A member of the capsicum family, jalapeño chillies range from moderately to very hot. Originating from South America, they are about 4cm long, dark green when young and scarlet when ripe, and are sold both fresh and tinned. Dried and smoked, they are known as chipotle, and take on a deep, sweet flavour that some say has a slight chocolate note. Chipotles are also available pickled.
All year round.
Choose the best
Fresh jalapeño should be glossy and firm, with no bruising or soft patches.
To remove the pith and seed from a fresh jalapeño, wash it, slice lengthways in two, then cut off the stalk. Using the tip of a knife, cut way the white pith and the harder white core, keeping the knife close to the surface of the flesh. Then scrape out the seeds and discard, before slicing or dicing the chilli, as required.
As capsaicin (the ingredient that give jalapeño - and all chillies - their heat) irritates the skin, some people like to wear gloves to do this job. If not, scrub your hands thoroughly afterwards and remember not to touch your face or eyes (remember this when you take your contact lenses out!). Even if you've scrubbed well, it's still likely to burn.
Fresh jalapeño should be kept in a perforated bag in the fridge - they'll last for around 2 weeks. Chipotles will keep for a long time stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.