When to plant jalapeno?

Contents

Important Tips For Growing Jalapeños

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Hello Hot Gardening…

Hot peppers offer wonderful variety both for culinary creation and cultivation. Jalapeño peppers are a popular choice for home cultivation because they live in the medium range of the Scoville “heat” scale for peppers, which makes them a versatile ingredient for many dishes.

We share some important tips below for growing jalapeños; follow them and you’ll be provided with abundant yields of this popular chili to share with family and friends.

About jalapeños

The jalapeño pepper is without argue the most popular variety of chili pepper around the world. The name “jalapeño” comes from the region where it was originally grown, Xalapa, Veracruz. Jalapeños originated in Mexico, but they are now grown globally due to high demand. It adds heat to dishes, but it’s not so hot as to be unpleasant for most people to eat. In fact, many think it’s “just right” in terms of spiciness.

Jalapeño uses

Jalapeño peppers can be used in a variety of ways. They are often hollowed out and stuffed with seafood, chopped poultry or cheese, and baked to a soft consistency. They can be pickled and used as a spicy condiment for tacos, hamburgers, and other foods. They are often sliced and used in Mexican and Vietnamese dishes, as well as chopped up and added to salsa recipes and chili recipes. They can also be made into a flavorful hot pepper jelly. Their versatility in the kitchen makes jalapeños the perfect choice for home gardening.

Jalapeño “heat”

The jalapeño pepper is rated between 2,500 and 8,000 Scoville heat units on the Scoville scale, which puts them in the “medium” range of intensity. The Scoville scale was developed by an American pharmacist in 1912. The scale measures the amount of capsaicin, the component that produces the pungent heat in peppers. The “medium” intensity of jalapeños makes them easy to incorporate into many dishes. It’s a terrific chili to experiment with in the kitchen.

How to grow jalapeños

Growing jalapeños will provide a leafy and attractive plant, full of red and green peppers, that makes it an interesting addition to any garden area. Jalapeño pepper plants will thrive if you provide a few critical conditions:

  • Jalapeño plants dislike the cold; so wait until outdoor temperatures stay between 65 at night and 75 to 85 during the day to ensure that they do not fail.
  • You can start plants from seed indoors about 8 to 12 weeks before transplanting them outdoors. You can also purchase started plants from your local garden center.
  • Plant in an area that gets sunlight most of the day. Jalapeños thrive on light.
  • Plant in a well-draining potting mix that contains plenty of organic material.
  • Space plants 14 to 16 inches apart to allow good air circulation. This measure will help to prevent mold and fungus growth on plants.
  • Keep the soil moist but not wet. Jalapeño plants can tolerate some drought, but the plant will produce more peppers if moisture is available.
  • Use a plant cage or other support when pepper yield becomes heavy.

When to pick jalapeños

A mature plant will grow to two to three feet tall and will produce thirty to forty pepper pods. Jalapeños can be picked when they reach about two to three inches long or when they develop “stress stripes” on the exterior flesh. The pepper pods can be picked multiple times during the growing season. You can pick jalapeño peppers either when they are green or after they turn red.

Green jalapeños are slightly crisper, but slightly milder in heat. Jalapeños are usually used when they are green, but waiting until the redness develops can provide a subtle sweetness and a bump to their medium-intensity heat. The mix of red and green peppers also provides an attractive presentation for dishes.

Jalapeno Plant Care – How To Grow Jalapeno Peppers

The jalapeno pepper plant is a member of the hot pepper family and shares company with other fiery hot varieties such as tobacco, cayenne and cherry. Jalapenos are the only pepper that isn’t allowed to fully ripen and change color before being picked. Growing jalapeno peppers isn’t difficult if you provide plants with good soil, plenty of sunlight and ample water.

How to Grow Jalapeno Peppers

Peppers, including jalapenos, do best in loamy, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. Full sun and warm temperatures are also important when growing jalapeno peppers.

Jalapenos thrive in warm conditions and need temperatures between 65 and 80 F. (18-27 C.) to germinate. Temperature is critical, and unless it’s warm enough, pepper seeds won’t sprout and transplants won’t survive. It’s best to wait until at least two weeks after planting tomatoes

to plant jalapeno peppers in the garden. In contrast, jalapeno pepper plants will not produce an abundance of fruit when the temperature is over 90 F. (32 C.)

Although jalapeno plant care isn’t difficult, plants must be kept watered during hot, dry spells. It’s best to avoid getting water on the fruit; therefore, drip irrigation is the best form of watering for jalapeno plants.

Jalapeno Plant Problems

Jalapenos are nightshade plants like tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant, and are vulnerable to similar diseases and pest problems. Keeping pepper plants well-watered and your garden area clean of rotting debris will help to keep pest problems to a minimum.

Cutworms, aphids, and flea beetles are common pests of the pepper plant. Spray plants with a heavy shot of water to knock off aphids or use an organic insecticide, like neem oil. Worms or caterpillars should be picked off plants and thrown away. It is a good idea to check plants daily for pests.

Harvesting Jalapeno Pepper Plant

Another aspect of jalapeno plant care involves proper harvesting. Harvest jalapeno peppers by pinching them carefully from the stem when they are firm and solid-colored, before they turn color.

