A nacho is not complete without a favorite topping: pickled jalapenos. With a jar in the fridge, we can make nachos at home that’ll taste as delicious as store-bought nachos. A jar of pickled jalapenos is a great alternative for fresh jalapenos, especially when the supply of fresh jalapenos in supermarkets and groceries is scarce. And please, don’t stop at nachos. Pickled jalapenos are very versatile, a perfect fit for many different kinds of food, may it be a casual tub of nachos or the more elegant charcuterie board.
Pickled Jalapeno Trivia
- Patrick Bertoletti is the current Major League Eating record-holder for eating the most pickled jalapenos. He ate 275 pickled jalapenos in 8 minutes. He achieved this feat on May 1, 2011. In the Short-Form category, Bertoletti consumed 191 pickled jalapenos in 6.5 minutes on September 16, 2007, another record to his name.
- Corking refers to the small brown lines or scars visible on the skin of jalapeños, indicative of the heat level of the jalapeño. Some do not like jalapeños with visible corking, while others like jalapeños, especially pickled jalapeños, with visible corking.
- Jalapenos have the distinction of being the only member of the pepper family that shouldn’t be allowed to ripen. These are harvested even before they are fully ripe.
Pickled Jalapeno Buying Guide
If you are buying pickled jalapenos, you can find it in the produce or international section of the supermarket (if the brands are mostly imported or the product is uncommon locally), or in the aisle with shelves dedicated for canned, pickled, or preserved foods.
Pickled jalapenos are available in big supermarkets and grocery stores. In Texas, you can find big food brands sold in major retail locations. For example, there are a lot of choices at H-E-B, an American privately held supermarket chain based in San Antonio, Texas, for pickled jalapenos, as well as in Walmart stores in Texas where different pickled jalapeno brands are also sold.
If you can’t go to the farmers market or do groceries, you can also order pickled jalapenos online. You can buy Texas Hill Country Pickled Jalapeno Peppers via Amazon.
When buying pickled jalapenos, we recommend you go local! There are many small, local, artisanal businesses that make small-batch pickled jalapenos, usually using their surplus jalapenos from their farm or backyard garden.
There are also restaurants in Texas making their own pickled jalapenos and serving these to customers who rave about it and keep coming back for more. Customers enjoyed the cheeseburger laced with pickled jalapeno at Maple & Motor, which is located in Dallas.
When buying pickled jalapenos, check the packaging. Make sure there is no damage or anything that suggests the contents inside have been compromised and rendered unsafe to consume. Check if the plastic seal is intact. Inspect the contents inside (jars are usually transparent or see-through, allowing you to see the contents of the jar).
The upside of buying pickled jalapenos over fresh jalapenos is you are sure how hot or spicy the jalapeno is. Pickled jalapenos are labeled accordingly, so that consumers know if what they are buying is mildly hot, medium hot, or really hot, depending on their tolerance to spicy food. With fresh jalapenos, you don’t know for sure until you’ve eaten them.
If crispiness is of utmost importance to the dish, buy fresh jalapenos instead of pickled jalapenos.
Pickled Jalapeno Production & Farming in Texas
Texans love jalapenos. There are many local, small businesses that make awesome pickled jalapenos. Some of the popular Texas-made pickled jalapenos include Jed’s Finest Jalapenos in Houston, Clawtel Ranch Jalapenos in South Houston, and Atomic Kitchen in Dallas.
Aside from buying directly from these businesses in their physical or online stores, you can also find pickled jalapenos in farmers’ markets and similar venues that feature local vendors selling homemade artisanal products, like Living Well Market and The Groves Marketplace, both located in Humble.
Peppers like jalapenos are grown in Texas, planted in mid-March to mid-July. The majority of harvested jalapenos produced by commercial growers are processed for pickling and canning or as an ingredient for prepared food products and salsas.
If you are thinking of making pickled jalapenos at home, consider the fact that jalapeños are a low-acid food with a pH of 4.8 to 6.0, depending on the maturity of the jalapeño. As a result, pickling jalapeños may result in a jar that is gassy, mushy, moldy, and even foul-smelling if you are not meticulous in your preparation.
Sheena Moore of Sheena’s Pickles (Austin, Texas) shares her pickled jalapeno recipe that requires water, vinegar, salt, and sugar for the brine, jalapenos, and red pepper flakes for added flavor.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals
A jar of pickled jalapenos may contain these additives.
