Whether you prefer your jalapeños fresh in salsa, pickled, or stuffed with cream cheese and deep fried, chances are you agree that this ubiquitous pepper is an American favorite. The jalapeño is a variety of the capsicum annuum family, which includes a wide range from bell peppers to poblanos and cayennes. It may be a keystone of America’s modern cuisine, but the origin of this popular pepper is rooted in ancient Meso American history.
The chili pepper is native to Mexico, where it has been cultivated since antiquity. Ancient Mayans used chili peppers medicinally, treating maladies such as wounds and earaches. Chilis were also used to keep food from spoiling. The jalapeño is named for Xalapa (Jalapa), the capital of Veracruz, Mexico, in the region where the variety was traditionally grown.
Jalapeño has been cultivated in Mexico since before the arrival of Europeans. Spanish conquistadors wrote of finding fresh jalapenos in Aztec markets, as well as the smoked ones called chipotles, from which mole is made. Shortly after chili pepper samples were taken back to Europe from the Americas, Portuguese traders crossed the globe introducing them to various ports across Africa and Asia. The chili pepper was quickly adopted into various cuisines from West Africa to East Asia. Thanks to its perfectly balanced heat, and unmistakable juicy, crunchy flesh, the jalapeño has become a favorite pepper across the globe.
In America, the jalapeño reigns supreme, as its versatility and tempered heat is ideal for our melting pot cuisine. The iconic green 2 to 4-inch-long pods have transcended traditional south-of-the-border recipes now found in myriad preparations. American heirloom enthusiasts have tinkered with the traditional jalapeño to create extra large varieties like Craig’s Grande, colorful varieties for edible landscaping, and even a completely heatless jalapeño for those who prefer their peppers on the cool side. No matter your taste in peppers, there is a jalapeño for you!
Love the flavor and crunch of jalapeño, but can’t take the heat? This truly heatless jalapeño is perfect for those with sensitivity or aversion to the heat of traditional jalapeño peppers. Great for pickling, stuffing, poppers and salsa. This variety is very early and prolific!