Jalapeno peppers are a popular pepper variety used in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the jalapeno, including its heat level, varieties, growing requirements, substitutes, culinary uses, and drying techniques.
What Are Jalapeno Peppers?
Jalapeno peppers are a type of chili pepper that is typically used in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. They are typically red or green in color, and their name comes from the Nahuatl word "Xalapa or Jalapa".
Jalapeno peppers are generally milder than other spicy chili peppers, but they can vary in heat depending on their growing conditions.
The hottest jalapeno peppers have been grown in Mexico, where they are used to make spicy dishes such as salsa and mole sauce. In the United States, jalapeno peppers are often pickled and used as a condiment on burgers and sandwiches.
How Hot Is A Jalapeno Pepper?
The Jalapeño pepper on the Scoville scale clocks in at 2,500 to 8,000 units. For context, bell peppers rank zero on the Scoville scale, Biquinho between 1000 and 2000, while habaneros pack 350,000 heat units.
A jalapeño is about five times hotter than a poblano, the chile you’ll likely find in a can of diced green chiles. And those habaneros? Forty-five times hotter than a jalapeño.
So, while a jalapeño certainly has some heat, it’s not going to blow your head off. But if you’re sensitive to spice, you might want to go easy on the jalapeños. And if you really want to turn up the heat, reach for a habanero.
Green vs Red Jalapeno Pepper
Green jalapeno peppers are the unripe version of the fruit. They're crispy and have a tangy, fresh flavor. They're also quite mild, with a heat level that ranges from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville heat units (SHU).
By contrast, red jalapeno peppers also known as Chile Gordo which means fat chili pepper, are ripe fruits that have been left on the plant to mature. As a result, they're softer and have a sweeter flavor.
Additionally, they are spicier than green peppers because as they ripen, the peppers become more pungent.
Types of Jalapeno Peppers
There are many different types of jalapeno peppers, but five stand out as the most popular.
- Traditional green jalapenos are the most common type found in grocery stores. These peppers have a moderate heat level and a fairly mild flavor.
- Red jalapenos are slightly sweeter and spicier than the green variety.
- Chipotle peppers are smoked and dried jalapenos that have a very intense flavor.
How To Dry Jalapeno Pepper
The best way to preserve Jalapeno peppers is to dry them. This can be done in a number of ways, such as by using a food dehydrator, an oven, or even the sun. By following these simple steps, you can ensure that you will have plenty of Jalapeno peppers to use all year long!
- Cut the peppers into uniform slices, about ¼-inch thick. The thinner the slices, the faster they will dry.
- Place the pepper slices in a single layer on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. If you don't have a wire rack, you can use a lightly oiled baking sheet.
- Place the baking sheet in an oven set to its lowest temperature (usually between 150 and 200 degrees F). Prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon to allow moisture to escape.
- Check on the peppers after about 2 hours. They should be dried and slightly leathery, but still pliable. If they are not yet dry, continue checking every 30 minutes or so until they are done.
- Once the peppers are dry, store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. They will keep for several months.
How To Use Jalapeno Peppers In Cooking
Jalapeño peppers can be used in a variety of ways in cooking.
- They can be diced and added to salsa or guacamole for a bit of spice, or they can be sliced and used as a garnish on tacos or nachos.
- Jalapeños can also be stuffed with cheese or ground meat and then roasted, grilled, or breaded and fried.
- When cooked, the heat of the pepper is mellowed out, making them a bit more palatable for those who are sensitive to spice.
- For those who enjoy a bit of heat, jalapeños can be left whole and added to soups or stews, or they can be pickled and eaten as a condiment.
Substitution For Jalapeno Pepper
If you are looking for a substitute for Jalapeno pepper, there are several options.
- Poblano Peppers - These large, mild peppers are excellent for those who want the flavor of jalapeno without the heat.
- Anaheim Peppers - Anaheim peppers are milder than jalapeno peppers and have a sweeter flavor. They are often used in Mexican and Southwestern dishes. No matter which pepper you choose, be sure to seed and devein the pepper before using it in your recipe. This will help to reduce the heat of the pepper and prevent it from being too spicy.
- Bell peppers - A sweet and vibrant option, bell pepper can be used in a variety of dishes.
- Banana Peppers - As their name suggests, these peppers have a sweetness that is similar to bananas. They also have a slight heat that makes them perfect for those who want a little spice in their dish.
- Cherry peppers - Cherry peppers are small but pack a powerful punch of heat. They can be used in pickling recipes or as a topping on pizza or salads.
- Habanero Peppers - For those who want the full jalapeno experience, habanero peppers are the way to go. These fiery little peppers pack a serious amount of heat and should be used sparingly.
- Serrano peppers - A good middle-of-the-road option, serrano peppers are hotter than jalapeno peppers but this hot pepper is not as fiery as habanero peppers.
How To Grow Jalapenos
If you're looking to add a little spice to your life, why not try growing your own jalapeño plants? Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Choose a sunny spot in your garden for planting. Jalapeno peppers need at least six hours of sunlight per day.
- Prepare the soil by adding organic matter such as compost or manure. This will help the peppers to grow strong and healthy.
- Sow the seeds indoors in pots or seed trays, about eight weeks before the last frost date. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
- When the seedlings are big enough to handle, transplant them into individual pots or into prepared beds outdoors. Space the plants about 30cm apart.
- Water regularly, especially during dry periods. Mulch around the plants to help retain moisture in the soil.
- Harvest when the peppers are ripe, they will be a deep green color. You can pick them and use them fresh, or dry them for later use. Enjoy!
People Also Ask [FAQs]
While there are many ways to say it, the most common pronunciation is "hala-pay-nyo".
There are approximately five calories in a jalapeno pepper.
Jalapenos are typically ripe and ready to pick when they are 3-4 inches in length and dark green in color. However, you can also pick them when they are red, orange, or yellow.
Wrap Up: Jalapeno Peppers
- This article goes into great detail about the jalapeno pepper, including its heat level, varieties, growing requirements, substitutes, culinary uses, and drying techniques.
- Jalapeño peppers' taste is typically regarded as being milder than that of other spicy chili peppers.
- The traditional green jalapeno is the most common type found in stores, while red jalapenos are slightly sweeter and spicier.
- Chipotle peppers are smoked and dried jalapenos with an intense flavor.
- Jalapeno pepper is a versatile and flavorful addition to many dishes. It can be used fresh, pickled, or dried, and its heat level can be adjusted to suit your preferences.
- With a little care and attention, you can even grow your own jalapeno pepper plants at home. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and add some spice to your life!
Easy and Delicious Pickled Jalapenos
- 25 jalapeno peppers
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon celery seed
- 1 clove garlic peeled and smashed
- Wash the peppers and slice them into thin rounds, or leave whole if preferred.
- Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, celery seed, and garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the peppers to the pan and simmered for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool, then transfer the peppers and pickling liquid to a jar or other container.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
- Store the jar in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before eating.
- Be sure to use a non-reactive container, such as glass or stainless steel.