Healthy Eating

Jalapeño Pepper

Jalapeño Pepper: Main Image

Buying Tips

Jalapeños can be found in the produce section of specialty markets and supermarkets. As these peppers mature they turn from green to red and get progressively hotter. They can be used for cooking when red or green. Choose fresh chiles with a glossy shine and deep colors, avoiding those that look wrinkled or soft.

Varieties

Immature jalapeños are hot when they are green but gain pungency and a red color as they ripen. They also increase in sweetness as they mature. These bullet-shaped peppers reach between 2 and 3 inches (5–7.5cm) in length and up to 1 inch (2.5cm) in width. When smoked, dried jalapeños are called chipotle. They are preserved by smoking rather than air-drying because of their thick flesh.

Jalapaños are medium-hot peppers that range in heat between 2,500 and 5,000 Scoville heat units. How high a chile pepper scores on the hotness scale is determined by high-performance liquid chromatography measurement of how many parts per million of capsaicin it contains. (Capsaicin is the compound that gives chile peppers their fiery bite.) This figure is then converted into the historic Scoville heat units that signify how much dilution is necessary to drown out the chile’s heat. The heat level of a chile is given as a range because it varies with how and where the pepper was cultivated.

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The information presented in the Food Guide is for informational purposes only and was created by a team of US–registered dietitians and food experts. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements, making dietary changes, or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.