The chemical that gives hot peppers their "heat" is called capsaicin. Some people believe that eating foods containing capsaicin (namely hot peppers) releases endorphins, allowing them to experience pleasurable and even euphoric effects from these foods. If this is truly the case my endorphins took a wrong turn somewhere, because I find the burning sensation from eating hot peppers to be most unpleasant. The flavor of foods containing hot peppers is often wonderful at first taste; then the capsaicin comes in contact with mucous membranes and yikes! The first reaction for most people is to reach for a glass of water, which will do little to stop the burning. A better choice is milk, because it contains casein, which allows the capsaicin to wash away. So what's a girl to do if she wants to enjoy a few jalapeno poppers without also consuming a gallon of milk? Give Fooled You jalapenos a try!
Fooled You is a hybrid (F-1) variety of jalapeno with virtually no heat. They have the flavor and appearance of jalapenos, but you can munch them like bell peppers. They are typically just a bit larger than regular jalapenos at about 3 ¼ inches long and 1 inch wide. The fruit is heavy, thick-walled, and will turn from green to red if allowed to mature on the plant. The plant will grow to just over 2 feet tall and many seed companies boast large yields in about 65 days.
Admittedly, my first experience with Fooled You peppers gave me a better understanding of the euphoria "pepperheads" experience with capsaicin. My husband is a true pepperhead and our kitchen is fully stocked with every kind of hot pepper sauce, seasoning, and salsa known to man. Most of our friends share his love for hot and spicy foods as well, so when we have social events involving food everyone typically makes a tame version of their recipe for the wimp (me!) and their regular sinus-clearing, tear-producing versions for everyone else. We were at a cookout at the lake one summer evening and our friends were grilling stuffed jalapenos, which always looked scrumptious, but I didn't dare. They assured me these were not the average jalapeno. I was very apprehensive, especially when told the peppers were called Fooled You, but decided to be a trooper and give them a try. Wonderful flavor, absolutely no burn...ladies and gentlemen, we have a Fooled You pepperhead in the crowd!
A few suggestions beyond poppers and salsa for using Fooled You peppers:
* Jazz up a favorite stir-fry recipe
* Toss in a salad or coleslaw
* Add to soups, stews, spaghetti sauce, or chili
* Serve raw with dip on a veggie tray
* Saute with onions and celery to use in stuffing
* Chop in chicken or tuna salad
* Slice strips to add a flavorful crunch to sandwiches
* Make pickled peppers
* Cut lengthwise, remove seeds, and make peanut butter or cream cheese pepper boats instead of celery logs for snacks
Photo credit: Many thanks to Beth McConnell for the use of her Fooled You plant photo