Your eyes are watering, your nose is running excessively…and of course your mouth is experiencing seven pains of hell. Your first instinct is to grab a glass of water to quench the burn, but it’s no use! So why?
Capsaicin the chemical responsible for the burn in chilli is hydrophobic. In essence what it means is that it cannot breakdown in water, but it can easily dissolve in fats and oils. This explains why milk is traditionally the best way to put a stop to the face melting burn.
But where exactly does the capsaicin reside in a chilli pepper?
This is where the seeds of the plant are attached to the top of the pod. It is also known as the pith. This part of the plant is where most of the capsaicin in the chilli pepper fruit resides (it contains 89% of the alkaloid capsaicin).
If you want to lessen the heat of a chilli, this small band is the part that you want to remove as it contains a concentrated amount of capsaicin, which is what produces the burning sensation.
The seeds within the chilli pod are the reproductive part of the plant. Contrary to widespread myth, they are NOT the main source of the heat in chilli peppers as they are relatively low in capsaicin compared to the placenta.
Article written by Judy Smith