I make mild hot sauces and remove the seeds to reduce a lot of the heat. I know, it kind of nulls the point of making a hot sauce if you are removing what makes a hot pepper what it is known for, but I cannot handle the heat anymore. When making smaller amounts of sauce I can cut the seeds out with a paring knife, but I have now begun to make more sauce and don’t want to hand cut the seeds from 500 jalapenos.
To remove the seeds from hot peppers you can cut them out with a knife, use a handheld seed corer or purchase a machine designed and built to remove seeds efficiently. Seeds can also be extracted by blending them in water on a low speed and letting the seeds sink to the bottom.
I could certainly leave the seeds in and reduce the amount of heat by another method, but I want the fullest hot pepper flavor I can get for my sauce. The seeds don’t contribute that much to the overall flavor and they can also be on the bitter side. I have noticed through simple taste tests that leaving the seeds out reduces the heat immensely and it then becomes a milder sauce I can enjoy.
Most hot pepper seeds are OK to eat and will not have any adverse effects on your health. They can be blended together with the pith and the wall of the peppers. That’s easy enough, but removing the seeds keeps the rich bold flavor of the peppers without the intolerable heat, especially if you are using anything over 10,000 SHU.
Seed and pepper weight ratio
Removing seed from hot peppers can take a lot of time if you are removing them by hand and can also contribute to a lot of the weight of the pepper. Each jalapeno that I weighed was an average of .7 ounces or 1.5 oz for two and the seeds (from 2 peppers) were .1 ounces. That’s only about 8% of the overall weight but if you have 100 lbs of peppers that is a lot of weight in peppers (seeds) that you paid for and are not using in your sauce. Eight (8) pounds to be exact. If you plan on mass producing hot sauce you may want to plan on keeping them in.
This is the point where a decision on what is more important in your sauce; the level of heat in the sauce, the amount of time you are spending separating seeds or the amount of waste removing the seeds makes. I don’t like waste but there is not much that can be done with the stems. However, obviously seeds can be planted and grown to produce more peppers.
How to remove seeds from hot peppers
1. Knife and cutting board
Cut the stem off and cut the pepper in half lengthwise. This will expose the seeds and allow you to “see” what you are cutting out. A small paring knife with about a 3” blade works best because most varieties of hot peppers are small. Peppers such as cayenne will need delicate control of the knife to scrape out the seeds and this can be time consuming if you are making a lot of sauce.
Why use a knife if a corer is faster?
A knife will give you more control and this will allow you to keep much of the pith instead of scraping it out like a corer may do. They are called hot peppers for a reason so you will want to keep SOME of the heat in. You can certainly remove ALL of the heat from a pepper but why bother, just use a variety that is low in heat if you cannot tolerate it.
Some peppers such as the cayenne mentioned above are very thin and may be too small for handheld coring tools. If you are comfortable slicing fruits and vegetables then the task of removing the seeds from hot peppers with a knife may be very easy for you, or try another method.
2. Handheld seed removing tools
There are many variations of this handheld seed removing tool and it will increase the speed of your production, but it is still a utensil that require you to handle every pepper. Some of these tools will also remove the pith of the peppers as well and this holds much of the heat of the pepper.
Stainless steel utensils will hold up better than plastic but will often be a little more expensive. In this case there is only a few dollars difference. This is not a review of every type of hot peppers corer but simply an overview of the different products that are available.
|NorPro Grip-EZ Jalapeno Corer. There are many similar utensils like this one. Simple to use. There is probably hundreds of variations of this product. Get one here from Amazon.|
|Zyliss 2 in 1 Corer. This tool is for larger peppers such as bell but has a smaller attachment for hot pepper varieties such as jalapeno. Made with plastic but dishwasher safe. Link to Amazon here.|
|Stainless Steel Jalapeno Corer. Set of two from Amazon. Easy grip rubber handle. Stainless steel blade. This is the most basic of seed removing tools…but it works. Get em here!|
|Progressive seed and stem remover. I have read mixed reviews on this product. Another hand held device. Get one today.|
|Insta Corer Electric Vegetable Corer. I like the idea of not having to do too much work. This saves on the back and forth motion that puts stress on a wrist. Get one direct from Amazon!|
|Chili Twister Corer. 2 different sizes for different sized peppers. This tool uses a different motion of the hands. Another product link here from Amazon.|
3. Drying peppers and removing seeds
Seeds can be removed from hot peppers once the peppers has dried for a few weeks in a warm and dry location. Leave the stems on and find a location with plenty of air flow and make sure they are spread out, not piled up. The seed will rattle inside of the dried peppers once it has dried out.
