Jalapeño facts for kids
The jalapeño is a type of Mexican pepper. It is related to the family of the Chili pepper. It is pronounced hala-PEE-nyo. It is a small to medium-sized chile pepper that is prized for the hot, burning sensation that it produces in the mouth when eaten. It is a member of the capsicum species. Commonly picked and consumed while still green, it is occasionally allowed to fully ripen and turn red, orange, or yellow.
It is named after the city of Xalapa, Veracruz where it was traditionally produced. Jalapeños were in use by the Aztecs prior to the Spanish conquest. Aztec markets sold chipotles (smoked jalapeños), mole made from chipotles, besides the sale of fresh chilies.
The use of peppers in the Americas dates back thousands of years, including the practice of smoking some varieties of peppers in order to preserve them. In 1999, roughly 107,000 acres in Mexico were dedicated towards growing jalapeños, primarily in the Paloapán river basin in the north of the state of Veracruz and in the Delicias, Chihuahua area.
In comparison with other chile peppers, it has a heat level that varies from mild to hot depending on how it was grown and how it was prepared. 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.
Sweet hybridized varieties have been created with no "heat" although they retain the look and flavor of a jalapeño. These varieties can be used for making mild salsas and dishes served to anyone who doesn't tolerate spicy food.
They have a distinct acidic taste. The jalapeño rates between 2,500 and 8,000 Scoville units in heat. Handling fresh jalapeños may cause skin burns - wear latex or vinyl gloves while cutting, skinning, or seeding jalapeños, and never touch your eyes after handling hot peppers.
- Stuffed jalapeños are hollowed out fresh jalapeños (served cooked or raw) filled with seafood, meat, poultry, or cheese.
- Pickled jalapeños, a type of pickled pepper, sliced or whole, are often served hot or cold on top of nachos, which are tortilla chips with melted cheese on top, a traditional Tex-Mex dish.
- Chipotles are smoked, ripe jalapeños.
- Jalapeño jelly, which is a pepper jelly, can be prepared using jelling methods.
- Jalapeño peppers are often muddled and served in mixed drinks.
- Jalapeño poppers are an appetizer; jalapeños are stuffed with cheese, usually cheddar or cream cheese, breaded or wrapped in bacon, and cooked.
- Armadillo eggs are jalapeños stuffed with cheese, coated in seasoned sausage meat and wrapped in bacon. The "eggs" are then grilled until the bacon starts to crisp.
- Chiles toreados are fresh jalapeños that are sauteed in oil until the skin is blistered all over. They are sometimes served with melted cheese on top.
- Texas toothpicks are jalapeños and onions shaved into straws, lightly breaded, and deep fried.
- Chopped jalapeños are a common ingredient in many salsas and chilis.
- Jalapeño slices are commonly served in Vietnamese pho and bánh mì, and are also a common sandwich and pizza topping in the West.
The jalapeño is the state pepper of Texas adopted in 1995.
Jalapeños were the very first peppers in space in 1982 on the Space Shuttle Columbia. Jalapeños are a great food to have in space as they have a longer “space” life and do not omit a strong odor.
The Guinness World Records for most jalapeños eaten in a minute is 16 by Alfredo Hernandes on 17 September 2006 at La Costeña Feel the Heat Challenge in Chicago, IL, USA.
Patrick Bertoletti holds the Major League Eating jalapeño records at 275 pickled jalapeños in 8 minutes on 1 May 2011, and 191 pickled jalapeños in 6.5 minutes on 16 September 2007.
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