Valley Bounty: Jalapeños

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Jalapeños get their name from the city of Xalapa, the capital of the Mexican state of Veracruz, where the pepper was traditionally cultivated. One of the more widely available and recognizable chili peppers in the United States, jalapeños are actually one of the more mild chili peppers in terms of heat (though I suppose that is relative to your comfort level with spicy food); most jalapeños are somewhere between 2,500 SHU and 10,000 SHU (or Scoville Heat Units), which is much closer to a bell pepper (which, at 0 SHU, is one of the only Capsicum that does not produce capsaicin) than to the ominously named mega-spicy peppers with ominous names like “Carolina Reaper” and “Pepper X”, which can have over a million SHU. You can get a sense for how hot a given jalapeño is by looking at the pepper’s “corking”, the brown scar-like lines on the outside; more corking means a hotter pepper.

If you want to dial down the heat of a chili pepper, cut it open and use a paring knife to remove the white membrane, or “pith”, and seeds inside. Although we call this process “seeding”, it is actually the pith that contains the bulk of the pepper’s capsaicin, ostensibly to discourage animals from eating the seeds it protects.

Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)