I have had a painful night, not made any easier by the knowledge that I brough it on myself..
I found myself with a boatload of produce to preserve over the weekend. After blanching and freezing, canning and pickling, I decided to do a final once over in the garden to get a few mature things harvested, There were just enough beans, onions, peppers and such to add to the broccoli and cauliflower I had left from the morning’s freezing to make a jardineire, a mixed Italian pickle that we are all fond of. While the vegetables simmered in the brine, I added a couple of cloves of garlic to the bottom of each canning jar. I had two peppers left over; small, dark red oval things I don’t even remember planting. I seeded and cut those up and added them to the jars too, thinking a bit of heat might be a nice addition. I can see you smiling. You know where this is going.
My hands started to sting a bit during clean up. Not bad, but letting me know I should have checked out those peppers a bit more carefully. I finished the pickles, processed them and got the jars out of the canner then took quick swim before starting dinner. Things were fine in the pool but when I got out my hands started to really burn, especially the tips of my fingers. I tried all the home remedies I could think of. Jewel weed, milk, olive oil and lemon juice. I got enough relief from Germ-X, a waterless hand cleaner that’s loaded with alcohol, to go to the Creamery for dinner(no way I could cook) and advice. By this time, my throat was burning and my mouth felt hot. A bowl of clam chowder helped that a lot. Alice and Amy, the owners, suggested bentonite clay for my hands. Fortunately, they had some in the herb aisle.
I was willing to try anything. Just touching my clothing set of new waves of searing pain. I mixed up the powder into a gloppy clay and caked up with that. The relief was quick. I suspect that the clay absorbed the capsaicin oil that was the problem. I let it dry, rinsed, scrubbed my skin, lathered up with more Germ-X and caked on more bentonite. I took some Benadryl and slept on the couch with my poor hands resting on a towel. Every once in a while, I woke up and used more Germ-X. This morning, things are much better. I’m tender but my hands look and feel nearly normal.
When will I learn? I know better than to seed hot peppers without gloves. I teach classes on this stuff, for goodness sake! But this brings up a very valuable homestead, self-sufficiency, preparedness point. It is so easy to get complacent when you work around inherently dangerous things like livestock and fire and tools. Familiarity breeds sloppiness sometimes. This time, it only led to an uncomfortable 12 hours. Another time, it could lead to something far worse. Hubris is a bad thing and I will be sure to remember that.
On another subject. Just because you don’t grow something doesn’t mean you can’t preserve it. I had almost no bassicas this year. I order a case of each form the Creamery. The price was good as I bought in bulk (and promised the produce manager a jar of pickles. It was a chore to cut, blanch and freeze so much all at once but over two days, I got 50 bags of vegetables put int the freezer. If you have a small, local grocer it might not hurt to ask about bulk prices on things you want. I have friends who run a store and they get a lot of bulk purchase things for me. I am thinking I should spread out from beyond food into things like shampoo and soap. My idea of heaven would be to never go into a supermarket again.