The Most Popular Pepper, The Jalapeño

4 min read

The jalapeño is one of the most known chilli peppers, maybe even the most popular pepper in the world! It is perfect for those of us that love to add a little heat to any dish. 

Want to add a kick to your nachos? Add jalapeños. Want a delicious appetizer? Make jalapeño poppers. Want to try an exciting new drink? Try a spicy margarita with muddled jalapeños. Okay… that last one may not be the best idea, but if you love spicy food you secretly know you want to try it. 

Spicy, But Not Too Hot

Although the jalapeño pepper is on the lower end of the Scoville Scale, that does not mean it is not spicy. Jalapeños generally rank around 2,500 - 8,000 Scoville compared to the notorious Ghost Pepper which ranks at a scolding one million! However, this innocent looking pepper can still pack a heat punch that will make you feel like your mouth is on fire. Fortunately for you, that burning sensation does not last longer than a few minutes. A jalapeño’s spiciness can vary on many factors including the amount of sunlight each pepper receives and what part of the world they are grown. However depending on your tolerance, you may feel like it is as hot as a Ghost Pepper.

The jalapeño pepper is a fruit of the Capsicum pod type that has a green skin and spicy green flesh. When you bite into one of these green guys, the flavor is a bright, grassy earth flavor similar to that of a bell pepper. Contrary to the popular belief that the jalapeño seeds are the spiciest part, but it is actually the flesh near them that is burning up with the highest concentration of capsaicin.

A good indicator to easily identify the spicier jalapeños is to look at their skin. If a jalapeño has dry, white lines and flecks on the skin that is where the heat and flavor are especially concentrated making that little guy hotter than its other friends. The hotness of a jalapeño is determined by how old the pepper is or how long the pepper stays on the vine, how much stress the pepper plant has been under (the more stress, the hotter the pepper), and how smooth the skin is. So remember, the less stressed and the more smooth the jalapeño skin is, the less heat it will have. To really know how hot a jalapeño really is your best bet is cut a small piece of the pepper, such as the tip, and have a little taste.

Where did jalapeños come from?

The jalapeño is a native pepper from Mexico, but is now grown and produced around the world. It is a relatively medium sized hot pepper compared to other chile peppers as it is typically two to three inches long. This lil’ green pepper gets its name from its native country. Jalapeño is Spanish for “Jalapa” which is actually how you pronounce Xalapa, the capital of Veracruz, Mexico where jalapeños were originally grown. Today, most jalapeños are grown at a different part of Mexico in the city of Chihuahua. Jalapeños crops can also be found here in the United States in New Mexico, Texas, and California. In fact, Texas loves jalapeños so much that they declared jalapeños as their official state pepper in 1995.

Unless you are an avid gardener who loves to grow peppers, you would not know that there are over twenty varieties of jalapeño peppers today. They can vary from color, size, and heat. The most popular jalapeños are green or TAM chile peppers and red or Huachinango chile peppers. Where the green jalapeños are mild and tolerable to most, the red jalapeños are higher on the Scoville Scale making them a lot hotter. This is because the red peppers are fully ripened jalapeños and will have more capsaicin than the green jalapeño pepper.

Fun Fact Time! Did you know that a jalapeño is the same pepper as a chipotle pepper? That’s right! Both chile peppers start as the same little green pepper on the vine. Chipotle peppers are actually made from fully ripened red jalapeños which is why chipotle peppers are higher on the Scoville Scale. Once the red jalapeño has fully ripened, it is dried and smoked. Chipotle peppers are often ground down to a powder and added to dishes that need that extra kick of spice and smoky flavor.

Where can I find jalapeños?

Jalapeños can be found at just about any grocery store near you. Cooks enjoy using jalapeños because of their mild heat they bring to any dish. These chile peppers can be eaten raw, pickled, or cooked - the choice is yours! Jalapeños are most popular in Tex-Mex dishes, Thai recipes, Latin American foods, and many more dishes. There are even desserts that integrate spiciness with jalapeños. Some of these sweets include jalapeño lime cheesecake, jalapeño brownies, chile chocolate bars, and much more! They also make great appetizers and dips like jalapeño poppers, guacamole, jalapeño cornbread, and lots more.

You should store these green guys in the fridge if you are not planning to use them right away. It is recommended that you eat jalapeños within one week, but they are known to have a shelf life of up to four weeks. If you buy a couple of green jalapeños that begin to take on a bit of a red color after a few days, do not worry! They are not going bad, they are just ripening. This is actually something that is natural to jalapeños - the older the jalapeño is the more likely it is to turn red which as we have mentioned before will also make it hotter than the pepper was before. 

Our Jalapeño Hot Sauces

Check out some of our jalapeño based hot sauces that you can purchase today to make any dish hotter. Try one or challenge your tastebuds and get more than one! Our top selling jalapeños hot sauces include:

See our full selection of Jalapeño Hot Sauces >>

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