Jalapeno peppers are America's most popular pepper. From nachos to jalapeno poppers to hot sauces, you can find jalapeno peppers just about anywhere. They are not the spiciest peppers and relative to the other spices we carry they are on the very low end. Pepper spiciness or pungency is gauged on the Scoville Scale. Jalapeno peppers typically have a Scoville Heat Units (SHU) rating of 2500 to 8,500 SHU. While they are not the spiciest peppers, they make up for it with their flavor. What is especially great about jalapeno peppers is that they are mild enough that they can be enjoyed whole without all the pain you will experience if you eat hotter peppers.
Even though jalapeños are an extremely common variety of hot pepper today, this wasn’t always the case. You used to have a hard time hunting down these chilies without stopping by a specialty shop. Now people from every country can’t get enough of this hot pepper. In fact, one-fourth of the world population eats at least one pepper every day!
The jalapeño gets in name fromJalapa, Mexico (also known as Xalapa, Mexico) where it first started growing. However, the pepper is no longer grown commercially in that area. Ancient Aztecs were the first people to use the jalapeño, but it did not become a global sensation untilColumbus spread hot peppers around the world in 1492.
Even though it is no longer being produced in Jalapa, most jalapeños grow in Mexico, especially Chihuahua. You can also find these peppers in India, China, Spain, and Peru. The United States produces some jalapenos each year and has started growing large amounts of crops in New Mexico, Texas, and California. Texas even declared the jalapeño its state pepper. In February, the state celebrates the Jalapeño Festival as part of Washington’s Birthday Celebration in the city of Laredo.
It’s great breaded or fried or, if you’re feeling really brave, eaten raw. You’ll commonly find them insalsasor guacamole, and are available as a powder and flakes. They are delicious smoked, dried, or pickled. The famously spicySrirachahot sauce has jalapeños as an ingredient.
Another interesting fact about jalapeno peppers is that Jalapeño and chipotle are actually the same pepper, despite their different flavor profiles. When a ripe pepper is smoked until it is extremely dry, it results inchipotle. This smoky chili is essential for adobo. Of course, this is also the namesake for the fast-food restaurant chain Chipotle.
If you are looking for the perfect pepper to eat whole this is the one. You can simply rehydrate our jalapeno peppers by submerging them in warm water.