Pick a peck of pickles ‘n’ peppers

Box full of 80K hotness.

By Laura Grimes

The Great Pickles As Social Vehicle Experiment continues with swap …

No. 6: Peppers. As my apple crisp cooled on the stove and I messaged my fellow crisp baker, another message popped up.

Peppers were in the mail from another old chum I hadn’t seen in more than 30 years.

I hadn’t heard about the peppers in a while and had wondered whether they were going to happen. It turned out they were drying. His note came with an ominous red flag:

Handling the broken peppers WILL get the capsaicin on your skin and under the nails. HOURS later, even after scrubbing, you can forget and touch your eye. Don’t do this, it isn’t pleasant. Some soaps are effective on capsaicin. Boraxo works great but most liquid hand soaps are a joke. To test if your fingers are cleaned of the capsaicin, suck on your fingernails and fingertips. If you taste pepper, you’re still dangerous. You will inevitably forget and get some in your eye. While you are cursing me, just remember that capsaicin causes severe pain, but does no damage. The best thing to do is to just cry it out; it goes away in about a half hour.

Then he signed off with a gleeful “Have fun!”

First Class peppersThe day after fish stew dinner, a brown box arrived from Wild Goose Way in a small populated area of Idaho. The box, about the size of a box of new checks, weighed 3.6 ounces and cost $1.73 to ship first class.

Inside was a brown paper bag full of small dried peppers. (I’m sneezing just writing about them.) I’m just about done with my batch of store-bought dried peppers that I whirred up and sprinkle in nearly every pot of soup and sauce that I make. I can’t wait to replace them with these heat-packing bad boys.

For a return exchange, my Wild Goose Way friend picked (no surprise) the spicy dills. When I warned him they’re not too spicy, he said, “Spicy doesn’t have to trigger the pain receptors.”

It turns out the 80K pepper distinction that he warned me about isn’t the length of an extreme distance race, but the amount of hotness according to the Scoville scale. By comparison, according to my friend, a jalapeno pepper usually ranges between 2,500 and 10,000. In a word: Ouch!

How does he use the peppers? “Just like hobbits … We eats them.”

I (very carefully) wrapped the jar of spicy dills in a long swatch of bubble wrap that the Large Smelly Boys hadn’t danced on. The box weighed 3 lbs., 5.5 oz. and cost $7.94 to mail parcel post.

A few days later I got a note.

“Pickles arrived safe and sound. How long do they need to wait before being properly pickled?”

Mr. Scatter knew just how to reply.

“After about the third martini.”



No. 7: Apple pie. As I was wrapping the dills in the bubble wrap, an email popped up with the subject line: “Pie Day’s coming!”



All the swaps:

  1. Kickass ginger molasses cookies. Traded while having coffee with a former colleague I hadn’t seen in a while. Read about it here.
  2. Symphony tickets. Quasimodo meets The Mummy during negotiations. Read about it here.
  3. Basket of produce and salad dressing. Read about it here on the inspiring One Day At a Time blog.
  4. Pesto and a WillaKenzie Pinot Gris. We swapped over a wonderful dinner. More to tell.
  5. A book: The Short Stories of Henry James. Swapped over another wonderful dinner. Read about it here, even though it’s mostly about making apple crisp.
  6. Dried hot peppers. Swapped through the mail to a long-ago friend who lives somewhere I’ve never been.
  7. Apple pie. We shared a spiked drink, stories about famous art in not-so-famous places, and the apple pie was topped with a crust that looked like a topographical map.
  8. Elk meat. Dinner again for frozen meat that was thawed for Christmas dinner when the house was full of carnivores.
  9. Sauerkraut. Drinks and nibbles for fresh kraut that went with thawed meat (see above).