Organic Green Jalapeno Chile Powder
Jalapeno, Capsicum annuum, is widely considered to be the most recognized chile in the US. Pronounced "ha lay pain yo", this chile is native to Mexico. We added a conventional (non organic) green jalapeno powder several years ago after numerous requests for this surprisingly hard to find green chile powder. To say that we were a bit stunned at how popular it has become would be an understatement!
One of my favorite useless trivia bits on Jalapenos is that the Annual Jalapeno Festival is held each year (since 1978) in Laredo, Texas as part of the city's month long celebration of George Washington's birthday (how's that for a strange combination). The festivities include cooking contests, jalapeno eating contests (current record is 141 jalapenos consumed), jalapeno spitting contests and lots of music.
Jalapeno is called halbinu (Arabic), lajiao (Mandarin), jalapeno (French, German, Italian and Spanish), jalapaino (Hindi), harapenyo (Japanese), pimenta jalapeno (Portuguese) and khalapen'o (Russian). They're also known as "cuaresmenos" (meaning Lenten chile), "‘chile gordo" (fat chile) and "huachinango" (a specific cultivar of jalapeno that is red in color).
The word jalapeno first appeared in the late 1950's and translates to "of Jalapa" and comes from Mexican Spanish. Jalapa, which is actually spelled Xalapa (the name of the capital city of the Mexican state of Veracruz), is derived from the Nahuatl (ancient Aztec) word Xalapan which translates to "sand by the water".
Jalapenos are one of the first and oldest cultivated crops in the Western Hemisphere, dating back to before the Aztec civilization (which thrived from 1345-1521). They originated in the region of Mexico that today is northern Mexico City. Most chiles can be dried using the sun, but not Jalapenos. Chile historians believe that the Aztecs first smoked jalapeno peppers because the fleshy, thick jalapeno was difficult to dry in the sun and tended to rot. This "smoke drying" process was initially used for drying meats, but the Aztecs found that smoking allowed the chiles to be stored for a long period of time as well.
Smoked jalapenos (today known as Chipotle chiles) were used in royal Aztec rituals, where the chiles were used in a ceremonial sauce that was served to the emperor and his guests. It was prepared with a mixture of chiles, tomatoes, nuts, pumpkin seeds, chocolate and caramel. This sauce was used to flavor venison, fowl and seafood. As the Aztec empire began to rise, so did their skills in importing and exporting, and smoked jalapenos were a very popular chile to trade.
In Mexico, only the pickled version of this pepper is called a jalapeno. The fresh green pod is called 'cuaresmenos'. In the US, it's called a jalapeno whether its fresh or pickled.
An early relative of the jalapeno chile is thought to have been called "tzonchili" or "texochili". Chile historians believe that the tzonchili was first cultivated by the ancient Aztecs and this chile has been described as having hints of sweetness. The fact that the modern day jalapeno and the ancient tzonchili could only be dried by smoking lends more credence to these chiles sharing a similar lineage.
Bernardino de Sahagun, a Franciscan friar, missionary priest and pioneering ethnographer (one who conducts the systematic study of people and cultures), arrived in New Spain (modern day Mexico) in 1529. He quickly learned the Nahualt (pronounced "nä wätl") language and spent the next 50 years studying the Aztecs and their culture. He described the typical Aztec market as having "hot green chiles, smoked chiles, water chiles, tree chiles, flea chiles and sharp-pointed red chiles. To further illustrate the importance that the Aztecs placed on chiles, they classified them into 6 categories based not only on their level of pungency (low to high), but also on type of pungency (broad to sharp)."
Jalapeno plants typically reach a height of 2-1/2' to 3', with a single main stem. These multi-branched plants have light to dark green leaves that measure about 2" wide by 3" long. The corollas (flower petals) are white, contain no spots, and mature into conical and cylindrical pods that are approximately 1-1/2" wide and 2 to 3 inches long. Most jalapenos are harvested while still immature and are their familiar green color. The full growing period of jalapenos is between 70 and 80 days and under ideal growing conditions each plant will produce between 25 and 35 pods.
In the US, we're more likely to find them green in color, although occasionally some will turn a purplish color. The pods are also known to have brown streaks (called "corking"), this trait is preferred in Mexico but US consumers consider chiles with these markings to be inferior.
While ingenious to Mexico, these chiles are also commercially grown in the southwestern US and throughout South America. In Mexico, they're primarily grown in Oaxaca, the Lower Palaloapan River Valley and northern Veracruz. In the United States, California is the leader in jalapeno chile production, followed by New Mexico and Texas. Jalapeno chiles can be grown in a variety of soil types and climates, although they grow best in semiarid climates. Those that are planted in hot humid areas tend to produce significantly lower yields per plant.
Like many chile peppers, there are numerous varieties -- in Mexico, 'Peludo' and 'Tipico' are the most sought after, and in the US 'Early Jalapeno' (considered hot) and 'TAM Jalapeno' (considered mild) are the most popular.
Depending on the time of year and product availability, our organic green jalapenos are grown in either Mexico, the US or China.
While most fresh jalapenos are picked when they're still green in color, a select few are left on the plant until they are fully ripened at the end of the season. At this point, the peppers turn a deep crimson red and are then typically (but not always) dried and smoked.
When dried and smoked, the jalapeno is called Chipotle, and we carry both types of chipotles -- the harder to find Chipotle "Meco" and the more common Chipotle "Morita". Dried, smoked jalapenos are quite popular and are not that difficult to find, while the unsmoked, dried green jalapeno is actually much more difficult to locate.
Our organic green jalapeno powder can be added to chili, corn bread, salsa, sauces, spice blends, stews, taco meat or sprinkled over chicken, eggs and pork chops.
Earthy-grassy flavor with a sharp heat.
Jalapenos are considered a medium heat chile coming in at between 2,500 and 8,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units).
For a handy conversion approximately 1/2 - 1 teaspoon is equal to one fresh jalapeno (knowing that sizes of jalapenos can vary greatly).
Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*