Fiery greens

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Fiery greens

Friday, 28 August 2015 | Pioneer

Fiery greens

Apart from spicing up your sandwiches and occasional dishes, jalapenos have anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties

Jalapeno is often mispronounced. The correct way to say it is halla-pen-yo. With a tilde over the ‘n’, and not hollowpen-o, or hallowpeenya.

  • Jalapenos are small green peppers best known for their hotness and are used in a variety of savoury dishes. Once only sold in Mexican specialty food stores or at farmers’ markets, they are now widely available in major supermarkets all across the world.
  • The species name of jalapenos is Capsicum annuum. They are also called gorda, bola, acorchado, morita and candelaria peppers. Jalapeno peppers are commonly around one inch in diameter, between two and three inches long and cone shaped, with a larger root end that tapers to the opposite end.
  • They are available in green or red varieties, with green being the color at early harvest. They are considered moderately hot — a five on a heat scale of one to ten.
  • Grown mainly in Texas, New Mexico and the Mexican cities of Chihuahua, Veracruz and Oaxaca, jalapenos are planted between 18 and 24 inches apart.
  • When buying fresh jalapenos, choose the ones that are unwrinkled with firm, smooth skins and solid bodies. Besides being sold fresh, jalapenos are also available in cans either roasted or pickled.
  • Although jalapenos got their name from the town where they originated, Jalapa, Mexico, they are no longer commercially cultivated in that town.
  • Jalapenos were the first peppers that travelled into space on a NASA shuttle. Ancient Aztecs were reportedly the first to use jalapenos, but they dried and smoked the peppers rather than eating them.
  • Jalapeño chilies progressively get hotter the older they get, eventually turning bright red. As they age, they develop white lines and flecks, like stretch marks running in the direction of the length of the pepper. The smoother the pepper, the younger, and milder it is.
  • The more white lines, the older and hotter they are. Red jalapeños can be pretty hot, if they have a lot of striations, but they are also sweeter.
  • Jalapeños are considered a pod type of capsicum. The growing period for a jalapeño plant is approximately 70-80 days. When mature, the plant stands 2 1/2 to 3 feet tall.
  • Chilies contain health benefiting alkaloid compound, capsaicin, which gives them the strong spicy pungent character. Tolerance level of peppers in human beings, including jalapeno peppers, may have wide individual variations. Wherever feasible, they should be consumed in moderation to avoid any untoward experiences.
  • Capsaicin has been found to have anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties, at least in some early laboratory studies on experimental mammals. It also found to reduce lDl-cholesterol levels in obese individuals.
  • Fresh jalapeno peppers are rich source of vitamin-C. 100 gms provide about 118.6 µg or about 198 per cent of RDA. Vitamin C is a potent water-soluble antioxidant. It is required for the collagen synthesis within the body.
  • They also contain other valuable antioxidants such as vitamin A, and flavonoids like beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, zea xanthin, and cryptoxanthin. These antioxidant substances in capsicum help to protect the body from injurious effects of free-radicals generated from stress and disease conditions.

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