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Jalapeno (pronounced Ala-peen-yo) are popularly used in both Spanish and Mexican cuisines as a source of heat. The distinct, sour-spicy taste with an acidic afterburn is what makes these peppers so unique. The heat level of Jalapenos depend on both: the quality of cultivation and preparation of the product. Caused primarily by capsaicin and related compounds, the heat in Jalapenos are concentrated in the veins (placenta) surrounding the seeds, which are called picante. That is why it is advised that when deseeding and deveining fresh Jalapenos to wear gloves or coat your fingers in oil to reduce the heat imparted to the hands.
They can be diced or chopped into small cubes and added to a freshly made salsa. The chopped jalapenos form an interesting contrast to the refreshingly tart taste of tomatoes.
Wash and pat dry the jalapenos. Remove the stem ends of the jalapenos, chop the peppers into big pieces and blend in a mixer to a smooth paste. If the jalapeno tastes too hot for the dish you plan, before blending, remove the seeds to reduce the heat.
You can also use bottled jalapenos to make the paste.
Slice the jalapenos using a sharp knife by cutting vertically across the cutting board. Slice them thinly or thickly as per the recipe requirement.
How to select
• Fresh Jalapenos of quality are firm ones with smooth skins and no blemishes.
• Good-quality Jalapenos should have solid green coloring.
• Dry lines are not a blemish. They are signs of a mature pepper and indicate hotness.
• If the jalapenos tastes too hot for the dish you plan, remove the seeds to reduce the heat.
• If the product is soft, bruised, has wrinkled skin or spots of mould please avoid buying it.
• A fun starter or finger food, Jalapenos when normally filled with cheese, coated in batter and deep fried make for delicious poppers.
• Baking stuffed jalapenos is a healthy appetizer option.
• Jalapenos are commonly used for making pimento cheese, potato salad, snack food and sandwich filling.
• Bottled or pickled Jalapenos pack a punch so please use sparingly in Mexican recipes for guacamole, salad dressings and in sandwiches.
How to store
• Fresh unwashed jalapenos can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
• Wrap them in a paper towel or place them in a paper bag.
• Avoid storing them in plastic as trapped moisture will hasten spoilage.
• Check your jalapenos often and discard any that develop soft or dark spots.
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