Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Capturing the heat

Or how i extract it from peppers.
My initial observations have been that the Capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) is soluble in alcohols, but when washing cut hot peppers in warm to hot water, some of the component is aerosoled and can make breathing a bit difficult.
I have also noted that the chemical formula contained nitrogens and have known that if the soil where you grow your pepper plants is high in nitrogen (think compost here), the heat index of the pepper is higher.
Okay enough  of the chemistry lesson, lets just say that after 38 years as an analytical chemist, i knew what to do.
Now at this point in my life, i am labless and so can only use the tools in the kitchen everyone else can,
otherwise i would have used a Soxhlet Extraction device to do my extraction.

Ingredients:
2 glass jars with a plastic (Teflon is best) cover - you can use plastic, but NOT metal.
Hot Peppers, chopped, not blended
cheesecloth
GLOVES!
Safety glasses
Graves 190 proof (95% ethanol) grain alcohol
funnel 
shallow glass or ceramic bowl
coffee filters
kitchen vent fan
An apron is recommended

For all procedures you must have gloves and glasses on! 
The chopped peppers are put in a jar with enough alcohol to cover them by more than 1 inch.
The jar is shaken and let to sit in a cool dark place for 2 to 3 days, shaking the contents ever 12 or so hours.
This alcohol extract (which should be red) is placed in the refrigerator
This is filtered into the second jar and the peppers placed back in the first jar
Warm (~130 F) water is added to almost cover the peppers and shaken
This is filtered into the shallow bowl, covered with cheese cloth and left in a dark place to dry
(an oven with a pilot light is ideal)
After it is mostly dry (it should still have some liquid, usually 2 days)  The alcohol extract is added to this bowl and allowed to sit another day to dry to the desired concentration.
Place back in the seal-able jar and refrigerate for use.

note everything used should be washed in a strong soap solution and do not touch any sensitive part of the body after!  Unless you used gloves for washing also.