When you grow up in Texas, you eat a LOT of spicy Tex-Mex food.
And I don't just mean eating out in a restaurant (although that certainly happens!).
In our house, I could open the fridge at any given moment and always find a few things — homemade salsa, a bottle of Tabasco, and a gallon-size jar of pickled jalapeño peppers.
My mom bought jars of pickled peppers in bulk, and we went through them like crazy. They graced the table at just about every meal — even the non-spicy meals. We Texans are lovers of all the spicy things, and we'll add heat to our non-spicy food every chance we get!
My dad piled them on everything… hot dogs and burgers, breakfast burritos, chili, homemade enchiladas, and of course, our Saturday night nachos.
3 Awesome Benefits Of Jalapeño Peppers
Jalapeños are little green powerhouses, in my opinion.
#1 — They're high in Vitamin C. This antioxidant is an immune-booster and helps fight oxidative stress and free radicals, which damage cells and may lead to the development of cancer.
#2 — They're a good source of capsaicin. Capsaicin provides the heat in peppers, yet it also has other major benefits. It has analgesic properties to reduce pain and inflammation (like natural Tylenol!). Capsaicin has been used for centuries to reduce joint and muscle pain, back pain, and arthritis pain. (Source).
Capsaicin has also shown the ability to kill cancer cells by triggering the mitochondria in cancer cells to virtually commit “cell suicide” (source)!
#3 — They make you sweat. The heat in jalapeños and other hot peppers causes an almost immediate, but temporary, rise in body temperature. Have you noticed beads of sweat forming on your upper lip or forehead when you eat spicy food? Then you've experienced this! A higher body temperature is linked to a powerful, fat-burning metabolism, which helps maintain a healthy weight. (Source and source).
Of course, the peppers must remain raw — not cooked or canned — to provide all of these benefits.
Naturally Fermented Jalapeño Peppers
Pickled jalapeños are still a staple in my home, yet now they aren't canned in vinegar. Mine are naturally fermented jalapeño peppers — still raw and full of enzymes and beneficial, gut-loving bacteria!
The flavor of these pickled peppers beats the vinegar-y peppers of my childhood. There is no sour vinegar flavor at all!
In fact, naturally fermented jalapeño peppers are the perfect ferment to start with, if you love spicy foods but not the sourness of ferments!
Use any starter culture you have on hand. Whey, liquid from Bubbie's pickles, or liquid from a previous homemade ferment, such as sauerkraut, all work. (I personally prefer to use Bubbie's liquid or liquid from my homemade ferments.)
Naturally Fermented Jalapeño Peppers
Slice the peppers about 1/8" to 1/4" thick.
Thinly slice the garlic.
Add the peppers and garlic to a quart-size Mason jar and pack them in. Fill to the neck of the jar.
Add salt and starter culture to the jar.
Fill with filtered water.
Cap jar and leave out to ferment for at least 3 days.
You can ferment up to 6 months for a very strong batch.
Check the jar twice a day and "burp" to let out built up gases.
When you're ready, transfer the peppers to cold storage where they will keep for several months.
If you save your fermenting liquid, like I do, and want to use it for this recipe, omit the salt and water and simply pour the fermenting liquid over the peppers and garlic to the neck of the jar.
Just make sure whatever herbs and spices were in your previous ferment go well with hot peppers and garlic. For instance, if you add caraway seeds to your sauerkraut, you may prefer to use salt + water or another fermenting liquid instead, if you don't like the flavor of caraway in your peppers.
Blend the peppers with a bit of the fermenting liquid until smooth for a hot pepper sauce, similar to Tabasco.
Add 10 to 20 slices of naturally fermented jalapeños in place of raw peppers to homemade salsa as the starter. Then you don't need a starter culture!
Do you love jalapeños? Have you ever fermented peppers?
This post featured in 92 Nourishing Grill & Barbecue Dishes, Drinks, & Desserts.
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