Jalapeño Peppers

Jalapeno Pepper

Jalapeno Pepper

The jalapeño or jalapeno is a medium-sized chilli pepper. A mature jalapeño fruit is 5–9 cm long and is commonly picked and consumed while still green, but occasionally it is allowed to fully ripen and turn crimson red.

Good-quality Jalapeño peppers should be firm, smooth-skinned and have solid green colouring. Dry lines are not a blemish. They are signs of a mature pepper and indicate hotness. Avoid product that is soft, bruised, has wrinkled skin or spots of mould.

See the Scoville scale for a measurement of the spicy heat (or piquance) of a chilli pepper.

Serving styles

  • Pickled jalapeños, sliced or whole, are often served hot or cold on top of nachos, which are tortilla chips with melted cheese on top, a traditional Tex-Mex dish
  • Chipotles are smoked, ripe jalapeños.
  • Jalapeño jelly can be prepared using preserving methods.
  • Jalapeño peppers are often muddled and served in mixed drinks. (To muddle is to combine ingredients, usually in the bottom of a mixing glass, by pressing them with a muddler before adding the majority of the liquid ingredients. A muddler is a long pestle shaped often shaped like a baseball bat that is commonly made of wood, but modern designs can be found in stainless steel or plastic with teeth on the bottom.)
  • Jalapeño poppers, also called armadillo eggs, are an appetiser; jalapeños are stuffed with cheese, usually cheddar or cream cheese, breaded or wrapped in bacon, and cooked.
  • Stuffed jalapeños are hollowed out fresh jalapeños (served cooked or raw) that are stuffed, often with a mix containing seafood, meat, poultry, and/or cheese..
  • Chillies toreados are fresh jalapeños that are sauteed in oil until the skin is blistered all over. They are sometimes served with melted cheese on top.
  • Chopped jalapeños are a common ingredient in many salsas and chillies.
  • Jalapeño slices are commonly served in Vietnamese pho and bánh mì, and are also a common sandwich and pizza topping in the West.
  • Texas toothpicks are jalapeños and onions shaved into straws, lightly battered, and deep fried.

Culinary Concerns

  • Jalapeños are a high-acid food with a pH of 4.8–6.0 depending on maturity and individual pepper. If preserved (in a sealed can or jar) or pickled jalapeños appear gassy, mushy, moldy, or have a disagreeable odour, then to avoid botulism, special precautions are needed to avoid illness and spread of the bacteria. Calcium chloride increases the firmness of the peppers and the calcium content, whether or not the peppers are pickled as well as canned.
  • In 2008, fresh jalapeños from Mexico were tested positive for Salmonella leading the FDA to believe that the peppers were responsible for much of the 2008 United States salmonellosis outbreak. This large outbreak of Salmonella led to increased research into the detection of foodborne illnesses on jalapeños, the frequency and behavior of foodborne illness on jalapeños, and ways to prevent foodborne illnesses on fresh jalapeños. Contaminated irrigation water and processing water are the two most common methods by which jalapeños become infected, as was the case in the 2008 outbreak.
  • Jalapeños have similar microbial properties to tomatoes. The outer layer of their skin provides a safe environment for foodborne illnesses to survive and if damaged or chopped provides a growth medium for pathogens. Washing fresh jalapeños is important to reduce pathogen counts both at the farm and consumer level, but without cold storage it is insufficient to prevent pathogen spread.
  • Jalapeño juice may be used as a remedy for seasonal allergies and clearing sinuses from colds.

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