We were blessed with a bumper crop of hot garden peppers this season, particularly jalapeños. Yesterday, we picked several pounds of peppers off a single plant!
So what do you do with so many jalapeños coming at you all at once?
I’m so glad you asked!
Today I’m going to share a few of our favorite ways to preserve and use a bounty of hot peppers:
Controlling the heat
Capsaicin is the compound responsible for the spicy heat in jalapeño (and other chili peppers). It’s also their primary medicinal constituent. Capsaicin is located mainly in the placental tissue of the pepper, which is the white, membrane-like material that attaches the seeds to the inner walls of the pepper.
You can reduce the spiciness by cutting the pepper open and removing these parts. The seeds themselves may also contain some capsaicin, but their contribution to the overall spiciness is relatively minor compared to the placental tissue. Conversely, if you want to increase the heat, you can include more of the placental tissue and/or use peppers known for their high capsaicin content.
Use a spoon to scrape out the white membranes and seeds. While jalapeños have significantly less capsaicin than cayenne or habaneros, it’s still strongly advisable to wear gloves while working with them. If you don’t, you might learn first-hand just how effective capsaicin’s numbing powers can be! *
Rinsing the peppers in water can help, though capsaicin is not terribly water-soluble. It is actually hydrophobic, which means it does not readily dissolve in water. That said, the mechanical force of rinsing your peppers under a stream of running water can remove a bit more of the hot stuff.
If you really want a milder jalapeño, rub the inner membranes down with olive oil before rinsing. Rub the peppers as you rinse for maximum effect.
Easy-peasy seed removal
By the way, the easiest way to de-seed a jalapeño is to give is a light roll on the cutting board. Hear those cracking sounds? That’s the seeds and inner membranes loosening and detaching from the pepper.
Cut off the stem, and use a chopstick to dislodge the seedpod and pull it out. Trust me, this is sooo much easier than painstakingly picking seeds out of already sliced jalapeños!
* If you do wind up with capsaicin on your hands, a little milk can go a long way toward neutralizing the burn. A paste of baking soda may also help.