Reserve jalapenos for dishes that require very hot peppers. You can dry jalapenos, freeze them or use them in salsas and sauces, if you dare!

Learning how to grow jalapeno peppers is a great way to provide some extra zip in your food dishes. In addition, proper care of your peppers will help prevent any future jalapeno plant problems.

A food production wiki for public health professionals

Key Facts

  • The majority of the U.S. commercial jalapeño supply is grown in New Mexico, Texas, and California but many small farms throughout the southwest grow peppers for sale to local markets. Jalapeños are also imported to the U.S. and imported peppers were the source of a large Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak in 2008.
  • Peppers are often an ingredient used in making fresh salsa and guacamole and their role in foodborne illness outbreaks may not have been fully credited in the past. Between 1973 and 2008, 136 salsa- or guacamole-associated outbreaks were reported with over 5600 total illnesses.
  • During the growing season, a pepper plant will be harvested multiple times overall, producing about 25 to 35 pods per plant.
  • Pepper pungency is rated in terms of ‘Scovolle heat units” and jalapeños can range from 2,500 to 10,000 Scoville units.
  • Chipotles are ripened jalapeños which have been smoked and much of their moisture removed. Jalapeños seeds are called picante and are used to add a spicy flavor to many cuisines.

Introduction

The jalapeño pepper is a medium-sized chili pepper. A mature jalapeño is the length of 2-3 inches and is typically picked and consumed while still green. Occasionally they are allowed to fully ripen and turn red in color. Capsicum is derived from the Greek word, kapos, “to bite”. The heat comes from a group of alkaloid chemicals called capsaicinoids, principally capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin. These oily compounds are very soluble in fat and alcohol, but insoluble in water.

Jalapeños are rich in vitamins A and C, contain carotene (an antioxidant), and have been shown to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides. Capsaicin is also used for relieving pain from shingles (Herpes zoster) and diabetic nerve degeneration. The heat produced from the capsaicin triggers the hypothalamus gland to begin cooling thus, capsaicin is used as a natural cooling agent when applied exteriorly. Capsaicin ointments are available for the relief of sore muscle and arthritis pain.

Anatomy

The basic anatomy of a jalapeño pepper includes the placenta or the capsaicin glands. Capsaicin is produced by the glands between the placenta and the endocarp. The highest concentration of the capsaicin is found closer to the seeds of the pepper. However contrary to popular belief, the seeds themselves do not produce capsaicin, but can absorb some capsaicin. The exocarp is the outer layer of the pepper known as the skin. The mesocarp is located in the center of the pepper and holds most of the absorbed water while also providing structural support for the pepper. The endocarp is the membrane layer surrounding the seeds of the pepper. The seeds are an edible part of the pepper however they contain little capsaicin and are not a contributor to the flavor profile. The calyx or crown is where the pepper sprouts and the pod begins to develop. This area of the pepper is normally dry and leaf like, the connector between the flavorful pepper and the stem. The apex has the least amount of capsaicin and thus contributes the least amount of heat.

Scoville Scale (Heat)

The Scoville scale is a measurement of heat or pungency, named for an American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville. The Scoville test was designed in 1912 to measure the capsaicin sensitivity of testers. The Scoville heat unit (SHU) scale is not precise but is a method to measure capsaicinoid concentration. Normal capsaicin concentration is estimated to be ~18mM/SHU. The actual assessment of the heat of a pepper is estimated by measuring the amount of alcohol extract of the capsaicin oil of the dried pepper. Panelists taste the pepper with varying additions of sugar and water to determine the difference between the heat of peppers until the heat is barely detectable. The degree of dilution is then used to measure with the Scoville scale. Thus, a sweet pepper or bell pepper containing no capsaicin at all has a Scoville rating of zero meaning no heat is detectable.

Common Jalapeño Varieties

Señorita Jalapeño

Senorita

The Señorita jalapeño pepper appears dark green in color, eventually turning purple and finally red when left on the vine until mature. The plant grows to nearly 2 feet high. The pepper pod typically grows three inches long and one and a half inches wide. The maturity period for these peppers is eighty days from seed to harvest. The Señorita pepper is very hot and typically registers 5,000 SHU on the Scoville scale.

Fresno Chile

Fresno chili

The Fresno Chile jalapeño pepper is closely related to the Señorita pepper. However, it takes less time to grow to maturity and produces smaller, milder fruit. The peppers are small in size measuring only about 2 inches in length. On the Scoville scale these peppers are registered as mild reaching only 300-400 SHU.

Sierra Fuego

The Sierra Fuego jalapeño pepper is a hybrid which produces a large amount of peppers per plant. This pepper measures 3.5 inches long and 1.5 inches wide when mature, which typically takes 80 days. The pepper is mildly hot and grows from dark green in color to red with maturity.

Sierra Fuego

Mucho Nacho

The Mucho Nacho jalapeño pepper is a fast maturing hybrid. The plant can reach full maturity in sixty-eight days, from seed to harvest. The peppers from this plant are longer in length, about 4 inches. This pepper is known for its large size and flavor without extensive heat.