Hold onto the stem, cut the peppers open and shake it into a container to release the seeds. There is still some handling of the peppers, but not as much precise removal of seeds as is needed with a knife. Delicate, repeated motions with the hands can have long term adverse effects on how your hands function. Keep these seeds to grow and reproduce more peppers.
4. Seeds will sink in water
Remove the stems and put the peppers in a blender with some water. Fill the blender to its capacity with water but only add a handful of the peppers and blend on slow for a few minutes. Don’t overload the blender with peppers because you are not blending to make sauce. This process is intended to cut open the peppers to expose the seeds and allow them to sink to the bottom. You will start to see the seeds sink to the bottom and pepper pieces float to the top.
Avoid blending at high speeds until the peppers turn into a mash. This is difficult to do with a one speed blender but using a variable speed blender at a low speed will allow the peppers to be cut open and the seeds to sink to the bottom.
Scoop the chopped peppers from the top where they are floating. There may be some seeds floating as well. These are seed that are “bad” and will not sprout or grow. The seeds that have sunk can be used to grow pepper plants.
5. Commercial pepper seed remover
Commercial seed removing machines can range in size and pricing depending on the amount of peppers you plan on deseeding. Purchasing a piece of equipment this size will take a commitment to removing the seeds from your hot sauce recipe.
Prototypes for these type of machines were invented before the 1960’s and have refined techniques to be very productive. Today machines of this size are used to extract the seeds for the purpose of growing more peppers.
Costs can range anywhere between $800 to $1,200 for equipment on the low end and $2,000 or more for mass producing equipment. High end commercial equipment for mass removal of seeds could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Purchasing any large piece of equipment for your kitchen can get expensive but often you can find slightly used equipment at very affordable prices. Used equipment can keep start up costs down and allow for expenses in other areas.
What do the seeds taste like?
The seeds will have a slightly different flavor than the rest of the peppers and will certainly pack a lot of heat. The level of heat from the seeds is greater than the level of heat from the hot peppers. Many seeds from fruits and vegetables can offer health benefits such as providing protein but there is very little research indicating that hot seeds do.
The seeds in some of my hot sauce recipes are blended into the sauce so that you cannot see them or are very small pieces. This is common practice and does not alter the taste much. Some hot sauces feature the seeds and they can be typical in a homemade sauce.
What to do with seeds?
Growing seeds that you have extracted from chilis is the most obvious thing to do. If you do not own or lease land perhaps there is a co op where you can volunteer, and they can help grow the peppers. Seeds can be package for sale but they typically only cost $1.00 to $3.00 a packet so use an efficient method of removing them to get the most return on your efforts.
Reasons for removing seeds
However rare they are, there may be allergies to some types of seeds. Spicy foods have been known to cause allergic reactions and some seeds to include sesame seeds and caraway seeds can as well. Other seed such as sunflower and poppy have been known to cause anaphylaxis.
The real flavor of the hot pepper comes from the wall and pith or ribs and not the seeds. The seeds can be blended smooth together with the rest of the pepper but don’t contribute or take away from much of the flavor.
If not blended completely the seeds could float throughout the sauce. This is a common occurrence in a homemade sauce. Most blenders will be able to chop the peppers and get them blended into the sauce along with the other ingredients or perhaps your sauce will want them to be noticeable. Some very small seeds will be difficult to blend if they are not grinded first.
As stated at the beginning of this article removing the seeds to reduce the amount of heat can allow flavor to come through. Even the seeds of some peppers low on the Scoville scale with have some level of capsaicin in them.
I have been gardening for years and growing my own hot peppers for the use of making hot sauce at a low expense. If you have a variety of pepper that you use for a special sauce extract the seeds ad grow more.
Removing seed from hot peppers to make hot sauce is not necessary. The seeds are edible and can be blended in with the sauce. They provide little nutrients, but it is much easier to leave them out then the cost and effort that it takes to remove them.