The jalapeno is a small to medium-sized chile pepper that is prized for the hot, burning sensation that it produces in the mouth when eaten. Ripe, the jalapeno can be 2-3.5 inches and either red or more commonly green. It is a cultivar of the species Capsicum annuum. It is named after the city of Xalapa, Veracruz where it was traditionally produced. 160 square kilometres are dedicated for the cultivation of jalapeño in Mexico alone; primarily in the Paloapán river basin in the north of the state of Veracruz and in the Delicias, Chihuahua area. Jalapeño is also cultivated in smaller scale in Jalisco, Nayarit, Sonora, Sinaloa and Chiapas. The jalapeño is known by different names throughout Mexico. Jalapeños are also known as cuaresmenos, huachinangos and chiles gordos.
As of 1999, 5,500 acres in the United States were dedicated to the cultivation of jalapeños. Most jalapeños were produced in Southern New Mexico and West Texas.
Jalapeños are a pod type of Capsicum. The growing period for a jalapeño plant is 70-80 days. When mature, the plant stands two and half to three foot tall. Typically, a single plant will produce twenty five to thirty five pods. During a growing period, a plant will be picked multiple times. As the growing season comes to an end, the jalapeños start to turn red. The fresh market is for green jalapeños and red jalapeños are considered inferior. Growers either discard the red jalapeños into the ground or use them for the production of chipotles.
Jalapeno Scoville Rating
In comparison with other chile peppers, the jalapeño has a heat level that varies from mild to hot depending on cultivation and preparation. Most sources agree that the heat, due to capsaicin and related compounds, is concentrated in the seeds and the veins — deseeding and deveining can reduce the heat imparted to a recipe that includes jalapeños. They also have a distinct acidic taste. The jalapeño rates between 2,500 and 10,000 Scoville units in heat. Handling fresh jalapeños may cause mild skin irritation in some individuals. Some handlers choose to wear latex or vinyl gloves while cutting, skinning, or seeding jalapeños.