Foodborne Outbreaks

Mucho Nacho

Jalapeño peppers are susceptible to microbial contamination via irrigation water or improper handling and have been implicated in foodborne illness outbreaks. Most notably, a Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak in 2008 was linked to raw produce, including jalapeño and serrano peppers, which involved more than 1500 cases of salmonellosis. An outbreak of Type B botulism was linked to commercially canned hot peppers in 1973. It was determined peppers, which tend to be neutral in pH, were not properly acidified before processing. Peppers are often an ingredient used in making fresh salsa and guacamole and their role in foodborne illness outbreaks may not have been fully credited in the past. Between 1973 and 2008, 136 salsa- or guacamole-associated outbreaks were reported with over 5600 total illnesses.

Production

Soil Preparation

Jalapeños and other hot pepper varieties grow best in a sandy loam soil, which is classified as soil consisting of approximately equal parts sand, silt, and clay. Well-drained sandy loam soil is ideal for growing warm-weather produce such as peppers, tomatoes, melons, and citrus. In addition to the texture and consistency of the soil, jalapeño producers also monitor the pH levels and soil nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium). Pepper plants grow optimally in slightly-acidic soil with a pH between 6.0-6.8. The soil can be supplemented with starter solutions of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to ensure rapid growth after the transplantation. Plants that do not grow rapidly enough will begin to bloom and fruit set, leaving small or stunted plants. Stunted plants will not produce as large of yields, and can be less robust against the weather.

Planting and Irrigation

Jalapeño seedlings one week after planting.

Jalapeños peppers can be planted using two different methods, direct seeding or transplanting. There are two planting seasons for producing jalapeños, a spring period (March-April) and a fall period (late July-August). Direct seeding in the spring should occur once soil temperatures are above 60⁰F, whereas direct seeding in the fall should occur approximately 120 days prior to the first frost. Transplanting, the more common of the two methods, should occur after the last frost in the spring and approximately 85-100 days prior to the first frost in the fall. Transplanting is often preferred over direct seeding due to easier weed control, more consistent fruit set, and reduced seed cost.

Prior to transplanting, jalapeño plants are typically grown in greenhouses. After about 4-6 weeks of growth, they are transplanted either by hand or machine into the fields. Transplanted peppers are often spaced 12-16 inches apart in rows with approximately 36 inches between. For direct seeding methods, seeds are planted in raised beds with an average of 2-6 inches between seedlings.

Jalapeño flower with fruit set.

Pepper varieties are warm climate crops, and can be highly sensitive to extreme weather exposure. Optimum fruit set yields the best when the temperature stays within the range of 65⁰-80⁰ F. Jalapeños and chili peppers tend to be more robust than bell pepper plants and can maintain proper growth and fruit set at higher temperatures. For jalapeño growth specifically, the combination of hot days (85⁰-95⁰F) with cool nights (65⁰-70⁰F) provides the optimal environment for high fruit yield.

Jalapeño crops require moderate to high amounts of watering, depending on the surrounding environment. In more humid areas, moisture stressing seedlings 25-30 days after planting can facilitate better root development. In drier climates, moisture stressing the seedlings might not have the same effect. For commercial jalapeño production, overhead and drip irrigation are the two most common methods used for watering crops. Proper irrigation is crucial to these warm climate plants to maintain consistent soil moisture. If under-watered, pepper plants can have a difficult time recovering from drought and can cause shedding of flowers and fruit. Over-watering can cause root-rotting and growth of plant harming organisms.

Harvesting and Handling

For spring jalapeño planting, harvest will occur in June. For fall planting, harvest will begin in October and last until the first frost. Time until harvest will also varying depending on whether jalapeños were grown through direct seeding or transplanting. Harvest for direct seeding crops will occur approximately 110-120 days after planting, whereas transplanted crops will be ready after approximately 75-85 days. Fully mature jalapeños should have a firm, glossy, green skin with solid pods approximately 2-2.5 inches in length. The AgriLife Extension at the Texas A&M Department of Horticulture advises that crop yield will be maximized if harvest is postponed until 5-10% of the fruit have turned red. Peppers are graded and divided into two categories: market grade versus processing grade. Market grade jalapeños are sold fresh in grocery stores and can be sold with stem. Processing grade jalapeños are required to have the stem removed. On average, 8-10 tons per acre of jalapeños and other hot pepper varieties can be harvested. To ensure integrity and quality of the jalapeño, it is necessary to maintain proper holding temperatures. Peppers are sensitive to injury if held in temperatures below 45⁰F. They can be optimally maintained at 50⁰-55⁰F in 80% humidity for 2-3 weeks.

For more information regarding the production and distribution of Jalapeño Peppers please visit the Produce Point of Origin Database.

Food Safety

Like any other fruit or vegetable, peppers can be contaminated by pathogens from the soil, water, animals, or human sources. Peppers need to be washed with cool, clean water prior to eating or preparing and dried with paper towels. Some commercially produced jalapeños may have a light food grade wax applied on the outside of the pepper to reduce moisture loss, prevent bruising during shipment and storage, and extend shelf life. This wax can be removed by lightly scrubbing.

Jalapeños should be stored wrapped in paper towels on an upper shelf in the refrigerator. Jalapeño peppers should last up to three weeks in this type of storage.

