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Nov 2, 2009 01:08 AM

Aren't serrano peppers hot?

A Mexican joint I went to happened to have some on hand, so I asked for some diced fresh serrano for my salsa. What arrived sure looked like fresh serrano: small, skinny, and dark green. They had practically zero heat! My reference lists serrano peppers at ~20k Scoville Heat Units, and jalapeño peppers at ~5k SHU, so I was expecting a good burn. What could have caused this awful lack of heat? I've heard growers are experimenting with breeding no-heat jalapeños for Americans, are they abusing the serrano crop the same way?

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  1. I've found that the jalapenos I buy at the supermarkets here in Maine are really gringoified; I eat them like celery. I've not had that experience w/ serannos. however. They are my go to for salsa fresca up here. Mutant serranos? Bred not to give the gray panthers heart attacks in Fla.? I dunno.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Passadumkeg

      Gggrrrrrr......I call your lame Maine serrano and raise you 2 Florida-grown habaneros.

    2. all peppers have a large range of heat, depending on soil and weather conditions, as well as the pepper stock itself.....

      17 Replies
      1. re: thew

        Right! I am growing jalapenos and they are geting smaller because the season is almost over and they are getting milder. I don't know about cooking serranos... I would think you would not loose heat. I was served a whole small plate of roasted serranos at a Tex-Mex place, here in Connecticut. Now, I'm not a lightweight when it comes to eating peppers, but these just didn't have a normal amount of heat. I ate them all. They had a little salt and lime on them. Very delish.

        1. re: Scargod

          Serrano's are my go to for hot peppers- I just dont think that Jalepeno's are hot enough! I cook them often and they do maintain their heat very well- when they are hot. As its been said- the heat range can definitely vary based on growing conditions. Depending on how hot I want something-I add the serrano gradually. Sometimes- two are needed :-)

          1. re: fmcoxe6188

            Agreed that one or two serranos per dish is usually good for some decent heat. Unseeded, of course.

            1. re: Scargod

              A quart of my cream of serrano soup requires about forty.

              1. re: Veggo

                wow! Will you post the recipe? That sounds like something Id love!

                1. re: fmcoxe6188

                  Without ever touching the peppers, slice lengthwise with knife and fork and scrape out seeds with a teaspoon. Boil the halves with a 14 ounce can of chicken stock about 10 minutes. Puree in blender, add 14 ounces half and half, chill. It works to perk up enchiladas suizas, omelettes, tacos, nachos, burgers, etc. It freezes well in those little blue containers. It's about the same minty green color as my cream of asparagus soup, and it's fun to serve a cup to a friend as you sip your asparagus soup without breaking a sweat.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    haha-wonderful! Ill have to give this a shot! I love those Serrano's!

                    1. re: Veggo

                      Now, that sounds like my cup o' tea or, in this case, soup. I love serranos because they maintain their crunch even when cooked and they're not overly hot. I use them in my kick-ass chili. I've had jalapenos that were hotter.

                      1. re: Veggo

                        When my bro. visited us in Maine last Sept., I used your asparagus soup recipe, except for my bro only, I blended in a bunch of seranos. Pay back time for big bro. It was really funny. Heh, heh, heh.

                  2. re: Scargod

                    I usually dice up one and add it to a 2 egg omelet. Good flavor and a hint of heat.

              2. re: thew

                I've sen a few posts here about tha lack of heat from Jalapenos lately. I've had mild and volcanically hot this year. It just depends. I've also had mild and hot serranos this year as well. It just depends. Serranos have usually been more consistent in delivering heat than Jalapenos the past few years, imo, but, it just depends.

                1. re: gordeaux

                  I welcome mild jalapenos. A shrimp filled, battered and fried jalapeno can be a delicious beautiful thing. On the other hand, I have made trays of them that were beautiful but so hot all we could do was stare.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    What?? Even when seeded? I'm assuming that if you stuffed them they were seeded.
                    I'm gonna make the Serrano soup!... with asparagus...

                    1. re: Scargod

                      I de-seed them the same way as poblanos, just on a smaller scale, with a "T" shaped incision. Then add shrimp, and a little Oaxaca cheese followed with a simple beer batter with fine ground corn meal.

                      1. re: Veggo

                        Is there stuffing 101 for peppers? I mean, how do you get seeds out with the least invasive method, inserting the filling and not have it fall out or apart while you dip it and handle it? A firm, thick jalapeno almost sounds easier than a poblano after it gets limp and soft. I've tried many ways, but just haven't always been satisfied with my (often sloppy), performance.

                        1. re: Scargod

                          A raw jalapeno is far easier to de-stem and fill than a blistered poblano, but the procedure is the same. A 'T' shaped cut just below the stem end will sever the seed stamen, and you peel back the little flaps to core out the stem and seeds. It is too easy to overcook poblanos during the blistering process. If they get past where there is still firm green uncooked flesh, they head for the puree jar for soup. I often use poblanos without peeling them; I really think the need for that step is exaggerated. But not many batters will adhere for a relleno except for whipped egg whites. I use coarsely chopped unpeeled poblanos in many preparations- soups, Veracruz sauce, baked fish pibil, sausage and peppers, etc.

                      2. re: Scargod

                        I'll throw my name in the hat for the jalapeno lottery - I had switched to using serranos in place of jalapenos for most things, as jalapenos just weren't hot enough. Then I decided to make jalapeno poppers and they were so darned hot I could barely eat them. I did (you know the feeling - it hurts less to keep eating them than to stop).

                        To give a standardized idea of what I find to be "hot" - flaming hot cheetos can sometimes be uncomfortable on the back of the throat if you swallow wrong, but are not unpleasantly hot. (Pleasantly BAD, tho.)

                2. thew is correct. Even hot peppers can have a wide range of heat. If the pepper received too much water and the temperature wasn't hot enough while it was growing, it will be milder that we would normally expect it to be. Furthermore, you can't tell what you're getting until you cut it open and try it! That said, growers are trying to "dumb down" jalapenos and serranos.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: PAO

                    I had read and heard that hot and dry climates produced heat. Interesting that this year in NH, the season was wet and cold and my jalapenos, much to my happiness, were as hot as jalapenos get.

                  2. A lot of it depends on growing conditions. The serranos I grow in my yard are hotter than the serranos I've purchased at the supermarket. When they are fully ripe (red in color), the pepper flavor is more pronounced to me--excellent flavor.

                    1. I understand that peppers have a range of heat levels, but it seems to me that "near zero heat" shouldn't be a property of a 20k SHU pepper. The Hatch salsa they had was hotter! It would be like a 5k SHU habañero, not bloody likely for a pepper with a standard range of 100-300k SHU. Maybe if you grow your serranos in a swamp you could neuter them.