Why are my Jalapeño Peppers Less Hot?

An inside look at manufacturing jalapeño peppers and how they get to customers.
March 11, 2024
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green jalapeño peppers

Have you noticed that jalapeño peppers are less hot? It’s not by accident.

Jalapeño peppers have become milder from a deliberate decision by farmers to appeal to processing plants, who buy most of their crop production.

Most jalapeño peppers go straight to processing plants, where they are processed as an ingredient in salsas, flavored chips, canned peppers, dips, and other foods instead of being sold directly to consumers.

According to The Mexican Chile Pepper Cookbook:

  • 60% of jalapeño peppers are sold to processing plants
  • 20% of jalapeño peppers are smoke-dried into chilis
  • 20% of jalapeño peppers are sold fresh to consumers

Processing plants are focused on consistency to meet food standards. They sell most products, such as salsa, under mild, medium, and hot labels.

Processing plants typically request low-heat but high-flavor jalapeño peppers from farmers since it's much easier to add heat than reduce it. Processing plants can add oleoresin capsicum, extract from peppers containing pure heat, to increase the hotness to medium and hot levels. 

So, it’s not just in your head. Jalapeño peppers are less spicy than before because farmers are predictably growing their peppers at milder heat levels to appeal to processing plants rather than consumers.

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