What Happened to the Heat in Jalapeño Peppers?

When I first began growing my own jalapeño peppers around 30 years ago, they were hot. I made canned salsa, and each batch had to be tested and labeled accordingly. If one batch was deadly spicy, the next would have fewer jalapeño in the pot, so I could have a variety of heat levels in my cellar. Fast forward many years, and I am able to eat whole jalapeños (stuffed with cheese), and no longer bother wearing gloves to cut them. What happened to the heat in the jalapeños?

There are several factors that have to do with how hot your peppers are, but for the industry as a whole, it is because of the popular TAM II jalapeño, a variety developed for bigger size, less heat, and more flavor. These are preferred by the manufacturing industry, which buys up 60% of all jalapeños grown in the US. You can read how that all came about at D Magazine. 

But there are things you can do to procure hot jalapeños, both in the garden and at the grocery store. First, make sure you aren't watering your peppers as much as you water your tomatoes. Hot, dry weather brings out the heat in jalapeños. At the grocery, look for heirloom varieties if they are available, or ask your grocer to look into stocking more than one variety of jalapeño peppers. It's also good to try out the different products of local farms, too.  -via Kottke 

(Image credit: Epp

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