Immature jalapeños still in the plant pot
The jalapeño (// or //, Spanish pronunciation: [xalaˈpeɲo] ( listen)) 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 pungency, 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.
History and etymology
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.
The name jalapeño is Spanish for "from Xalapa" (also spelled Jalapa), a town in Veracruz, Mexico, where the pepper was traditionally cultivated. The name Xalapa is itself of Nahuatl origin, formed from roots xālli [ˈʃaːlːi] "sand" and āpan [ˈaːpan] "water place".
Cultivation of jalapeños
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.
Jalapeños are a pod type of capsicum annuum. The growing period is 70–80 days. When mature, the plant stands 70–90 cm (28–35 in) tall. Typically, a plant produces 25 to 35 pods. During a growing period, a plant will be picked multiple times. As the growing season ends, the peppers turn red, as seen in Sriracha sauce. Jalapeños thrive in a number of soil types and temperatures, though they prefer warmer climates, provided they have adequate water. A pH of 4.5 to 7.0 is preferred for growing Jalapeños and keeping the soil well drained is essential for keeping the plants healthy. Jalapeños need at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day. Once picked, individual peppers may turn to red of their own accord. The peppers can be eaten green or red. Though usually grown as an annual they are perennial and if protected from frost can produce during multiple years, as with all Capsicum annuum.
Jalapeños are subject to root rot and foliar blight, both often caused by Phytophthora capsici; over-watering worsens the condition as the fungus grows best in warm wet environments, however the cause is not itself over-watering but the fungus. Crop rotation can help, and resistant strains of Jalapeño, such as the NuMex Vaquero and TAM Mild Jalapeño, have been and are being bred as this is of major commercial impact throughout the world. As Jalapeños are a cultivar the diseases are common to capsicum annuum: Verticillium wilt, Cercospora capsici, Powdery mildew, Colletotrichum capsici (Ripe Rot), Erwinia carotovora (Soft Rot), Beet curly top virus, Tospovirus (Tomato spotted wilt virus), Pepper mottle virus, Tobacco mosaic virus, Pepper Geminiviridae, and Root-knot nematode being among the major commercially important diseases.
After harvest if Jalapeños are stored at 7.5 °C (45 °F) they have a shelf life of up to 3–5 weeks. Jalapeños produce 0.1-0.2 µl/kg•hr of ethylene which is very low for chiles and do not respond to ethylene treatment. Holding Jalapeños at 20-25 °C and high humidity can be used to complete the ripening of picked Jalapeños. A hot water dip of 55 °C [130 °F] for 4 minutes is used to kill off molds that may exist on the picked peppers without damaging them. The majority of Jalapeños are wet processed, canned or pickled, on harvesting for use in mixes, prepared food products, and salsas.
Hybrids and Sub-Cultivars
There are a wide variety of breeds for consumer and commercial use of jalapeño plants; the majority fall under one of four categories: F1 hybrids where the parent plants have been hand emasculated and cross-bred to produce uniform offspring with hybrid vigor, cultivars which are F-11 or F-12 hybrids or later generations where a stable unique population has been developed, Landraces, and F2 hybrids.
F1 hybrids produce the highest and most uniform yields but cost 25 times the cost open pollinated seed leading to only 2% of United States acreage being planted with F1 hybrids. F2 hybrids often produce similarly to F1 hybrids, however some F1 hybrids are produced via recessive male sterility getting rid of the need to hand pollinate, reducing the cost to produce the hybrid, but producing a 25% reduction in yield in the F2 generation. Some notable F1 hybrids are 'Mitla', 'Perfecto', 'Tula', 'Grande' a hot Jalapeño, Sayula, Senorita, and Torreon; most of them being developed and marketed by Petoseed a brand of Seminis.
Cultivars are researched and created to promote desirable traits. Common ones that are selected for are resistance to viruses and other pepper related illnesses, milder peppers, early ripening, more attractive fruit in terms of size, wall thickness, and corking, and higher yields. The land grant universities and the Chile Pepper Institute promote the use of cultivars as being the most sustainable and environmentally safe disease control method both in terms of economics and long term environmental perspective. Notable cultivars include 'Early Jalapeño', 'TAM Mild Jalapeño', 'TAM Mild Jalapeño II', 'NuMex Vaquero', the colorful 'NuMex Piñata', 'TAM Dulcito', 'Waialua', and 'NuMex Primavera'.
Health benefits and concerns
Compared to other chillies, the jalapeño heat level varies from mild to hot depending on cultivation and preparation and can have between 2,500 and 10,000 Scoville units. The number of scars on the pepper, which appear as small brown lines, called 'corking', has a positive correlation with heat level, as growing conditions which increase heat level also cause the pepper to form scars. For US consumer markets, 'corking' is considered unattractive; however, in other markets, it is a looked for trait, particularly in pickled or oil preserved jalapeños.
The majority of the capsaicin and related compounds are concentrated in the placenta membrane surrounding the seeds. If fresh chili peppers come in contact with the skin, eyes, lips or other membranes, irritation can occur; some people who are particularly sensitive wear latex or vinyl gloves while handling peppers, if irritation does occur washing the oils off with hot soapy water and applying vegetable oil to the skin may help. When preparing jalapeños, it is recommended that hands not come in contact with the eyes as this leads to burning and redness.
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.
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 is often used as a remedy for seasonal allergies and clearing sinuses from colds and cardiovascular problems. Jalapeños are a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C, ripe red jalapeños being higher in both than green though the nutritional values given are for raw green jalapeño which is still a good source of both. Jalapeños are considered to be high in antioxidants and are lower in capsaicin and in flavonoids than other peppers, but as they are often eaten green are higher in chlorophylls compared to other peppers. Jalapeños are higher in vitamin E, vitamin K, and vitamin B6 than other peppers.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||121.336 kJ (29.000 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||2.8 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||
|Capsaicin||0.01g – 6 g|
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
The Jalapeño is the state pepper of Texas adopted in 1995. Jalapeños have flown in space, first reported as flying on the Space Shuttle Columbia during STS-5 in 1982, they were taken on board by William B. Lenoir given to him by fellow Astronaut Sherwood C. Spring "Woody", who had grown them, and the mission logs record: "'tell Woody the jalapenos are outstanding.'". The Guinness World Records for most jalapeños eaten in a minute is 16 by Alfredo Hernandes on 17 September 2006 at La Costeña Feel the Heat Challenge in Chicago, IL, USA. Patrick Bertoletti holds the Major League Eating jalapeño records at 275 pickled jalapeños in 8 minutes on 1 May 2011, and 191 pickled jalapeños in 6.5 minutes on 16 September 2007 in the 'Short-Form'. Joaquín Guzman "El Chapo" leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel operated a cannery in Guadalajara producing "Comadre Jalapeños" in order to ship cocaine to the US.
A jalapeño plant with pods. The purple strips on the stem are anthocyanin, due to the growth under blue-green spectrum fluorescent lighting
- 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.
- List of North American hot sauces
- Washington's Birthday Celebration in Laredo, Texas, which includes the annual Jalapeño Festival in February
- Scoville scale
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