Fresh jalapeno peppers on white background

Normally I don’t like meat substitutes – jackfruit (which I was going to profile today but thought too boring), Quorn, TVP – but for Lorna Sass’s Cuban Picadillo I made an exception. It uses seitan (wheat gluten) which is a sort of rubbery, crumbly texture, not unlike minced beef, when it is ground. If you are vegan or vegetarian and can get over that then you will like this dish. If you eat faces then just substitute ground beef.

Which is sort of putting the horse before….. the topic of this post is meant to be the jalapeno. Jalapeno is a green or red medium hot pepper from Mexico or southwestern US. The name “jalapeno” is Spanish for “Jalapa” (or Xalapa), the capital of Veracruz, Mexico. Jalapenos were originally grown there, hence the name. It is generally 5-8cm long but can grow to 15cm and is cultivar of the species Capsicum annuum.

Pepperscale says many people think of the jalapeño as a very spicy hot pepper, but in terms of the Scoville scale, the jalapeñoa is merely mild to moderate. It has a Scoville heat unit range of 2,500 to 8,000 SHU.

Jalapeno Madness gives good instructions for growing, harvesting, preserving and cooking these peppers. 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. Jalapenos are ready to be picked when they are firm and bright green, but you can leave them on the plant until they turn red. Red jalapeno peppers are sweeter to the taste and not quite as hot. Removing the seeds and veins from the pepper will lessen the heat. To preserve them they can be dried, frozen, canned, pickled or preserved in oil.

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.