Answers to all of your jalapeno pepper questions from storage, to picking a good pepper, to "Are a jalapenos a fruit or a vegetable?".
Jalapenos are one of the most popular spicy pepper there is. These small, shiny green peppers are full of flavor and are crisp to the bite. These spicy green peppers are a staple in our house, not quite but almost on par with onions and garlic, and we use them almost daily.
I love using jalapenos in my cooking. Spicy food is a constant in our house, and jalapenos fall on the lower end of the spicy level to our tastes. They still add a great amount of heat and flavor to a dish.
Commonly you will see them in salsas, poppers, mexican food, and vietnamese food.
Is a jalapeno a fruit or a vegetable?
Are Jalapenos a fruit? Are jalapenos a vegetable? The answer? A jalapeno is a fruit! A lot of times we think of fruits as sweet and vegetables as savory or spicy, but botanically, this is not actually how they are classified. A fruit is classified by being the structure that is the ovary of the plant (containing one seed or several seeds) and growing from the flower of the plant.
So while we may be tempted to call a chili pepper a vegetable (or call any pepper a vegetable for that matter), peppers are a fruit.
Here are some unique ways to use jalapenos
- scrambled eggs
- For tuna salad boats
- sliced and added to packaged ramen to take it up a notch
- sliced on sushi
- candied jalapenos
- as a pizza topping
What are jalapenos on the scoville scale
Although they have some heat to them, jalapenos actually register as some of the least spicy peppers in the world. The average jalapeno registers somewhere between 2,500-5,000 on the scoville scale, with some getting as high as 8,000.
The scoville scale measures how much capsaicin is in a chili pepper, and therefore how spicy it is. Elements that affect a jalapenos hotness level include ripeness, amount and tightness of membrane and seeds, variety, and even the soil in which it was planted. Caiscain is what causes the burning sensation and spiciness, and is mostly found in the membrane (white part) and the seeds of the jalapeno.
There are two ways to take down the heat of a jalapeno pepper if you would like, and that is carefully removing the seeds and carefully removing the membrane.
Why are some jalapenos red?
Jalapenos turn red as they ripen. This means all jalapenos have the capacity to turn red if they continue to ripen on the vine. Most jalapenos that you will find in the store are underipe and that is why you will generally see them the traditional deep green color.
So why do we eat jalapenos when they are still green instead of waiting for them to finish turning red? Most likely because people prefer things less spicy and grocery stores often have to pick produce early to ensure its freshness once it hits the stores.
Are red jalapenos hotter?
Yes, they are. Because they have ripened longer, there is more capsaicin present (the element of peppers that gives them their heat) and the red jalapenos are often hotter than the green variety.
Along with that, the red jalapenos do taste slightly different and are often a little sweeter than the crispy green ones.
When to pick jalapenos
If you choose to grow them yourself, you can pick jalapenos at varying stages of the ripening.
Green jalapenos have thicker skin and are less spicy.
If you pick jalapenos when they are just starting to turn from green to red, they are a little spicier than average, but they still have a great snap to them.
How to choose a good jalapeno at the store
If you are grocery shopping and looking to pick out a good jalapeno (or several!), look for peppers that are firm, with smooth, tight, shiny skin and no blemishes from bugs. Look for a deep green color on the peppers.
When you chop them up later they will be crisp and juicy. Peppers will get some bad spots or become wrinkly as they become less fresh. If this happens, it is still possible to use them (often in cooked dishes), by cutting away any bad parts.
How to store jalapenos
Store your jalapenos in the fridge or on the counter. Fresh jalapenos can last up to several weeks in the crisper of your fridge. If you are going to use your chili peppers quickly, they can also be left on the counter in a brown paper bag for several days.
You can also freeze jalapenos.