Halved jalapeños with seeds and veins.

Jalapenos are susceptible to chilling injury; the optimal storage environment is 40-45°F (in a commercial setting but stored at 40°F or below in a retail or home refrigerator) and high relative humidity (90-95 percent). Jalapenos may over ripen and the skin will wrinkle.

Gloves should be worn while handling hot peppers. The eyes, nose, and mouth areas are prone to irritation from capsaicin content. If exposed to capsaicin while handling or preparing jalapenos, the area should be rinsed immediately with water or a milk soaked towel applied over the area. Additionally, the heat intensity of jalapenos can be lowered during preparation by cutting open jalapenos, removing veins and seeds. Soaking in salt water for at least one hour will decrease the heat even more.

Consumption

Preference for chili peppers in the United States has continued to increase throughout the decade. This increase in chili pepper consumption is driven by both changes in the American diet, desire for new flavors, and overall diversification of the population. From 1995 to 2005, the consumption of chili peppers has increased by 38% from an average of 4.3 pounds per person in 1993-1995 to 5.9 pounds per person in 2003-2005.

More information on keeping peppers stored safely can be located at FoodKeeper App.

Nutrition

The nutritional properties of peppers range greatly depending on the variety and maturity. One cup of sliced raw jalapeños is considered to be a serving and contains only 27 calories, mostly from carbohydrates and some protein. There are also vitamins and minerals in one serving of jalapeños including 14% of the daily requirement of Vitamin A, 66% Vitamin C, 1% Calcium and 4% Iron. Red peppers contain lycopene and have been shown to reduce the risk for certain types of cancers. Red peppers are also a source of vitamin B6. Bell peppers have a high concentration of beta-carotene which has been shown to reduce the risk for macular degeneration and cataracts. Green peppers also contain fiber, folate, and Vitamin K.

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When To Pick Jalapeños: A Primer For Fielding The Freshest Flavors

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Lucky you!

You’re growing jalapeños, seeing the fruits age, and likely salivating like Pavlov’s dog to get them from plant to plate. But when’s the right time? What should you look for that’ll signify when to pick jalapeños for the absolute best flavor? Well, that depends on whether you want them for fresh use or for drying. Let’s review both so that you’ll have the best flavor possible.

When to pick jalapeños for fresh use

First – let’s put it out there that you can eat jalapeños no matter what their age. But the plant does have tells that speak to just the right moment for perfect flavor. Look for these during the three to four-month mark, when the pepper is in its green prime:

  • The jalapeño’s skin is green and glossy. There’s a sheen to it that makes the pepper look very appealing.
  • The chili takes on a plump firmness, signifying the jalapeño has likely reached its growing peak.
  • There may be slight color splotches of orange and red. These would be small areas. This signifies that the pepper has reached near the end of its green color cycle.
  • There may be some skin cracks around the pepper’s curves. These aren’t a bad thing, nor do they detract from flavor. It’s simply a tell that the time is right to pick your peppers.

Now you can keep the jalapeños on the vine and let them age to full red maturity. Red jalapeños are not as common in stores, as they don’t have the tasty bright bite of the green jalapeño. Instead, they are slightly sweeter and hotter, due to the increased capsaicin from further aging.

When to pick jalapeños for drying

Whether you’re simply drying the chilies or making chipotle peppers by smoking them too, you’ll want to bring your chilies to full red maturity for the best drying flavor. Green jalapeños simply don’t dry as well.

Keep the jalapeños on the vine past their green prime. They’ll change colors, turning dark green (it can seem blackish), then to shades of orange, and finally to a rich red. When they’ve reached this moment, don’t dawdle in harvesting. These chilies are in jeopardy of falling off the plant which can lead to rot. Pick as soon as possible and begin the drying process.

What should you do if you harvested your jalapeños too early?

Just like other fruits and vegetables, jalapeños can continue to ripen off the vine. Just make sure you provide some light to the chilies, like setting them on a windowsill. Beware too much direct sunlight here, as this can start the drying process. North/south facing windows work the best to help promote ripening without drying.

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Are you as much a fan of spicy food as I am? I can’t think of many meals that don’t taste better with a kick of heat. Learning how to grow jalapenos in your own garden will provide you with fresh hot peppers for all kinds of cooking.

I have to be honest:

We always grow way more jalapenos than we can eat or even share, but I just love pepper plants so much. Jalapeno plants are quite beautiful when the plants are loaded with peppers all turning colors.

In the kitchen, Jalapenos are one of the most versatile spicy peppers you can use. They can be eaten fresh, roasted, and dehydrated to use in appetizers, flavor main dishes, and homemade sauces. But we’ll get to that in just a minute.

How to grow jalapenos from seeds

Start your jalapenos seeds about 8 weeks before your last frost date. (I use this tool to help me decide when to start all my seeds.)

Set the seeds in germination mix no more than one centimeter (about 1/2 inch) deep. For containers, you don’t need anything fancy. Try one of these upcycled seed starting pots.

All peppers need warm soil to germinate. Give your peppers the best chance by placing them on a heat mat with thermometer and set the temperature to 75-80 degrees.

