Posted by: Hallie | April 20, 2009

Seasonal Selections: Hoppin’ Jalapeños

pepper
Hoppin’ Jalapeños

(yeah I know that’s a crappy photo. And that pepper is on it’s way OUT. But you know what they look like, and I think I’m going to make a marinade out of that sad, sad pepper)

We’re getting into pepper season, so I decided to feature the fiery jalapeño for today’s Seasonal Selections. When we had that salmonella outbreak with jalapeños awhile back, it was a really sad (and bland) time around here because we use them so much. I love chipotles too, but Mitch isn’t as much of a fan, or I’d use them in everything.

(Mini product review: I had Frontera’s Black Bean soup the other day, and it was amazing. Worth every penny. Well actually, it’s now my goal to recreate this soup because it was more than I’d like to spend on a canned—or jarred in this case—soup. Nonetheless, it’s delicious!)

General Chile Pepper Information

Info from Whole Foods

Selecting

Look for peppers that are deeply colored and free of wrinkles, soft spots or other indications of age or decay. Peppers should be chosen based on their flavor and heat. The spiciness level of a pepper is expressed in Scoville units, a measure of the capsaicin content in the pepper, which is perceived as “heat” by the human palate. The heat range of individual peppers can vary dramatically because it is affected by both the variety and growing conditions. Jalapeños are hot, small, dark green (or red!) with Scoville Units of 5,000 to 6,000.

Recommended Use: chili, tacos, nachos, pickling, most common variety used to make chipotle peppers

The term “chipotle” has become extremely popular when describing various salsas and sauces made from chile peppers. Chipotles are not a variety of peppers, but rather they are smoked jalapeño peppers. Originally used as a preservation technique by the Aztecs, smoking provides a rich earthy flavor that complements robust foods like chili very well. Chipotles are available both dried and in powder form, as well as canned in adobo sauce.

Storing

Most fresh peppers will keep, unwashed, in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for about a week.

Using

The seeds and membranes in chile peppers contain most of the “heat” in the form of capsaicin, a compound that causes the familiar mouth-burning sensation. Removing these parts will reduce a chile’s heat. To remove seeds and membranes from a large pepper (like poblanos), cut a circle around the stem or gently tear the stem off the top (most of the seeds will come with it), then shake out the remaining seeds from inside and remove as much of the white ribs as possible (using your fingers or a knife).

If you wish to leave large peppers whole for stuffing, cut a circle around the stem, leaving it attached with a slight inward lip or rim around the edge, then cut the rest of the pepper in half lengthwise and proceed to remove the seeds and ribs. For small peppers, slice the pepper lengthwise down the center in order to access the ribs, then use a knife to gently carve or scrape out all seeds and membranes.

Use care when handling peppers that are spicy with your hands—the oils that cause a burning sensation may linger for hours even after you wash your hands (an unpleasant surprise if you rub your eyes or remove contact lenses or have to go to the bathroom if you’re a guy…so I’m told!).

Nutrition Information

Chile peppers are very high in vitamins C and A. They are also known for clearing sinuses when eaten (especially the very hot ones) and may help to improve circulation (certain types are even found as ingredients in orally administered natural remedies). Capsaicin is also known for relieving inflammation caused by arthritis when applied topically in a cream.

Fast Fact

The capsaicin found inside hot chile peppers is the ingredient that makes the pepper spray used by law enforcement so effective.

Recipes to Try:
Cheddar Jalapeño Bread
Spiced Chicken Breasts with Apple-Jalapeno Chutney
Pan-Seared Salmon with Pineapple-Jalapeño Relish

Here are a few recipes I’ve made with jalapeños: vegan curry and turkey chili.

curry turkey chili

So my question is, do you like it HOT? For me there is no such thing at “too spicy,” or at least I have a super-high threshold (especially for a white girl, I’m just sayin’). One time I was making dinner for a friend who doesn’t like spicy food, and I literally had to wrack my brain trying to think of a recipe I had that wasn’t spicy. I ended up with Sloppy Joe’s (and just left out the hot sauce I usually put in my sloppy’s)

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Responses

  1. I love my food spicy! I put chipotle tabasco on everything under the sun. 🙂

  2. I LOVE spicy!! I always joke that my tomato soup is hot sauce soup 🙂

  3. That’s hot! Hehe. 🙂 I just read an article on peppers in Body & Soul yesterday!

    I love spicy, too! I like to put jalapenos in a sandwich or wrap with turkey and avocado!

  4. I LOVE spicy but not too spicy – more like a medium spice.

    Be sure to enter my Annie’s Naturals Dressings Go Green Giveaway 🙂

  5. i used to have no tolerance at all for hot, but now i love it!! just not in straight jalapeno form …

  6. I love me some spice! I always have to ask people before I cook for them b/c I will make it spicy w/o even thinking about it! Oops! I used to work at Subway, and I would make myself veggie sandwiches w/ onion, tomato, MOBS of jalapenos and tons of sweet onion sauce. That’s it. It was delicious. I love the spicy/sweet combo!

  7. If i had one bite of this I think I would drop dead! I am soooo sensitive to spice — such a baby!!!


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