Jalapeño peppers

Eye ong eh on ire! Ater Ater! While some of us are unsure what was just said, the rest of us are having hysterical images of ourselves rolling on the floor laughing at our silly friend that decided that he or she could eat a jalapeño pepper whole.

Native to Mexico, the jalapeño has found a special place in The United States. You can find it in just about everything, from breads and pasta, to savory desserts and drinks. This three inch long pepper is commonly a bright green, though there is a red variety that is both sweeter and milder.

That little kick of spice that we get from the chili peppers comes from a compound call capsaicin. It is found in all the hot chili peppers, and nowhere else. The capsaicin is an odorless tasteless substance that is produced by the glands of the pepper’s placenta, that is located at the top portion, right below the stem. The placenta is about sixteen times hotter then the rest of the pepper.  This part is commonly removed along with the seeds. Leaving the placenta intact will give you an even stronger, hot flavor.

If you find that the jalapeños, or other, hot chili peppers, are just too much for you, do not drink water. Capsaicin is not soluble in cold water. Drinking water to cool your tongue will only spread the spice around your mouth, instead try milk or sugar to beat that heat.

Jalapeño recipes come in all types of hot levels. If you are not use to this chilli pepper, choose something that calls for a little jalapeño, you can adjust the quantity as your taste levels evolve.  Some of my favorite recipes include garlic jalapeno jelly, jalapeno chile poppers and stuffed jalapeno with crab meat, all of which are great appetizers. Pickling your jalapeños is one way of saving them for future use.

If you are already a fan of the jalapeño, try mixing in a dash of powdered pepper, or a few slivers of freshly cut to your favorite recipes, it will add a new kick to the food. And remember to handle them carefully, so you don’t end up like your friend, halaheeenoooos ock!

Erin M. Phelan combines cooking, writing and talking about food with her love for the countryside. She has been a modern homesteader and raised her own organic food when Erin was living in a lovely farm in Kansas, with her husband and young children. You can read about her adventures in her blog, A Homesteading Neophyte; her recipes have been published regularly at All Foods Natural and World Food and Wine, among others.