Are you ready to put some heat in your produce? We hope so, because our vendors are bringing out the jalapeños!
Despite their spicy reputation, jalapeño chiles are actually only considered to be of mild to moderate heat on the pepper scale, coming in at only 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville heat units (for comparison, habanero peppers measure between 100,000 and 350,000 SCU). Don’t be disappointed; this low heat index means jalapeños can appeal to many palates and is versatile in the kitchen. You can add them to sauces, salsas, marinades, and even jellies for an extra kick, or you can enjoy them fried, sauteed, roasted, or pickled. Jalapeño poppers in particular are a popular appetizer at potlucks and dinner tables alike.
Red jalapeños that have been smoked and dried are known as chipotle peppers, and can be used in much the same way as normal jalapeños for adding spice to your favorite dishes. The added bonus is that, since they have been smoked and dried, they impart a delicious smoky flavor to whatever you add them to and can be stored for a much longer time than fresh jalapeños. You can even grind chipotles into a powder to use like you would any other powdered spice.
(Interested in making your own chipotle peppers? You can learn how here.)
Besides making chipotle peppers, there are a number of other ways you can preserve jalapeños for use throughout the year. The University of California has a wonderful in-depth guide to preserving and storing jalapeños and other peppers here.
Whenever you prepare jalapeño peppers, make sure to wear gloves and avoid touching your eyes with unwashed hands. The capsaicin in the raw peppers can sting your hands and hurt (a lot) if you get it in your eyes.
Since jalapeños are a tropical plant (they originated in Mexico), they can be a challenge to grow in western Oregon’s cold, wet climate. However, if you choose the right varieties and use the right techniques, you can enjoy them in your very own garden. If growing peppers outdoors is intimidating, you also have the option of growing them as a potted plant within your home.
When you’re shopping for or harvesting jalapeños, pay attention to their color. While jalapeños can come in many varieties with different colors, the jalapeño ripening process generally goes from bright green to dark green to black and, finally, red. Jalapeños tend to become milder and sweeter as they ripen. As such, the degree of ripeness at which you want to use a jalapeño pepper ultimately depends on personal taste and what you intend to use it for.
Ready to put some punch in your produce? Check out our jalapeño vendors here.
Quick and Easy Sliced Pickled Jalapeños
Recipe from anoregoncottage.com
This recipe is for pickled jalapeños that can either be canned or stored in the refrigerator.
2½–3 lbs jalapeños
14 garlic cloves
4 cups cider vinegar
1–1½ cups water
1 tablespoon pickling salt
Wash jalapeños, cut off stem tops and slice into ¼ inch rings. (Tip: to reduce the spice of the peppers, you can also remove the seeds). Cut each garlic clove in half.
Add the jalapeño slices and garlic cloves to 6-7 warm pint canning jars (use 4 pieces of of the garlic clove halves per jar), leaving about ¾ inch of headspace.
Heat the water, vinegar, and salt to boiling in a large saucepan, then reduce to a simmer while pouring it into the jars.
Using a ladle, pour the mixture over the peppers in the jars (if you will be canning the peppers, leave ½ inch of headspace).
Wipe the rims of the jars and screw on the two-piece lids (you may reuse old lids).
Label and refrigerate
Wipe the rims of the jars and screw on the two-piece lids (they must be new).
Seal the jars in a water-bath canner for 10 minutes.