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Jan 21, 2007 01:51 PM

Where to find jalapenos that are actually hot

These little green guys seem to have been dumbed down in recent years as they've penetrated the US market. Is there a particular national brand or source that retains the unique sharp flavor I remember from by youth?

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  1. I am not certain about this but I believe that the heat factor depends on the growing conditions. The colder climates produce hotter peppers.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bolivianita

      I think you have it backwards. The hotter climate produces hotter peppers. I've noticed jalapenos that I buy from the farmer's markets at the end of the summer vary greatly from one to the other. From the same batch I've had one jalapeno that tasted like a bell pepper and another that could peel the paint of a wall. For consistency and a definite heat factor, I think you might want to move onto another pepper

    2. heat factor is dependent on many factors of growing conditions, including the season. perhaps your tolerance for heat has increased, and it's time for you to step up to another variety?

      1. Some years ago the Texas Aggies developed a mild jalapeño called "TAM Mild Jalapeño." They have recently released or are about to release a newer variety called "TAM Mild Jalapeño II." In addition to being milder, these peppers are resistant to disease and are good producers. So, I'll suggest that most complaints about wimpy jalapeños should be addressed to Texas A&M. Good luck trying to find a consistent, reliable source of good, hot, older varieties.


        5 Replies
        1. re: Jim Washburn

          Jim Washburn hit the nail on the head here. This is exactly the reason why many jalapeños in the USA are so wimpy.

          There are chiles which fight one another, creating very badly flavored prepared dishes. It's not as simple as mixing a few wimpy jalapeños with some hotter-than-the-hinges-of-hell habaneros. The habaneros have the heat, but they also have a strongly floral flavor which battles with the jalapeño flavor. No Mexican cook worth her salt would indiscriminately mix chiles just for more heat.

          What you want is the chile serrano, close in flavor to the jalapeño but with a much higher heat quotient than those TAMs. Even here in Mexico, I rarely buy jalapeños as the serrano (commonly called just chile verde) are much more reliably picante.

          By the way, the jalapeño with 'the brown lines' is called jalapeño acorchado.

          1. re: cristina

            Thanks for the suggestion. Thing is though, I'm thinking of putting some japs on homemade pizza and serranos might not do the job physically (skinnier, crispier, whatever). Seems like they might be worth a shot, however.

            1. re: broncosaurus

              Serranos would work just fine! Or you can do what we do here in Mexico: use sliced pickled jalapeños as a garnish after the pizza is baked. I've learned to love it that way. Now I want one!

              1. re: cristina

                I saw a you tube of Rick Bayless (chef in Chicago) where he says that he prefers serannos because they are consistent whereas with jalapeños--you never know what you're going to get.

                1. re: lenwood

                  I'm with Bayless on this. I've had too many no-heat jalapeños. Now I always use serranos instead. I sure hope they don't "dumb-down" the serranos.

        2. I'm sure that certain growing conditions affect the heat of the peppers, but have you considered the possibility that your senses have changed over the years?

          It is quite common for people to develop higher tolerances of spicy foods over time and/or the more you eat.

          You may have to switch to habaneros!

          4 Replies
          1. re: michael23

            So Michael and others who suggested switching to other peppers, are you suggesting that other peppers are reliable at all times of the year and that it's just jalapenos that vary? I'm pretty sure that's not true. I've bought serranos and Thai peppers at various times and found they were also bland.

            I don't know of any way to tell whether jalapenos are blando or pinquante without buying them and tasting. Anybody have any suggestions? Color, etc.? It's really irritating to come home with a bunch of jalapenos only to cut them open and find they have almost no taste as well as no heat.

            1. re: oakjoan

              At the store where I buy chiles they don't mind people asking to taste their stuff, and they oblige.
              I always bite a chile before buying, only way to know what I'm getting.
              I bet pretty much the same must happen all over, just ask.
              And I don't think "switching up" is the way to go, different chiles serve different purposes.

              1. re: oakjoan

                Why not buy a couple of habaneros with the bunch of jalapenos? Once you taste the jalapenos, you'll know whether to kick it up a notch. (sorry...) If you need it, chop some habs up, mix with the filling (ie, cream cheese) or just use some along with the chopped jalapenos in your recipe.

                I don't know about walking along and munching habaneros... I'd be looking for an ice cream stand somewhere along the path.

                As far as just intensifying the jalapeno flavor, there are powders - both plain jalapeno and smoked (chipotle), which is what I tend to use.

              2. re: michael23

                No, jalapenos used to be hot when you bought them. Now they arent. I grew a plant this summer, and they're really really hot like the jalapenos of my past. I don't know if they're just planting Tam jalapenos or what, but they should have a fair amount of heat to them- period. The store-bought ones are watery and bland. I'm not against toning down the heat a little, because that distinctive jalapeno flavor is so good I can eat a lot of that. But watery and mild? That's kind of sad.

              3. I've been told that the perfect looking, all green jalapenos are not as hot as the ones that have the brown lines on the skin.

                1 Reply
                1. re: xena

                  But I've found that those coarse brown streaks increase as the weather gets colder--and peppers like it hot.