Pepper seedlings started in a salad container. Note the heat matt underneath and the shop light above.

Pepper seeds can be slow to sprout so give them up to 14 days. There are a few things that can prevent good germination, but with appropriate temps and moisture, pepper seeds are pretty easy to sprout.

Transplant seedlings, if needed, when they get their first true leaves. And start the process to harden them off about a week before they go out in the garden.

To harden them off simply means to gradually get them used to full sun by taking them outside for a few hours a day for several days in a row.

Two to three weeks after the last chance of frost, set out young jalapeno plants where they will receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.

Pepper plants will grow happily in the garden or containers. They just need to be planted level with their root ball and will benefit from a light mulch like straw around the base.

For best production, water deeply especially during the hottest days of summer and fertilize every 2-4 weeks.

Supplies needed to grow jalapenos

✔️Jalapeno seeds: I love buying from Seeds Now

✔️Seed starting tray: I like trays with lids like this

✔️Seed starting mix: We use this seed starting medium

✔️Heat matt with thermometer: This one is similar to what we use

✔️Organic fertilizer: We’re big fans of Neptune’s Harvest

Pest and disease issues with jalapenos

Fortunately, jalapenos are not plagued by many pests or diseases. Usually, problems start later in the season when the bugs have already devoured all the other plants.

But you can see any of the usual garden pests like Colorado potato beetle, armyworms, hornworms, and aphids. Bt and spinosad applied sparingly and only as needed are my preferred organic pest control choices.

Grasshoppers are the worst to chew a hole right in your pepper. And peppers are susceptible to blossom end rot and sunscald just like tomatoes.

They can also be affected by bacterial, viral, and fungal diseases just like tomatoes.

In my experience growing jalapeno peppers, they have been quite resilient in the face of disease pressure and will continue to grow and produce quite well despite a few spots on their leaves.

Jalapeno plants loaded with peppers. You can harvest jalapenos when they’re green or red.

When to pick jalapeno peppers

It takes about 90 days to grow jalapenos from seed to fruit. Harvest jalapenos when the fruit is firm and at a size you prefer.

The beauty of pepper plants is that they will continue to flower and fruit all summer. So don’t worry about picking your peppers too soon.

When deciding when to pick your peppers, remember this general rule:

A smaller, young pepper has a more immature (I call it green) flavor. A larger green pepper will have a nice balance of heat and a crisp fresh flavor.

As they turn red or brown, they get sweeter and hotter. Brown scars or lines are common, often desirable, and have no effect on taste.

To get more peppers, make sure to keep picking the peppers. Picking your peppers encourages the jalapeno plant to continue to make lots and lots of peppers.

You’ll get a larger harvest if you keep them well fed. An organic liquid fertilizer applied about one per month is beneficial.

Ways To Cook And Preserve Jalapenos

Eat them raw. We love eating raw jalapenos.

The flesh of a jalapeno has a unique sweet flavor that blends very nicely with the heat in a well-bred variety. On the Scoville scale, jalapenos generally fall within the 1000-10000 range, although there are varieties that are bred to have no heat at all.

Jalapenos rate relatively low on the Scoville scale.

Be careful when working with jalapenos. The capsaicin that gives it its spicy flavor will cause a burning sensation if you rub your eyes or other sensitive areas.

Even after you wash your hands very well, you can still burn your eyes. I’ve done it. More than once, unfortunately. It’s unpleasant. So it is generally recommended to use gloves to handle the seeds and inner parts of any hot pepper.

I’m using a tiny 1/4 teaspoon to get in and remove the whites and seeds inside a jalapeno without having to slice it open.

Stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon, is one of my favorite ways to eat a jalapeno. I use toothpicks and a muffin tin to prop the peppers up (or use a jalapeno popper tray) and bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bacon is crispy. Easy and delicious.

We like to stuff jalapenos with cheese and wrap them in bacon. Toothpicks and a muffin tin keep them together while they bake in the oven.

Roasted jalapenos are amazing! Roast them in the oven or on the grill, then stuff them, dice them, or whatever your heart desires.

Pickled Jalapenos Recipes

Here’s a step by step recipe for super easy pickled jalapenos.

Or make a homemade hot sauce with this recipe by Teri at Homestead Honey.

Sweet and spicy jalapenos recipes

Have you heard of cowboy candy? Check out this sweet and spicy recipe.

I adore jalapeno jelly. Check out this spicy jalapeno jelly recipe at Farm Fit Living.

How to freeze jalapenos

To freeze jalapenos, cut them in half and pull out seeds and whites. Lay them cut side down in a single layer on metal cookie sheet. Place them flat in freezer for at least an hour.

When they’re completely frozen, remove them and store them in plastic bags. Squeeze out all the air you can and put them back in the freezer.

You can also make a puree with fresh jalapenos and freeze them in an ice cube tray.

How to dehydrate jalapenos

Commercial dehydrators can cost a few hundred dollars, but you can also get dehydrators on Amazon for under $50.

Follow these directions for how to dry jalapeno peppers at Brown Thumb Mama.

You can also sub jalapenos for other hot peppers in recipes. Why not give it a shot with this recipe to make your own chili flakes from Liz at Eight Acres?

