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Last Updated on February 17, 2017 by Diane Hoffmaster
With the garden overflowing with hot peppers, I find myself looking for as many cayenne pepper uses as I can come up with. Looking at the number of hot peppers I use in my kitchen nowadays, I am amazed at the fact that I had never even seen one until I was in my 20's. I grew up in New England on baked beans and pot roast. It was certainly tasty food but definitely not what I would call spicy. When I decided to follow my boyfriend (now husband) down to Houston, Texas I had no idea what I was getting myself into in terms of food. All of a sudden I was overwhelmed with new and flavorful recipes that I had never tried before! Cajun influences like gumbo and etouffee, international delicacies, alligator on a stick and peppers which were definitely NOT the sweet bell peppers I had grown up on! I developed a serious love affair with stuffed jalapenos and quickly learned that REAL Texas chili does NOT contain beans but has so much cayenne pepper you will think you are breathing fire! There are certainly a lot of benefits to using cayenne pepper but you need to get used to it a bit before you can really enjoy it! I am going to include a few ideas and affiliate links below that you might find helpful.
Cayenne Pepper Uses and Benefits Beyond the Kitchen
Cayenne pepper pods are dried and ground to a fine powder, which is what you buy from the grocery store in those tiny glass spice jars. If you live in a warm enough climate they are easy to grow in full sun and can be dried and ground at home much cheaper! Cayenne pepper has an amazing number of suggested health benefits. It increases metabolism, improves circulation, aids in the digestion and elimination of food, and is a natural anti-inflammatory. They are also high in Vitamins A, C, B complex, calcium and potassium. While adding heat to your recipes is a great way to improve flavor, cayenne pepper has many other uses as well. Here are a few ways to incorporate Cayenne pepper into your diet without just increasing the heat of tonight's dinner recipe. If you have FRESH hot peppers and need dry cayenne pepper powder, dry them in a dehydrator first, then put the dried peppers through a food processor. Be careful to do this in a well ventilated area and turn your head away or you will be inhaling hot peppers which is not a pleasant experience!
1. Stop animals from digging in your garden: One of the first cayenne pepper uses I ever learned was to stop dogs from digging in the yard. When we got our puppy a couple of years ago it was right during planting season. Every plant I put IN the ground, she promptly dug right up! Then I started sprinkling newly planted areas with cayenne pepper and she quickly learned to look elsewhere for her entertainment.
2. Keep squirrels out of the bird feeder: According to research, birds are immune to the heat of chili peppers, while mammals are not. Add some cayenne pepper to your seed and you will ensure that the birds get fed and not the squirrels.
3. Get rid of ants: If you have a trail of ants wandering through your kitchen just give it a quick wipe down with vinegar and then sprinkle with cayenne pepper. This is a great alternative to using bug sprays around your food preparation areas. Take care that you don't sprinkle it where children and pets may get to it, though!
4. Deter a determine cat: If you little kitty friend has taken a liking to your power cords, just rub them with a slice of fresh cayenne or jalapeno pepper to keep them from chewing. If you only have dried pepper available, dissolve it in some vinegar and put in a spray bottle. Spray liberally and often to keep your cords safe and your cat from getting the shock of its' life.
5. Clear your head: If you are suffering from a stuffy nose (whether it is from allergies or a cold) add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper to a mug of hot tea to get that congestion cleared out! It also helps sooth a sore throat.
6. As a blood clotter: Another of my favorite cayenne pepper uses for pet owners. Cayenne pepper seems to have natural clotting abilities. If you cut your pet's nail a little to short and it starts bleeding, try dabbing a bit of cayenne pepper on it. You can also use it on small human injuries as well. Either sprinkle it on dry, or mix it with some water to form a paste before applying.
7. Make homemade Capsaicin Cream to sooth irritated skin and achy joints.
While I don't have quite the love affair with spicy foods that my husband does, I have definitely found that adding a little bit of heat to a dish gives it a whole different flavor profile. You may have to start small but try turning up the heat of your favorite recipes a little bit at a time and see how they turn out. You may have to learn to adapt slowly but it is worth it to dig into a bowl of chili that leaves your nose running and your forehead sweating! And once you have a big jug of cayenne pepper on hand to cook with, you can start using it in some of the ways I mentioned above!
Have any other cayenne pepper uses besides adding spice to chili?
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Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She has two college aged kids, one husband and more pets than she will admit to. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire but left her career in science to become a stay at home mom. Years of playing with LEGO and coloring with crayons had her craving a more grown up purpose to her life and she began blogging and freelance writing full time. You can learn more about her HERE.