- Calcium chloride – This is important in producing pickled jalapenos. This helps in keeping the jalapenos firm.
- Sodium benzoate – Also called benzoic acid. This is added to improve the shelf life of pickled jalapenos.
- Phosphoric Acid – Also known as additive E338, this is used to acidify foods.
- Sodium Bisulfite – This preservative is used as an antimicrobial agent and antioxidant in food.
- Yellow 5 – Food coloring is used to make the product appear more appealing.
Jalapenos, and pickled jalapenos, are popular in Mexico. This pickled product is also enjoyed in many parts of the US especially in California and throughout the American Southwest. In Europe, European companies are importing and distributing pickled jalapenos made from Mexico locally, like CORNiCO Company from the Slovak Republic, the local distributor of canned sliced jalapenos made in Mexico.
Pickled jalapenos are sold in glass jars or plastic bottles. Check the plastic seal. It should be intact. If this is broken or damaged, the product may have been tampered with and the quality and safety have been compromised. Do not buy pickled jalapenos with damaged safety seals, or those that have other signs of damage like cracks on the bottle.
An important part of the packaging is the label, which contains important information for the consumers, including the name of the manufacturer, expiration or best-before date, ingredients, nutritional information, storage instruction, etc.
Enjoying Pickled Jalapenos
Pickled jalapenos have a briny, spicy flavor. Some would describe the experience of eating pickled jalapenos as sensing a floral, peppery heat in the food. You will notice that pickled jalapenos have a vinegary acidity taste to them compared to the fresh and grassy flavor profile you get when eating fresh jalapenos. According to authors Zarela Martinez and Anne Mendelson, in their book Zarela’s Veracruz: Mexico’s Simplest Cuisine, wrote: “Home-pickled or commercially pickled jalapenos lend a special vividness to some dishes built on fundamentally Spanish flavors.”
You can serve and eat pickled jalapeños sliced or whole, hot or cold. It is a popular ingredient of nachos. Pickled jalapeños add flavor and spiciness to foods.
How hot a jalapeño can get depends on factors like cultivation and preparation. Jalapeños can go as high as 10,000 Scoville heat units. So expect your pickled jalapeño to have that zing and make you sweat, that’s for sure!
The downside to eating pickled jalapenos is potentially exacerbating heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome. Be careful when eating pickled jalapenos. If you are buying a jar or if you keep one at home, always inspect the condition of the jar to make sure it is not contaminated and carry the threat of causing outbreaks of illnesses, including salmonella.
Refrigerate pickled jalapenos after opening the jar. A jar of homemade pickled jalapeno can last for months up to a year if refrigerated. For a store-bought jar of pickled jalapeno, consume and store as indicated in the label.
Use pickled jalapenos for your nachos. Use it along with cheese as topping for biscuits or crackers, which is perfect finger food. Use it to make sandwiches, grilled cheese, cocktail party gougères, burgers, ham and eggs, toasts, steak, baked potatoes, fresh salads and wedge salads, stews, or as topping or filling for pizza, burritos, and quesadillas. Chopped pickled jalapenos are a great addition to fruity cocktails. Pickled jalapeno is great with fatty, cheesy, herbed, and dairy-heavy dishes. The brine of pickled jalapenos can be used to flavor soup.
Rachel Rappaport, in her book Cooking with Frank’s RedHot Cayenne Pepper Sauce: Delicious Recipes That Bring the Heat, wrote: “A favorite topping for chili, an original ingredient in nachos, and the perfect addition to tacos, pickled jalapenos have so many uses!”
You can even use these when making cocktail drinks, like Bloody Mary or martini. Pickled jalapenos are great with onions, black beans, cheese, vegetables, aromatic herbs and spices, meat, potatoes, corn, bread, and lime juice, among others.
You may want to try Braised Pork Belly Tacos with Chipotle Red Pepper Chutney and Pickled Jalapenos, a recommendation from authors Jacob Wilson and Ryan Lowery in their 2017 book The Ketogenic Bible: The Authoritative Guide to Ketosis.
Adding pickled jalapenos to your diet means the body will get additional calories, carotene, carbohydrates, folate, fiber, potassium, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin B. The capsaicin in pickled jalapenos helps promote blood flow and prevent obesity. It can also help in pain relief. Eating spicy foods like pickled jalapenos can also help in weight loss and in managing blood sugar.