How To Save Seeds From Your Jalapeno Plant

To save seeds from your jalapeno plant, simply remove the seeds from peppers and lay them in a single layer on a paper towel or plate until they have dried out – about a week.

Store the seeds in a paper envelope in a cool dark place.

Do you love growing jalapenos?

Share your experience with us!

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Jalapeno Peppers – All About Them

Scoville Heat Units: 2,500 – 8,000 SHU

Origin: Mexico.

What is a Jalapeño Pepper?

A jalapeno pepper is a fruit of the Capsicum pod type. It is a medium sized hot pepper when compared to other chili peppers, measuring an average of 2-3.5 inches in length but growing up to 6 inches long or longer.

While originating in Mexico, it is now grown worldwide for it’s popular flavor and mild heat level, which averages around 5,000 Scoville Heat Units. That is hot, but not too hot.

You’ll find them served when green, but if you leave the jalapeno pepper on the plant long enough, it will turn red. The red variety are just as delicious as the green jalapeno pepper, though a touch sweeter.

The Meaning of Jalapeno

The name “jalapeno” is Spanish for “Jalapa” (or Xalapa), the capital of Veracruz, Mexico. Jalapenos were originally grown there, hence the name.

Other Names for Jalapeno

  • Huachinango – the ripe red jalapeno
  • Chile Gordo – “Fat Chili Pepper”
  • Cuaresmeño
  • Chipotle Pepper – a smoked jalapeno pepper

Anatomy of a Jalapeño Pepper

Growing Jalapeno Peppers

Growing jalapeno peppers is fairly easy because the plants are pretty forgiving. Jalapenos start off a bit slow, so it is helpful to start to grow your plants indoors a few weeks (anywhere from 8-12 weeks) before transferring them outside. Keep the early soil and budding plants constantly moist, but do not over water.

Learn more about growing jalapenos and other chili peppers here.

Or, check out this Guide to Growing Chili Peppers for helpful information.

About the Jalapeno Plants

A mature jalapeno pepper plant measures 2-3 feet in height and will typically produce around 30-40 jalapeno pepper pods. If you grow them in your own garden, pick them regularly, as the plant will continue to produce.

How Hot are Jalapeno Peppers? The Jalapeno Pepper Scoville Scale Rating

Since jalapeno peppers range between 2,500 and 8,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), the can be notably spicy, but they are not TOO spicy, depending on your tolerance.

If you compare the jalapeno pepper to the Hottest Peppers in the World, particular the Hottest Pepper in the World – The Carolina Reaper, you’ll find that jalapeno peppers are actually quite low on the Scoville Heat Scale.

Learn more about the Scoville Scale Here.

The Jalapeno Pepper – America’s Favorite Chile Pepper

America’s Favorite chile pepper is by far the jalapeño, a thick-fleshed pepper about 3 inches long (give or take). It’s a bright green little guy that can be lovingly incorporated into just about anything, from soups to Lemonade.

The majority of our jalapeño peppers come from Mexico, where the natives eat them as snack foods, plucking them in droves from sidewalk carts and fields. The red variety of the jalapeño is a bit milder than the green variety, and sweeter as well.

They are also milder than their cousin, the serrano pepper, another popular chile pepper, though not as widely known as our favorite, the jalapeño.

The Health Benefits of Jalapeno Peppers

A typical jalapeno pepper packs more vitamin C than an orange, so if you need your extra C, grab a jalapeno.

How much vitamin C, you ask? A single 14 gram jalapeno pepper contains 10% of your daily needs. According to Nutrition Data, a single 73 gram chili pepper contains 83%.

Jalapenos and other spicy chili peppers can also help you lose or control your weight.

Capsaicin, the chemical that makes chili peppers hot, is a thermogenic. Thermogenics stimulate the body’s burning of fat by increasing the metabolism of the body’s adipose tissue, generating heat.

For losing weight, a smart and healthy move is to drop fatty foods and replace them with some chili pepper spice, along with the inclusion of regular exercise, of course.

At Daegu University, Korea, biotechnologist Jong Won Yun and colleagues report that capsicum lowers caloric intake, shrinks fat tissue and reduces fat levels in the blood.

What Do Jalapeno Peppers Taste Like?

Jalapeño peppers taste very much like a serrano pepper, only with less heat.

I characterize the flavor of fresh jalapenos as bright, vegetable and very green, with a slight level of heat. Roasted jalapenos peppers are richer, slightly smoky, earthy with good heat.

Cooking with Jalapeno Peppers

Jalapeno peppers are by far one of my very favorite chili peppers. For me, they’re an everyday pepper. They’re not too hot, and contain just the right amount of heat for everyday use.

My wife has ZERO trouble eating foods made with jalapeno peppers. It’s basically a gateway pepper. You get the right amount of spice with them, but then soon you find yourself craving hotter and spicier foods. Excellent!

When cooking with them, use them as you would use a bell pepper. Remove the stem, chop them, then use them as the recipe calls for.

You can core the jalapenos to reduce the overall heat if you’d like. I like to leave the innards intact for that extra bit of kick.

