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Which Jalapeno to Plant

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on July 8, 2011

In Texas, it is time to plant your peppers and tomatoes for the fall garden.  Jalapenos are a staple around here.  But which jalapeno to plant?

You might think there is only one jalapeno, but there are at least two.  The regular jalapeno is hot.  Not as hot as the habanero, but hotter than most people like to eat.  It varies from 3,500-4,500. in Scoville units.  That means that some peppers are a lot hotter than others of the same cultivar, but they all fall in this range.  For comparison, a habanero rates 200,000-300,000 Scoville units.

The jalapeno has an excellent flavor, but if you are not a connoisseur of hot things, the capsaicin that gives the jalapeno its bite overshadows the flavor.  For this reason, the researchers at Texas A&M have bred a jalapeno that tastes as good as the regular jalapeno, but is much less hot.  It is called the TAM Jalapeno.  It is actually the TAM Jalapeno II, the first one being good but this one being better.  Instead of  being 3,500-4,500, it is 1,000-1,500.  So if you like the taste but not the bite of a regular jalapeno, you can plant the TAM Jalapeno II.

It is important to note that you should plant your hot peppers away from your sweet ones.  One summer my Dad planted his peppers too close together.  They cross pollinated and the banana peppers were very hot.  Since he planted those for my sister and mother to eat, that was a problem.  My sister still won’t eat banana peppers.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Gardening Guru July 9, 2011 at 7:13 am

Whilst I love Jalapenos and would really like to grow them in my garden, unfortunately I don’t think the climate here in the UK is up to it, certainly not like your Texan weather.
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Stephanie Suesan Smith July 9, 2011 at 7:46 am

No, they probably wouldn’t do well. On the other hand, raspberries do not do too well here, at least not the kind you have.

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Gardening Guru July 9, 2011 at 7:54 am

I guess it all balances out then 🙂
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Allan Douglas July 9, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Hi Stephanie,
Is there a strain of bananna pepper that is naturally hot? I mixed hot and sweet peppers in my pepper patch this year and am getting a bumper crop of Bananna peppers, but they are quite hot. Haven’t encountered hot banannas before, but planted a mix of pepper seeds, so I’m not sure what I got. If not, it must be that cross-pollination deal.
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Stephanie Suesan Smith July 10, 2011 at 6:43 am

As far as I know, banana peppers are not supposed to be hot. The only ones I have grown that were hot were planted close to hot peppers.

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Ben from Green Powder July 13, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I love jalapenos! They’re so good in salsa and amazing when breaded and stuffed with cheese. That’s funny that they can cross pollinate with regular peppers. I didn’t know that. I’ve never grown my own before, but I’d really like to. The problem is that in my household, I’m the only one who really likes spicy. I’ll have to look into the Texas A&M variety. I don’t know if it’ll be the same without the spicy though 🙁
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Stephanie Suesan Smith July 13, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Not quite, but better than doing without.

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