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It’s Not Just You—Jalapeños Are Actually Not as Spicy as They Used To Be

Here's the real reason why.

<p>Dotdash Meredith / Janet Maples</p>

Dotdash Meredith / Janet Maples

Have you noticed that jalapeño peppers aren't so hot and spicy lately? You’re not alone. Jalapeños are growing less spicy and there are some heated debates on the topic.

Conversations on social media have included comments about this “diabolical” revelation—and the frustration is directed at the corporatization of agriculture. “Big Ag actually made jalapeños less spicy—you’re not going nuts,” healthcare writer Timothy Faust tweeted along with a link to a "D Magazine" story from last year titled “Here’s Why Jalapeño Peppers Are Less Spicy Than Ever” by Brian Reinhart.

Are Jalapeños Getting Less Spicy?

Social media users feel that jalapeños are intentionally being grown to be less spicy so that they can be more marketable. The conversation from both home cooks and professional chefs has suggested that jalapeños seem to lack the zing they used to add to dishes.

According to Reinhart's article, the reason for the dialed-down heat is due to a demand for consistent peppers to use in the mass production of canned goods, salsas, and more. After years of development, a variety called TAM II came to fruition for just this purpose. This breed of pepper trades the signature spicy kick for a larger, faster-growing fruit with a mellow flavor that can then be manipulated with added oleoresin capsicum to get the “mild,” “medium” and “hot” labels we look for on store shelves.

The taming of jalapeños' heat is produced with advanced farming technology that standardizes the crops so growers can better push their products.

Different Varieties of Hot Peppers to Use

For consumers who crave the natural spicy element of a classic jalapeño, TAM II isn’t providing the heat they want in their recipes. This may also be why the demand for varieties like serrano peppers (chile peppers with three times the heat of jalapeños) has soared in popularity—with customers looking for a replacement for all their spicy ingredient needs.

In addition to serrano peppers, Fresno peppers also have a similar spice level and are around the same size. Chili powder or flakes offer a comparable heat and are easy swap-outs for dishes that don’t require fresh peppers. Of course, to really kick things up a notch, opt for habaneros.

The other solution offered in Reinhart's piece is to ask what breed of jalapeño your store carries. Mitla and Early jalapeños tend to be the spicy kind. Plan on buying from local markets, small-scale farmers, or growing your own. Farmers markets are starting to open for the season and local plant nurseries will be stocking young plants if you want to grow your own in containers or the garden. Make sure you also read up on our hot tip to pick out the spiciest peppers before you shop.

The Bottom Line

Shifting demand for different kinds of produce has changed the way certain favorites, like avocados, garlic, potatoes, and even the hottest of hot peppers, are coming to stores. And jalapeños are no exception. This might mean a milder variety for shoppers in some cases but being informed means you can choose what you are buying and pick up the peppers that best suit your needs.

Read the original article on All Recipes.