or honey, stirred in can help take the edge off really spicy dishes.

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how to cool down spicy food

5. Go Nuts!

Adding a tablespoon of nut butter, such as peanut, almond or cashew to your spicy food will help to smother the flames. Tahini is another option. It will mellow things out and you may even love the creamy extra flavour that comes with it.

6. Add More Ingredients

Finally, and probably the most obvious way to tone down a dish that’s too spicy is to add more ingredients! It will simply dilute the spicy element. So try adding more liquid to your soup or stew, or more veg/protein/starchy carbs. 

How To Neutralize Spicy Food In Mouth 

1. Don’t Drink Water

how to cool down spicy food

Capsaicin (the spicy chemical in chillies) is insoluble in water. This means that a large slug of water will do nothing to help you recover.  If it’s relief you’re after, leave water alone, as it won’t help you recover from spicy food. 

2. Drink Milk Or Any Other Dairy

How to cool down spicy food

Milk and other dairy contain a protein called casein which dissolves the burn-inducing capsaicin molecules that bind to your tongue when eating chilli. Drink a cold glass of cow’s milk and be sure to swirl it around in your mouth before you swallow it.

3. Drink Lots Of Beer

The good news is that as well as chilli peppers, the other thing Mexico has in great abundance is great-tasting beer. Unlike water, capsaicin is soluble in alcohol and the pain is simply washed away. If you’re in a lot of pain, try a stronger alcoholic drink such a tequila or Mezcal.

How to cool down spicy food
Chipotle Salsa

4. Eat Something Greasy

Unlike water, capsaicin is soluble in oil meaning that anything greasy is a great cure to cool down spicy food. If you’re in Mexico, your suffering would be a great excuse to try a Queso Fundido! Otherwise, swirl a spoon full of vegetable oil around your mouth and spit it out. I think we prefer the first option..

Nacho Cheese Sauce

5. Rice, Bread & Other Starchy Foods

This one is more of a sponge than a detergent. It won’t dissolve the pain-causing capsaicin molecules found in spicy foods, but it will pick many of them up. 

6. Sugar

The Scoville heat scale, used to measure the heat of chillies, was originally conceived based on the amount of sugar water needed to dilute a given chilli. Stir a spoonful of sugar into a small glass of water, or head to the pantry and put half a teaspoon of sugar or honey on your tongue. Other alternatives include sucking on a sugar cube, or even combining a few of the above and stirring some honey into a White Russian!

7. Classic Remedies/Old Wives Tales

Most of the weird and wonderful advice given to remedy the painful effects of eating chilli are based on the proven science outlined above. However, how to neutralise spicy food in terms of home remedies or old wives tales? Here are just a handful of them. Touch the burn with: cucumber, ice cream, banana, toothpaste, lemon/lime juice, or chocolate.

How to recover from spicy food

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We hope that you found this blog on how to cool down a spicy dish useful, and now are armed with the knowledge of everything you’ll need to know on your travels, restaurant visits, or just spicy home cooking experiments! Please leave your comments below, especially any other tried and tested tips that you’d like to share on how to deal with spicy food.

For more on chillies and other blogs please see:

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Mercy Arhin
Mercy Arhin
1 year ago

It’s a very, helpful educative information. Please keep it up and never give up. Thank you for your time and help.

Celia - Chica Chismosa - Gran Luchito
1 year ago
Reply to  Mercy Arhin

So pleased you found it useful! This is a popular post, and we have some new imagery coming soon!

7 months ago

Thank you for the information i ate spicy nuts and after 2hrs of eating it i had a stomach ache

Last edited 7 months ago by Juan
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