Sunday, May 30, 2010

Holy Jalapeno!!

This year, I was determined to grow enough Jalapenos to make some pickled rings and a few other things. I believe I am going to get my wish....and then some. Today, I am going to make some Jalapeno rings, SO, I went out to my three plants, only two of which are producing so far. This is what I came in with:

Believe it or not, the picture really doesn't show it well, there are 39 peppers there. I say again, this is only off the two plants that are producing so far. I also left many smaller ones on the plants. Good thing I like Hot Peppers. Some of the other things I am going to make with these are, Pepper Cheesecake, Pepper Sauce, Pepper Flakes and anything else I can think of or find. Hey, I know what you are thinking, don't knock the Cheesecake until you have tried it.
The original chili pepper plant, classified as a fruit, not a vegetable, hails from either Peru or Bolivia, depending on which anthropologist you ask, circa 7000 B.C. The tiny, pungent red fruit was most widely cultivated in Mexico, where it was deemed important enough to serve as currency as well as food. Seeds were carried by birds throughout Central, South, and southern North America. Modern Mexico still produces the greatest variety of chili peppers, about 140 types at last count.
Jalapenos are named after the city of Xalapa, Veracruz. It is a cultivar of the species Capsicum annuum originating in Mexico.
The Jalapeno pepper is a small to medium sized chili pepper. They grow on average 2-4 inches and are green when ripe, but do turn red the longer you keep them on the vine. The more common variety is green, although red Jalapenos are both tasty and a bit sweeter.
Choose a location with full sunlight, they love LOTS of sun. The plants will grow to about 3 feet tall and the same wide. They like lots of water, but beware of overwatering, they can develop root rot.
How hot is a Jalapeno? Personally, not that hot.....I am a true Chilihead. To give you a little background on Pepper heat go back and read my article entitled PROUD CHILI HEAD Dated, March 24th, 2010.
For a quick reminder, in 1912, a pharmacologist named Wilbur Scoville invented a standard for measuring the capsaicin in peppers, the stuff that makes them hot. This standard of measurement is also known as a Scoville unit. A Bell Pepper ranks a big fat goose egg at zero Scoville Units. A Habanero is rated around 200,000 to 300,000. The Bhut Jolokia Pepper or Ghost Pepper is upwards of one million Scoville units!! The Jalapeno rates at right around 5000 units. Child's play!
Silliness aside for a moment, Peppers can cause some major problems for certain people. You get the juice in your eye and it can cause severe pain, ask anybody that has been sprayed with pepper spray. For somebody that is very sensitive, it can also cause blistering of the skin and mouth ,so please be careful.
If the pain is too much after eating any kind of hot pepper, the cow can be your best friend. Consume any kind of dairy product, milk, yogurt, ice cream, etc. Dairy products contain a chemical called Caisen that combats the effects of chile peppers' capsicum by stripping it from its receptor site on the skin. Also, this was suggested by a poison control center for those times you do not have a dairy product on hand: Wash the skin with warm, soapy water. Rub the skin with vegetable or olive oil and let set a minute. Rinse. I have not tried the last thing, but I thought I would throw it out there.
The one thing that many people do not know about Jalapenos and pretty much any other hot pepper is their health benefits.
Chili Peppers Have Loads of Vitamin C
A typical chili pepper packs more vitamin C than an orange, so if you need your extra C, grab a chili pepper!
Chili Peppers Fight Migraine Headaches and Sinus Headaches
Studies show that chili peppers can provide pain relief for migraine and sinus headaches. The Capsaicin is known to inhibit a key neuropeptide, Substance P, that is the key brain pain transmitter.
Chili Peppers Prevent Sinusitis and Relieve Congestion
The pepper heat helps to stimulate secretions that aid in clearing mucus from your nose, combatting nasal congestion. It also contains antibacterial properties that help fight chronic sinus infections. And you thought the runny nose you get after eating something hot was a bad thing!?
Chili Peppers Fight Inflammation
Capsaicin is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. It inhibits Substance P, which is associated with inflammatory processes, much like it relieves headaches and migraines, listed earlier. Capsaicin may also one day be a treatment for arthritis, psoriasis and diabetic neuropathy.
This is just a small sampling of the health benefits. For those counting calorie and fat types, check out the Nutritional Information:
*Serving size 1 pepper (average size)
*Calories 4
*Total Fat 0g
*Sodium 0mg
*Total Carbohydrate 1g
*Vitamin A 2%
*Vitamin C 10%
*Iron 1%
I promise you, I am NOT one of those people that read Nutritional Information panels on regular basis, I found this information and thought it was mildly interesting.
There are many things you can do with Jalapenos. Chipotles are smoked, ripe Jalapenos. Chipotles are a key ingredient that impart a relatively mild but earthy spiciness to many dishes in Mexican cuisine. I have made pepper jelly with Jalapenos, though I also use some of the Ghost Peppers in mine. You can make Texas Toothpicks, which are Jalapenos and Onions shaved into straws, lightly breaded, and deep fried. Jalapeno peppers are often muddled (mushed up) and served in mixed drinks. Then of course you can also make Armadillo Eggs. The Jalapenos are stuffed with cheese, usually cheddar or cream cheese, breaded and deep fried, you probably know them better as poppers.
Happy Growing!

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