Jalapenos are also wonderful when roasted. You can roast them over an open flame until the skins char and bubble, then peel them off. Or you can broil or bake them to roast them.

Learn how to roast chili peppers here.

I cook jalapenos into just about everything. Seriously, I love them so.

Below is a list of recipes to try that feature or incorporate jalapeno peppers.

Jalapeno Pepper Recipes

  • Candied Jalapenos (Cowboy Candy)
  • Jalapeno Jelly
  • Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers
  • Baked Cream Cheese Jalapeno Poppers
  • Jalapeno Bottle Caps (Breaded and Fried Jalapeno Peppers)
  • Creamy Jalapeno Sauce
  • Jalapeno Cheddar Chicken Wings
  • Kiwi Jalapeno Jam
  • Ancho-Jalapeno Hot Sauce
  • Pickled Jalapeno Peppers
  • Taqueria-Style Pickled Jalapenos and Carrots

Want to learn more about the Jalapeno?

  • What is the Scoville Scale?
  • Jalapeno Pepper Recipes
  • Jalapeno Pepper Health Benefits
  • 10 Ways to Use a Huge Jalapeno Harvest

This post was updated on 6/25/19 to include new information and photos. It was originally published on 9/22/2013.

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When do you harvest jalapeno peppers? Since they’re picked when they’re green (most of the time), it can be hard to tell. Peppers can be tricky to grow and a lot of years I end up spending more money and time than it’s worth to even plant them, except for jalapenos. I’m not a huge fan of hot stuff so usually by mid-season I’m giving extras away to my heat loving colleagues. I never really knew when to harvest them so I’d pick them whenever. There is a “correct” time so this year, I’m making sure they’re actually ready. Here’s how to determine when you should harvest your jalapeno peppers.

When to Harvest Jalapeno Peppers

Jalapenos go from green to darker green, to brownish red and then finally to red. They can be picked once they’ve turned dark green. Are my peppers green or dark green? Uhhh???? It can be really hard to tell what stage the jalapenos are at. The pepper at the top of the page is more of a light green – not ready to be picked. Some varieties (like the peppers I’m growing) experience something called “corking”. Corking is the tiny lines/splits in the skin of the pepper. Here’s an example of a jalapeno that’s ready to be picked. It’s dark green and corking. Most jalapenos are also about 3″ long when mature.

When red, the peppers are sweeter but softer in texture. You can definitely let your peppers turn red but remember that pepper plants have something called “fruit load”, which is the maximum amount of fruit weight that the plant can hold. Once it reaches the max fruit load then it will stop producing flowers; therefore, not producing any more fruit – which is not fun. Here’s a few I let turn red.

To harvest, snip the stems of the individual peppers using clippers or a sharp knife. Leave a small portion of the stem attached. Rinse and dry the peppers and store in the refrigerator.

When to Pick Jalapenos

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Knowing when fruit and vegetables are at their peak of ripeness can be a challenge for home gardeners. This is especially true with crops such as peppers that don’t change dramatically when ripe. The signs that jalapenos are ready to pick are subtle but distinct.

From Planting to Harvest

Jalapenos are a warm-weather crop and should not be planted outside until night temperatures stay above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Make a note of your planting date so that you know when to start looking for ripe fruit. Transplants produce mature fruit in 70 to 85 days, but when started outdoors directly from seed, jalapenos don’t bear ripe fruit for 100 to 120 days after planting. Because of this long wait time, many gardeners either start their plants indoors four to six weeks before their anticipated planting date or buy plants from garden centers. The actual number of days to harvest depends on the cultivar selected, cultural practices and weather conditions.

Judging Maturity

Jalapenos are usually picked when ripe but still green. Ready-to-pick fruit exhibit lines or small cracks on the shoulder, the curved area just under the stem, and sometimes darkened areas on the skin that indicate the fruit is about to change color. The skin should be smooth and shiny. Mature jalapenos are usually 2 to 3 1/2 inches long, but size depends on cultivar.

Color

Letting jalapenos turn red doesn’t increase their hotness but does result in softer-textured fruit with a higher vitamin content. Jalapenos allowed to change color on the vine don’t last as long fresh as when they’re picked green, so plan on using them within about a week or can them.

What to Avoid

Look for fruit with firm, smooth skin (except for the cracks on the shoulders) and solid stems. Discard jalapenos with soft, watery spots, or with punctured or wrinkled skin. These fruits are damaged or past their prime.

At the End of the Season

The first frost will kill your jalapeno plants, so pick all the remaining fruit, regardless of size when a frost is forecast. Even the immature fruit are tasty. Alternatively, pull the entire plant and hang it upside down in a protected spot; some of the fruit will continue to ripen.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers

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I remember well the first time I started growing jalapeño peppers in my vegetable garden. That was years ago, when growing jalapeño peppers was considered a novelty. Today, the popularity of growing jalapeño peppers and other hot chili peppers is burgeoning. Why? Just tune into the Food Network or pick up the latest food or gardening magazine and you’ll understand. Hot peppers have become mainstream! In fact, peppers were the herb of the year for 2016.

Lots of folks are growing jalapeño peppers and other varieties of hot chili peppers alongside their sweet bells. And the flavor is beyond anything in the sweet bell pepper family: a bit of sweetness and a good amount of spice and heat. Here are some tips for growing and using jalapeño peppers and other hot peppers.

