Are in you a spice-related emergency ? Is your mouth on fire ? Reach for the milk, quick ! Did you get it ? Good. Now let’s try and explain just why milk helps with spiciness.
After all, there’s no immediately obvious reason. At least, not at face value. And there’s some spicy dishes that have milk in them, like some curry types. So what gives, why does milk help ? It turns out the answer is fairly simple.
Why does milk help with spice ?
Milk helps with spice because it has a lot of fat and protein, and capsaicin is fat-soluble. This means that fats and oils will be able to wash away the burning sensation, and the protein called casein in milk will act as a sort of balm.
This means that milk isn’t the only drink or food item to help with spicy foods. Yep, there’s other things you probably have around the house, and they will work too.
We’ll get to explaining those as well, but first let’s talk about different milk types and see if all of them help.
Does all dairy milk help with spice ?
Yes, all mammal milk will help with spice. This is because it’s not just the fats, but also the protein that help. Milk has a small amount of water, when you break down the whey that the protein and fat swim in. But it’s really a small amount.
So any dairy milk will do just fine with spice.
Does plant or nut milk help reduce spiciness ?
Not as much. As in, thinner, low-fat and low protein plant or nut milks won’t help all that much. This is because the water content is much higher than in dairy milk, and there’s just not enough fat and protein to cover p all the capsaicin.
When things get too hot
All that being said, there’s a few other things you can do to tone down the spiciness. Some of these may be to your liking, some may not. For example if you’re lactose intolerant or vegan, you’ll be happy to know dairy isn’t the only solution.
So let’s take a look at how to save out mouths from the burning chilies of doom. Please note that this doesn’t apply to just chili and capsaicin. It works just as fine for ginger and its gingerol, cinnamon, pepper, or any other extra spicy spice.
Tone down a curry or chili with cream
If you think your serving of curry or chili is too hot, ask for some heavy cream. Milk will work too, but it will seriously thin out the mixture. Cream (full fat) will keep the mixture relatively thick and still tone down the spice significantly.
Try yogurt, cream, cottage cheese, or sour cream
If you have no milk on hand at home, any dairy product will work, as long as there is fat and casein in there. So yogurt, cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, and even sour cream are all great options to reduce spiciness.
Even melting some mozzarella or a hunk of Gouda into a spicy sauce will help a lot.
Water won’t help, nor will anything carbonated
Don’t reach for the water when the spice hits. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, water really won’t help. Why ? Capsaicin is not water soluble, meaning all water can do it glide over it. It won’t move or wash it away.
The only relief comes from the fact that the water is colder than your tongue, and that only lasts for a couple of seconds.
And no, beer or soda or even club soda won’t be any good either. They’re a lot of water, and they’re also carbonated. This makes things even worse, and your tongue will go numb for a few seconds from the million little stings.
Try high proof alcohol, but just a little
Capsaicin is also alcohol soluble, meaning a very high proof alcohol will help tone down the chili. Just a small sip, and swish it around your tongue.
This is another reason beer won’t help, since it has a very low alcohol content compared to, rum, tequila, or moonshine.
Grab a bit more bread, potatoes, or anything starchy
If all else fails, try some starchy foods. If you’ve got some extra fries, dig in. There’s starch and oil in those, so they should help. Bread, pasta, rice, tortilla, anything of the sort.
All that being said, if you’re a daredevil and like you mayo extra spicy, go right ahead and drink beer with those hot wings ! If you’ve got any other food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.