Lovers of Tex–Mex food who crave a spicy accent in their dishes are very fond of the jalapeno chili pepper, and with good reasons. Jalapenos offer a range of heat levels depending on type and always deliver on fresh, earthy flavor for taking recipes to the next level.
Read on and learn all about selecting top quality jalapenos, prepping them right, cutting and chopping them in your kitchen, and enjoy some premium jalapeno recipes that’ll get you excited about heat in the kitchen!
Choosing the best quality jalapenos
Follow these tips to buy the best jalapenos:
- Choose yellow or green jalapenos for mild heat, and orange or red jalapenos for a stronger heat.
- White or brown lines on the jalapeno skin that look like stretch marks mean the pepper is very hot, so use these for high heat. If you’re looking for mild heat, buy entirely smooth skinned jalapenos.
- The red jalapenos will typically be sweeter in flavor than the green.
- If purchasing jalapenos in plastic wrap, remove them into a container that offers some air flow around the peppers to avoid ‘sweating’/moisture build – up and decay setting in.
- Chat to your grocer: there are different cultivars of jalapeno bred specifically for certain things. Some are high in heat whilst others are mild but have more sweetness. Decide what you want flavor wise, and your grocer should be able to help you pick your peppers wisely!
Preparing jalapenos for cutting – all you need to know
Make sure to protect your hands with latex gloves so that the oils from the jalapenos don’t burn your hands or eyes!
Wash thoroughly before use
Jalapenos have been shown to harbor bacteria on the skin, so hygienic preparation is important. Wash the jalapenos well in plain warm water and dry well afterwards. You can also spray the outside of the peppers with a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar. Then rinse them well afterwards and dry with a clean cloth.
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Trimming and deseeding your jalapenos
Keep cut off bits of your peppers for making stock or be ecologically friendly and put them onto your compost heap. If you’re removing the seeds, you can use them to grow your own jalapeno plants if you like, and here’s how.
To trim your jalapenos follow these steps:
- Place each pepper lengthwise or horizontally in front of you on your cutting board.
- Using your knife, cut off the cap end where the stalk is, about 1/8 inch, and discard this or put it aside in your remnants bowl.
- Continue cutting off all the stem ends of your peppers until they’re all trimmed.
To deseed the jalapeno peppers:
- Cut each trimmed pepper in half lengthwise, from end to end in other words.
- Place each half of pepper with the seeds facing uppermost in front of you and gently scrape out the seeds and pith matter with your teaspoon.
- Put the seeds and pith aside for your compost, for stock, for growing yourself, or for discarding later.
- Note: Removing the seeds and pith will remove a lot of the heat of the pepper, so if you want very high heat in your dish you can skip deseeding. If you’re preparing food for finicky guests who aren’t big on spicy, it’s best to deseed thoroughly.
- Want the seeds out but the pepper left whole? Cut off the cap/stem end of the pepper and use a thin knife blade to scrape around gently in the interior of the pepper, working the knife blade around the pepper’s shell. Once the seeds are loosened hold the pepper open end down above your remnants bowl and tap it firmly, the seeds will fall out easily.
Tip: If you’ve forgotten to wear gloves or somehow got the burning jalapeno juice on your skin, rub the affected area well with vinegar, this will neutralize the jalapeno capsaicin and stop the irritation.
Cutting your jalapenos with ease – here’s how!
Cutting a jalapeno into rings and half – moons
Rounds or half – moons of jalapeno are just the thing for topping nachos or pizzas. Here’s how:
- Take a whole, trimmed jalapeno and place it on the cutting board in front of you horizontally, and slice down with your sharp knife from one end to the other in small increments. Hold the jalapeno in place with your non – knife hand.
- For chunkier rounds of jalapeno, space your cuts a bit wider apart. For very fine rounds of jalapeno, space your cuts very close together.
- If you want halved rings of jalapeno, cut each jalapeno in half along its length and place it horizontally in front of you with its seed cavity facing down on the board, and squash it down to give a flattish cutting area. Hold it in place with the fingers on your non – knife hand.
- Proceed to cut down in small increments from one end of the pepper half to the other. This will give you half rings or half moons of jalapeno to use.
- For both of these cutting methods deseed the jalapeno prior to cutting if you don’t want the seeds.
Dicing a jalapeno into blocks
Dicing a jalapeno gives you very small pieces of the pepper which can be distributed throughout the food. This spreads the heat gently and ensures that nobody gets a huge, fiery hot piece of pepper in their mouth!
Follow these steps below:
- Trim and deseed your jalapenos (if you don’t want the seeds) and cut each jalapeno into half along its length.
- Place each jalapeno half seed cavity down on the board and press it flat so that it’s easier to slice.
- Working along the length of the jalapeno, slice through it, spacing your cuts close together so that you end up with fine strips of jalapeno.
- Once all of the jalapeno is cut into strips, collect those strips together in an even bunch with your fingers and tap them together so that they’re neatly stacked like a deck of cards.
- Holding the pile of jalapeno strips together with your non – knife hand and having them running horizontal in front of you, start at one end of the pile and cut through in small increments vertically.
- Continue with the vertical cuts until you’ve reached the end of the pile.
- You will be left with jalapeno dice or blocks which you can now sprinkle over foods or use in recipes for a spicy highlight.
Jalapeno recipes for you to try at home!
These are crowd pleasers at any gathering and convenient too – the filling is ‘make ahead’ and these poppers can be made in advance and reheated for serving. They’re winners in the snack category and go great with ice cold beer or cider.
Quick pickled garlic jalapenos
This is a zesty pickle just brimming with healthy goodness. It’ll add garlicky depth and jalapeno bite to a main dish or can be eaten on crackers or flat breads.
Jalapeno peppers are not just delicious, but also high in many essential vitamins and nutrients which makes them both healthy and zesty eating.
We hope that this look at the delightful jalapeno pepper has given you some useful info on getting the best out of this deservedly popular chili pepper and that you’re inspired to include hearty jalapenos in your kitchen at home.
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