Pepper of the Week – Jalapeño

November 12, 2015 at 6:07 AM | Posted in Jalapenos, Pepper of the Week, Peppers | Leave a comment
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Immature jalapeños still in the plant pot

Immature jalapeños still in the plant pot

The jalapeño (/ˌhæləˈpiːnoʊ/ or /ˌhæləˈpeɪnjoʊ/, Spanish pronunciation: [xalaˈpeɲo] is a medium-sized chili pepper pod type cultivar of the species Capsicum annuum. A mature jalapeño fruit is 5–10 cm (2–4 in) long and hangs down with a round, firm, smooth flesh of 1–1.5 in (25–38 mm) wide. It is of mild to medium piquancy, 1,000 and 20,000 Scoville units in general. It is commonly picked and consumed while still green, but occasionally it is allowed to fully ripen and turn crimson red; and other cultivar variations of the same pod type exist. It is wider and milder than the Serrano pepper. The Chile Pepper Institute is known for developing colored variations.

 

 

Ripened jalapeños, red in color

Ripened jalapeños, red in color

The jalapeño is variously named huachinango, for the ripe red jalapeño, and chile gordo (meaning “fat chili pepper”) in Mexico. The cuaresmeño closely resembles the jalapeño; its seeds have the heat of a jalapeño, but the flesh has a mild flavor close to a green bell pepper.

 

 

In 1999, roughly 107 thousand acres in Mexico were dedicated towards growing jalapeños and as of 2011, that number had fallen to 101 thousand acres. Jalapeños account for thirty percent of Mexico’s chili production, and while acreage has decreased there has been a 1.5% increase in volume yield per year in Mexico due to increasing irrigation, usage of greenhouses, better equipment, knowledge, and improved techniques so that in 2009 619,000 tons of jalapeños were produced with 42% of the crop coming from Chihuahua, 12.9% from Sinaloa, 6.6% from Jalisco, and 6.3% from Michoacán. La Costeña (food company) controls about 60% of the world market and, according to company published figures, exports 16% of the peppers that Mexico produces, an 80% share of the 20% that Mexico exports in total. The US imports 98% of La Costeña’s exports.

According to the USDA, starting since 2010, California produces the most jalapeños followed by New Mexico and Texas, for a total of 462.5 million pounds of peppers (231,250 tons) in 2014. It is difficult to get accurate statistics on chilies and specific chilies as growers are not fond of keeping and sharing such data and reporting agencies often lump all green chilies together, or all hot chilies, with no separation of pod type. In New Mexico in 2002 the crop of jalapeños were worth $3 million at the farm gate and $20 million with processing.

China, Peru, Spain, and India are also producers of commercial chilies, including jalapeños.

 

 

In a 100 gram serving, raw jalapeños provide 29 calories and are an excellent source (> 20% of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin C, vitamin B6 and vitamin E, with vitamin K in a moderate amount. Protein, dietary fiber, fat and other essential nutrients are low in content.

 

 

Fresh sliced jalapeño

Fresh sliced jalapeño

Jalapeños are a low-acid food with a pH of 4.8-6.0 depending on maturity and individual pepper. Improperly canned jalapeños can have botulism and in 1977 home-canned jalapeños led to the largest outbreak of botulism in the US in over a century. If canned or pickled jalapeños appear gassy, mushy, moldy, or have a disagreeable odor, then to avoid botulism, discard the food and boil the jar, lid and contents for 30 minutes in water, scrub all surfaces that may have come in contact with it, and wash all clothing and hands; discarding sponges or towels used in the cleanup in a plastic bag. Canning or packaging in 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 that 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 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.

 

 

Jalapeño peppers wrapped in crescent rolls

Jalapeño peppers wrapped in crescent rolls

Serving methods:
* Stuffed jalapeños are hollowed out fresh jalapeños (served cooked or raw) that are stuffed, often with a mix containing seafood, red meat, poultry, and/or cheese.
*Pickled jalapeños, a type of Pickled pepper, 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, which is a Pepper jelly, can be prepared using jelling methods.
* Jalapeño peppers are often muddled and served in mixed drinks.
* Jalapeño poppers are an appetizer; jalapeños are stuffed with cheese, usually cheddar or cream cheese, breaded or wrapped in bacon, and cooked.
* Armadillo eggs are jalapeños or similar chilis stuffed with cheese, coated in seasoned sausage meat and wrapped in bacon. The “eggs” are then grilled until the bacon starts to crisp.
* Chiles 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.
* Texas toothpicks are jalapeños and onions shaved into straws, lightly breaded, and deep fried.
* Chopped jalapeños are a common ingredient in many salsas and chilis.
* Jalapeño slices are commonly served in Vietnamese pho, and are also a common sandwich and even pizza topping in the West.

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