Jalapenos are a variety of spicy Chili Pepper native to Mexico. Most jalapeños are produced in southern New Mexico and western Texas. They are pronounced hah-lah-PEH-nyoh. They can be used in a variety of ways, from jalapeno poppers, added to salsa, made into jelly, pickled or pico de gallo, added to cornbread, topped on nachos, stuffed to eat or popping them fresh.
Depending on how hot and spicy you like it and compared to other chilies, the jalapeño has a heat level that varies from mild to hot depending on cultivation and preparation. The heat, caused by capsaicin and related compounds, is concentrated in the membrane (placenta) surrounding the seeds, which are called picante. Handling fresh jalapeños may cause skin irritation. Some handlers wear latex or vinyl gloves while cutting, skinning, or seeding jalapeños. When preparing jalapeños, hands should not come in contact with the eyes, as this leads to burning and redness. As the growing season ends, jalapeños start to turn red. Once picked, individual peppers ripen to red of their own accord. The peppers can be eaten green or red. But be warned, the darker they get, the hotter they are and once they turn red – look out ‘cause that’s when they are the hottest! If you want the flavor, but not the heat, slice the jalapeños, clean out the seeds and inside membranes. You want a little heat; leave a few of the seeds in, you get to decide just how hot you want it.
Although made up mostly of water – approximately 41%, nutritionally there are a few surprises from these little jalapeños. One ½ cup serving of sliced jalapeño peppers contains the following micro-nutrients: 9 mg of Magnesium, 14 mg of Phosphorus, 97 mg of Potassium and the biggest surprise – 360 IU of Vitamin A! They also contain smaller amounts of Calcium (5 mg) and Vitamin C (19.9 mg). They contain trace amounts of Iron (.32 mg), Zinc (.10 mg), Thiamin (.065 mg), Riboflavin (.026 mg), Niacin (.503 mg), Vitamin B6 (.229 mg), Folate (21 mcg), Vitamin E (.21 mg) and Vitamin K (4.4 mcg). Jalapeños also contain some interesting Phytonutrients – like 205 mcg of Beta Carotene, 15 mcg of Beta Cryptoxanthin and 221 mcg of Lutein and Zeaxanthin. Vitamin A is critical in protecting your vision and in cellular growth. Lutein and Zeaxanthin are the two primary xanthophyll carotenoids contained within the retina of the eye. As we get older our carotenoid production decreases, which means we need to add it back into our systems. So help protect your vision – eat jalapeños.