Jalapeños are popular spicy peppers used in a variety of Mexican dishes and salsa recipes. They form as green peppers from white blossoms and turn red if left on the vine long enough. The Scoville heat scale, developed in 1912 by a chemist to measure the heat value of peppers, registers jalapeño peppers at about 5,000 units, making it a hot, but manageable pepper. There are a few different types of jalapeños that enthusiastic gardeners can grow.
The Senorita pepper is a jalapeño that takes 80 days to mature from the time it was planted as a seed. It is a plant that produces spicy jalapeño fruit registering about 5,000 points on the scoville scale. It grows to about 3 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Plants grow about 2 feet tall. Fruit appears dark green and turns purple, then red when left on the vine until maturity. It is in the capsicum annuum species and is resistant to the tobacco mosaic virus, a microscopic virus that attacks tobacco plants, tomatoes and peppers, including non-resistant varieties of jalapeño plants.
The fresno chile plant is closely related to the senorita, but takes less time to produce fruit and become mature. This plant produces smaller, milder fruit than the senorita standard. Fruit is small (only 7.5 centimetres in length) and is very mild, registering only 300-400 units on the scoville scale. This plant is also resistant to the tobacco mosaic virus.
The Sierra Fuego is a hybrid jalapeño pepper plant that produces lots of fruit measuring 3 1/2 inches long by 1 1/2 inches wide. Fruit is mildly hot and grows from dark green to red when mature, which usually occurs in 80 days. Sierra Fuego peppers are an excellent variety to pickle.
The Mucho Nacho jalapeño plant is another hybrid, like the Sierra Fuego, but matures even faster. Fruit can be harvested 68 days from planting. Peppers are large and feature more flavour but less heat. Fruit grows to 4 inches in length and are excellent for pickling. They are also good for fresh salsa and inclusion in enchiladas and other Mexican dishes.