For many people, the rich flavors and aromas of spicy foods are a culinary adventure waiting to be explored. However, for those who have yet to experience the heat of spicy foods, it can be intimidating when you're not sure what to expect and knowing you don't have any tolerance for spicy foods yet.
The truth is... Spice tolerance is an earned skill, and just like any other skill, it takes time, effort, and practice. Building your spice tolerance is totally doable with some patience and practice. So with that in mind, we're going to talk about some tips on how to build your spice tolerance so you can enjoy all the spicy foods your heart desires!
Tip 1: Start Small
If you're new to spicy food, there's no need to dive headfirst into a super-spicy meal or a super HOT hot sauce. Begin with milder flavors and milder hot sauces to start increasing your spice intake gradually. Don't start off with the hottest chile pepper you can find... You'll end up regretting that real fast!
You can try adding a dash of a mild hot sauce or chili flakes to your food, or start by ordering a mild version of a spicy dish at a restaurant. Keep in mind, building up spice tolerance should be done at your own pace, don't overdo it, and try to keep it comfortable.
Tip 2: Get Creative
Challenge yourself to cook with spicy ingredients and experiment with spices such as:
You can also try different chili varieties such as:
These are all milder options so they're good to start off with.
Incorporating these spices into your cooking will help you build your spice tolerance while enjoying new flavors.
Tip 3: Know Your Limits
One of the essential things to remember while building your spice tolerance is to know your limits! Don't push yourself too hard too quickly. Every person has different tolerance levels, so listen to your body and go slowly.
Gradual progression is the best way to increase your tolerance safely. If you feel like your tolerance has hit a plateau, take a break from spicy food and start again later.
Tip 4: Use Acidic Foods
Acidic foods like citrus fruits or vinegar can help counterbalance the heat from spicy foods. It basically can help neutralize the spicy molecule's activity. So adding something acidic to your spicy dish or having it on hand if something turns out to be too hot can help cut the spice.
This trick will make it easier to enjoy your spicy meals without feeling like you need to be constantly chugging something to extinguish the flames going on in your mouth.
Tip 5: Start With Mild Hot Sauces
If you're new to spicy foods, it's best to start with a mild hot sauce. You can find different flavors from various cultures, all of which can have some very unique flavor profiles. Try these out on simple dishes first and gradually increase the amount until you find your ideal spice level.
Once you get accustomed to these flavors, you can move on to spicier hot sauces. There are some crazy HOT sauces out there, so pay attention to the bottles when you go out and buy them.
For a good all-around mild hot sauce that tastes amazing on tacos... We recommend going with the I Love Tacos Hot Sauce!
Tip 6: Use The Scoville Scale
Speaking of finding the right level of heat in hot sauces and peppers, you should familiarize yourself with and understand the Scoville scale. The Scoville scale is a measure of the spiciness of chili peppers, ranging from 0 (no heat) to 16 million units (the hottest pepper in the world).
This way you can roughly know how hot a certain pepper or hot sauce is before you try it. For example, a jalapeño has around 2,500-8,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) while habanero peppers are 150,000-325,000 SHU. Knowing this will help you determine which spicy foods are suitable for your level of spice tolerance.
Tip 7: Know What to Use to Counter Act Heat
When it comes to cooling down the spice in your mouth after eating a spicy dish, reaching for a glass of water or beer might seem like the logical solution... However, this can actually make the situation worse as it will spread the capsaicin throughout your mouth, intensifying the burning sensation.
A better way to counteract the heat is to try some dairy products like milk or yogurt. The fat molecules in these dairy products can help to bind with and neutralize the capsaicin molecules (The stuff in chili peppers that make them hot), which helps to reduce their spiciness.
Tip 8: Understand Food/Flavor Pairings
It's important to understand the science behind flavor pairings when cooking with spicy ingredients. A dish with a complex combination of flavors can be enhanced by adding just the right amount of heat. To make sure that you don't add too much, always taste as you go and adjust accordingly.
Experimenting with different combinations and knowing how to pair hot sauce with food will help you get an idea of how to properly balance out your flavors while still enjoying the heat of your dish.
Ready to Build Up Your Spice Tolerance?
Building your spice tolerance takes time, patience, and practice, but it's definitely worth the effort. With these tips and tricks, you can gradually increase your spice tolerance and open up a world of new and delicious flavors.
Remember to start slow, use certain foods to counterbalance the heat, build your endurance, don't be afraid to experiment, and most importantly, enjoy the journey.
If you guys want some more suggestions or creative ideas on building up your spice tolerance, leave a comment down below and we'll share some more of our favorite tips!