Scoville Units: Some Like it Hot

Talking about heat, these members of the capsicum family have varying amounts of heat, called capsaicin. Capsaicin is measured by what is known as the Scoville scale or Scoville units. Developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912, this scale lets you know the heat component of chili peppers.

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From the fairly mild heat of Anaheims (up to 2,000 Scoville units) to the medium heat of jalapeños (up to 10,000 units) to the painfully hot varieties like Carolina Reaper (up to 1.5 million units), there’s a chili pepper variety for every taste and heat tolerance.

Good for You

Studies show that the capsaicin in peppers helps reduce bad cholesterol, helps control diabetes and relieves pain and inflammation.

Hot peppers are good sources of vitamins A and C and chock full of antioxidants.

How to Grow Peppers

If you’re new to growing hot peppers and wondering how to grow peppers, you should try growing jalapeño peppers. They are easy to grow, either from seed or established plants and are fairly disease free. I usually plant my jalapeños near my tomatoes and cucumbers, which are good garden companions and ensure healthy peppers by preventing pepper plant diseases.

To grow jalapeños and other varieties of hot peppers from seeds, you can either plant the seeds directly in the ground or containers if you live in a warm enough climate, or you can plan on growing seedlings indoors. I save my pepper seeds from year to year.

There are various methods to start seedlings indoors. I start eight to 10 weeks before the outside planting date. In my area here in Southwestern Ohio, that means starting the seeds in March for transplanting in the garden in late May or early June, when both the soil and air temperatures remain above 60 degrees. I plant mine in peat pots which can go directly into the garden. I plant the seeds about 1/2″ below the soil and water with hot water the first time. This speeds up germination, which can take up to a couple of weeks.

Ready for transplanting.

Transplanting Seedlings

Like all peppers, jalapeños love hot weather and full sun. In our garden, we use well-rotted chicken manure to fertilize, but a general fertilizer works well. To encourage healthy growth, we cover the plants one inch above the root line. We plant ours two feet or so apart and when well established, I’ll put mulch around them to keep weeds at bay and to help keep moisture around the plant.

If growing jalapeño peppers in containers, use one large enough for them to spread their roots. A five-gallon container with good drainage works well. I use a mix with perlite and peat moss.

If you purchase plants and they are flowering but still quite small, pinch off the flower heads. This bit of pruning will allow the plant to get to a healthy size before developing fruit.

Moisture is important for pepper growth so plan on watering in a consistent manner both for peppers in the garden and containers.

Some folks like to cage peppers to keep them upright. That helps keep critters away and also stabilizes the plants.

Harvesting

When harvesting any pepper, use a pair of scissors or a knife. Don’t pull the pepper from the plant, since this may break the stem or the entire plant. And remember that the longer the hot pepper is on the plant, the hotter it will get. You can tell this by the color. Jalapeños, like other peppers, start out green and gradually turn red when completely ripe.

Corking/Striations

As the pepper ripens and matures, you may see corking/striations on the pepper. This appears as tan or white lines. What does that mean? Basically, it means the inside is growing faster than the outside. Some pepper aficionados believe that this indicates a hotter than normal pepper. Others say the striations indicate the pepper is ripe enough to eat. Regardless, the pepper is still good. In fact, in Mexico, peppers that have corking fetch a higher price, as that is assumed to be a sign of quality peppers!

And here’s the deal about heat: the membrane holding the seeds is the hottest part of the pepper.

When harvesting jalapeños peppers or other hot peppers, use gloves. The hot oil/capsaicin from the pepper is not easily removed from the fingers. I use a bit of bleach and water which pulls the oil from my skin. Don’t rub your eyes or touch your mouth when handling hot peppers, either!

Saving Seeds

To save hot pepper seeds from ripe peppers, I use a method taught by my friend, Wilma. I will remove the outside flesh, leaving the stem and seeds on. Then I hang the peppers up until the seeds dry.

Removing fleshTying onto stringHanging to dry

You’ll know they’re dry when you can flick off a few with your finger. Remove seeds. Store in a dark colored bottle or paper envelope away from heat and light.

Some prefer to simply remove the pepper seeds and place them on a paper towel to dry, then store them.

Pickle It!

Canning jalapeño peppers is easy; they are delicious pickled in a simple brine of water, vinegar and a bit of sugar if you like. I’ve made jars and jars of pickled jalapeños. Sometimes I’ll throw in other hot or even sweet peppers with the jalapeños. To add another layer of flavor, I may toss in a garlic clove. I like to mix different kinds of peppers to make easy and delicious hot pickled peppers.

As my Mom and Grandma did before me, I place a wild grapevine leaf on top of the pickles before adding the brine.

Wild grape vine leaves.

The tannins in the leaf keep the pickles crisp. I smile as I do this, since it’s a way of keeping our special culinary history alive. And besides, it’s those wild grapevine leaves that I use to make our family’s dolmathas!

Canning jalapeño peppers: done!

Are you growing jalapeño peppers or other hot peppers? Do you have any tips to share for growing, harvesting or preserving?

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