Jalepeños are a tricky pepper. Many are mild and are fine used as a topping on your tacos or as an ingredient in your favorite recipe. However, every once in a while, you might be caught off guard by a jalapeño that sets your mouth on fire and has you running to the kitchen for a glass of milk.
If you’ve grown a particularly spicy crop of jalapeños this year or want to make an entree milder for guests, you might want to know how to make your peppers less spicy. Luckily, there are many ways to do so and the best and easiest methods are listed below.
Let’s talk about what makes jalepeños hot and what you can do to lessen the heat. You’ll be able to tame those peppers easily and use them in your favorite recipes.
What You Need to Know About Jalapeño Peppers
In order to understand the methods of taming your jalapeños, there are a few things you should know first. Let’s dive into some quick facts about these peppers so you can select the right method later on.
Why Are Jalapeños Spicy?
There is an oil-like compound found in peppers called capsaicin. This is the source of the heat in peppers. The more capsaicin a pepper has, the hotter it is.
This hot compound is included in many pepper sprays as it is an irritant and can affect your eyes and skin.
How Much Capsaicin is in a Jalapeño?
There are many factors that go into how hot each individual jalapeño pepper is. From the variety that was planted, to how it was grown, to how it was harvested and then prepared, there are many things that can affect the level of capsaicin in a pepper.
The average amount of capsaicin in a jalapeño is about 8,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).
Compare this to a habanero pepper at 350,000 SHU and the jalapeño doesn’t seem so spicy. But, the heat can vary and some people have a lower heat tolerance which causes the need for some of these heat-reducing methods.
What Part of Jalapeños Have Capsaicin?
Peppers have what are called capsaicin glands which is where you’ll find most of the heat in the pepper. Removing this part of the pepper before eating will take away a lot of the spiciness.
How Can You Make Jalapeños Less Spicy?
As you’ll see in the list below, there are many ways to reduce the heat of a jalapeño. However, the main method is to remove the seeds and membrane which carry the majority of the capsaicin.
Does Cooking Jalapeños Make Them Less Hot?
Depending on the method of cooking, you will either make the jalapeño more or less spicy. Methods, like boiling, that add water to the pepper will reduce the heat. However, methods like roasting that remove moisture from the pepper can make it hotter.
There has also been speculation that the temperature at which peppers are cooked affects how hot they are. There isn’t a lot of information on this though.
Tips for Making Jalapeños Less Spicy
Let’s talk about some tried and true ways to make your jalapeños less hot. This will allow you to use the more mild peppers as toppings and in your favorite recipes without burning your mouth!
1. Remove the Seeds from Jalapeños to Make Them Less Hot
Did you know that the seeds in peppers don’t actually contain any capsaicin? The reason we’re told to remove them is because they can be coated in capsaicin since they are attached near the capsaicin glands.
So, we remove the seeds due to the fact that they’ve been touching the actually hot part of the pepper, not because they are hot themselves.
Remove the seeds by slicing open the pepper and cutting them out or removing them by hand. Make sure to wear gloves!
2. Remove the Capsaicin Glands From the Jalapeño to Make it Less Spicy
The capsaicin glands are where the majority of the heat comes from in a pepper. Once that is removed, you have tamed the heat quite a bit.
To remove the glands, you’ll want to slice around them avoiding the wall of the pepper that you’ll want to use later. Discard the glands and you’ll be left with a pepper that doesn’t pack as much of a punch but still has its flavor.
3. Use Salt to Make Jalapeños More Mild
You can use salt to draw out some of the heat in your peppers. You’ll want to cut the peppers in half and remove all the seeds and pith first.
Next, rub salt on the insides and leave on the pepper for about 5 minutes. Rinse the salt off of the jalapeño and you’ll be left with a less hot pepper to work with.
4. Rinse or Soak Your Jalapeños in Water to Make Them Less Hot
Simply rinsing the peppers will get rid of some of the spiciness. After removing the seeds and pith, run the peppers under cold water to rinse them off.
If you’d like to remove a bit more heat, put the peppers in a bowl and run under cold water. Soak the jalapeños for at least 30 minutes to make them more mild. You can drain the water and use the peppers for cooking and eating.
5. Soaking Jalapeños in Alcohol Will Cut Down on the Heat
Cut the jalapeños in half and remove the seeds and pith. Place the peppers into a glass jar or container. Pour enough 80% proof, clear liquor over them to cover the entire peppers.
Vodka or tequila work great and don’t change the flavor of the peppers, however, whiskey can also be used. There are many great recipes out there for spicy cocktails that you can use the alcohol that you soaked the peppers in.
6. Soak Jalapeños in Water and Vinegar to Make them Milder
Vinegar is acidic and can break down the capsaicin in peppers. In order to use vinegar, you’ll combine it with water and soak the peppers to bring the temperature down.
Simply cut your jalapeños open. Remove the seeds, capsaicin glands, and membrane. Then soak the peppers in a mixture of one part vinegar and three parts water and soak them for about an hour. You can drain the mixture and repeat the soaking process to further reduce the heat.
7. Soak Jalapeños in Lemon or Lime Juice to Make Them Less Spicy
Lemon and lime juice work in the same way as the vinegar and can make your jalapeños even tastier. Cut and prepare your jalepeños again, removing the hot parts.
Next, soak your peppers in a mixture of one part lemon or lime juice and three parts water. Soak the peppers for about an hour and drain the liquid. You can repeat this process several times to make your jalapeños milder.
8. Use Lemon-Lime Soda to Make Jalapeños Less Hot
Using a lemon-lime soda works the same as the method above, but it also has sugar which can help even out the temperature of your peppers. It’s also easier because you don’t have to measure anything out.
Simply prep your jalapeños and pour a lemon-lime soda over them making sure to submerge the peppers completely. Let this mixture soak for about an hour. Again, you can repeat this process if necessary.
9. Boiling Jalapeños Can Reduce Heat
Another way to reduce the capsaicin in jalapeños is to boil them. The capsaicin leaves the peppers in this method and dissipates into the water leaving you with a more mild pepper to work with.
To boil jalapeños to reduce the heat, you must first remove the seeds and pith from the peppers. Then, place them in boiling water. The longer you boil the peppers, the more mild they will become. However, you will lose the structure and they can become mushy.
Start with about 3 minutes and keep an eye on the peppers so they don’t become too tender for your recipe. Jalapeños are generally boiled for about 3-7 minutes with this method.
10. Serve Jalapeños With Dairy to Cut Down on Heat
Casein in dairy products helps calm the capsaicin in peppers. That’s why you might have heard that you should drink a glass of milk if you’ve eaten something too spicy. The dairy products break down the capsaicin and help wash it away.
So, if you’re using jalapeños in a recipe, try to add dairy-based ingredients like cheese and sour cream to tame the heat. For example, you’ll see this done in pizza recipes and these jalapeño poppers with cream cheese and bacon.
Reducing the Temperature of Jalapeños
As you can see, there are many easy ways to make your jalapeño peppers more mild. Knowing the anatomy of the pepper and what makes it hot enables you to cut out the hottest parts. You can then use other methods to disperse some of the heat left in the jalapeño.
You can try one or more of these methods and see what works best for you. Then, you can enjoy your milder jalapeños in your favorite recipes.