Jalapeño peppers are mostly grown in Mexico, New Mexico, and Texas. On the Scoville scale (a scale for measuring the heat in peppers devised by Wilbur Scoville, a pharmacist, in 1912), they rank between 2500-10,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). This means that a chipotle pepper is relatively mild in comparison to a pure capsicum which tops the scale at 15-16 million units.
Jalapeño peppers originated in Mexico in a town in Veracruz called Xalapa–hence the name, jalapeño. The plants are about 2.5 to 3 feet high and produce 25-30 plants per season. Growers pick several times throughout the season; the red, unripened peppers are chosen to be smoked to make chipotles (pronounced chee-POTE-lays).
How are they smoked?
It can be a fairly long drawn-out affair, as it can take from 16 to 48 hours, depending upon whom you ask, to do the job right. Wood such as pecan, oak, hickory, and mesquite (which we are partial to here at Fischer & Wieser), must be secured and soaked—or not, depending on the directions on the wood package. Peppers must be rinsed, halved & de-seeded (unless you like yours hottest, because that’s where the majority of the heat resides in these plants), then placed on the grill over indirect heat, spaced a bit apart, then covered, vents opened–and allowed to smoke. So one must tend the fire and keep the charcoal going, wood on top of the charcoal, etc., for quite a long while.
When Case D. Fischer was trying to come up with a fantastic fruit-pepper combination in the early 1990′s for a gourmet cooking sauce, he experimented with many, until he finally decided upon the raspberry for the fruit—but didn’t have just the perfect pepper—until a friend of his, Rusty Fenton, suggested the chipotle. He found out all he could about it, got ahold of some, and The Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce® was the result. It was a hit! Several friends in the grocery business were contacted to sample it, and Fischer & Wieser immediately got orders not just for bottles, but for cases of the sauce! What was to become the signature sauce of Fischer & Wieser Specialty Foods, Inc. won the Gold Award for Outstanding New Best Seller in 1997 at the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (like the Oscars for the movie industry). The rest is history. Many awards later, The Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce® is now sold throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, the UK and more.
Several other sauces produced by the company use chipotle peppers, including Chipotle Chile Ketchup, Four Star Black Raspberry Chipotle Sauce, Pomegranate & Mango Chipotle Sauce, Roasted Blackberry Chipotle Sauce, Roasted Blueberry Chipotle Sauce, and Smokehouse Bacon and Chipotle Grilling Sauce, proving that the chipotle pepper was truly a “find.” Developing this sauce was a true labor of love for Case D. Fischer, and who knows when the next great fruit-pepper combination will emerge to take its place alongside The Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce®?
More interesting articles and source material for this post: