How to Take the Heat Out of Jalapenos (or Any Chile Pepper)

Jalepeno Pepper Bombs

I absolutely LOVE stuffed and grilled jalapenos, but due to the cruelties of time, my old gut has started rebelling at overy spicy foods. However, as I’m not willing to give up one of my favorite flavors, just because my stomach has turned traitor on me!

Naga Jolokia chili pepper
The Naga Jolokia

Jalepeno Peppers averages 2,500 – 8,000 Scoville Heat Units* (SHU), putting them somewhere between Anaheim peppers (500 ~ 2,500 SHU) and Hidalgos (6,000 ~ 17,000 SHU).

To get an idea of the scale, the average sweet bell pepper comes in at 0, and at the top of the Scoville scale: the fearsome Naga Jolokia peppers are 800,000 to over One Million  SHU’s!

Yes, that was the sound of your esophageal sphincter melting.

What Makes Chili Peppers Hot

The heat-inducing chemical in peppers is called “hydrophopic capsasium“, or what my friend Melanie would call C18H27NO3. Capsaicin and several related compounds are called capsaicinoids and are produced as secondary metabolites by chili peppers, and other vegetables as deterrents against certain mammals and fungi.

AAvH7Kn.imgHigh levels of capsasium can produce a pain-stimulated release of endorphins, causing pleasurable and even euphoric effects (You freakin’ junkies!) 😉

For spice-lovers and pepper-heads, jalapeno’s are the “hot food” equivalent of eating gummy bears, but for NORMAL people, they pack some heat.

Grilling or roasting peppers make them even hotter as you’re cooking moisture out of them, which concentrates the percentage of capsasium.

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Here are some tips we used in restaurants to make jalapenos dishes a bit more “customer friendly.”

Tips for Tongue-Friendly Jalapenos

1. Remove the seeds and membranes from the interior of the pepper. They contain the majority of the capsasium (the hot stuff). An old fashioned potato peeler, the point-end kind, works great for this.

Cleaning Jalepenos

2. Soak the cleaned peppers in an ice-water bath for 1/2 hour. This soaking method will reduce the finished heat by about 50%. To take ALL the fire out, use lemon-lime soda (not diet) instead of water, for 30-45 minutes. Really! Drain, rinse in fresh water, and pat dry.

(Chef’s note: Pour the soda you soaked the peppers in over a tall glass of ice and add a healthy shot of your favorite tequila. You’re welcome!)

Soaking Jalepenos

3. If that doesn’t tame the beast enough for you, blanch the rinsed peppers in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then place them in a (fresh) ice bath to chill, and stop the cooking process. Rinse and pat dry.

Remember, ALWAYS wear disposable gloves when working with hot peppers, and try to avoid touching your face or eyes.

Oh, and…guys? Try to remember to use the bathroom BEFORE you start your prep! 😉

~Chef Perry
chefperryperkins.com

*The Scoville unit was named for Wilbur Scoville in 1912. At the time, he worked for the pharmaceutical company, Parke-Davis, where he developed a test called the “Scoville Organoleptic Test” which is still used to measure a chili pepper’s heat.



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6 thoughts on “How to Take the Heat Out of Jalapenos (or Any Chile Pepper)

  1. We salt the jalapenos before we make poppers. Basically cut them and gut them then cover the inside with table salt and let them sit 10, 15 min. Salt will draw the oil from the peppers. Rinse off, pat dry, then stuff w cream cheese and bacon. The mucho natchos and gigantica that I grow sometimes have meh heat and sometimes napalm but this way they are never hot.

  2. Thanks for the jalapeño tips. Made some stuffed and we could only eat one apiece and had to follow by drinking milk. Had made them before and loved them so knew I’d skipped something but had no idea what. It was the hot bath. Also appreciate the historical note on the Scoville scale.

    1. Thank you for asking, Elizabeth!

      The problem: The simplest way, adding more peanut-butter, throws off your fat-to-flour ratio, and you end up with cookie pancakes with no backbone. I’ve tried adding powdered peanut butter in the past, but the aftertaste of the preservatives was off-putting.

      Okay, so I’ve never told ANYONE my PB Cookie secret, but what the heck… 😉

      “De La Rosa Marzipan Peanut Candy” (Link below)

      I first found these on a trip to Mexico City in my teens. Replace 1/4th of the flour in your cookie recipe with an equal amount (by volume) of this amazing powdery candy, and you will find peanut-butter nirvana! It will also make them sweeter, so if that’s a problem, try cutting back on the sugar in your recipe until you reach a balance that’s right for you.

      Also, I like to add a couple of handfuls of whole, salted Spanish peanuts (hulls removed) to my dough.

      Let me know how it goes!

      ~Chef Perry

      https://www.amazon.com/Rosa-Marzipan-Peanut-Candy-each/dp/B0000ICLKY

      PS: This is a link for them on Amazon, but if you have an Latino market nearby, they’re almost sure to carry them.

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