Jalapeño Heat: A Journey Through the Scoville Scale with Small Axe Peppers

Dive into the world of jalapeños, a cornerstone of spicy cuisine beloved for its perfect balance of heat and flavor. This post explores the jalapeño’s journey from its origins to its place on the Scoville Scale, celebrating its versatility and the rich tapestry of flavors it brings to the table. Join us as we delve into the story of the jalapeño, highlighting its role in the creation of Small Axe Peppers’ Jalapeño Hot Sauce Three Pack, where each sauce is a tribute to the local flavors and spirit of cities like Chicago, Oakland, and Queens.

Understanding the Jalapeño: A Historical Perspective

The jalapeño pepper’s story begins long before it garnished dishes across the globe, rooted deeply in the agricultural practices of pre-Columbian America. Indigenous peoples, particularly the Aztecs, were among the first to cultivate the jalapeño, valuing it for both its culinary versatility and medicinal properties. They employed jalapeños in various forms, from fresh and raw to smoked and dried (chipotle), integrating them into their diet to add flavor and heat to their meals. The Aztecs also recognized the jalapeño’s ability to preserve food, a critical attribute in a time without refrigeration.

Mexico’s rich biodiversity, particularly its warm and humid climate, creates the perfect conditions for growing a wide variety of peppers, including jalapeños. This abundance is reflected in the integral role peppers play in Mexican cuisine, where jalapeños are celebrated for their moderate heat and distinctive flavor. They are used in an array of dishes, from salsas and sauces to the classic “chiles rellenos” (stuffed peppers) and “jalapeño poppers,” showcasing their versatility.

The global journey of the jalapeño began with the Spanish conquest of the Americas, as explorers and colonizers brought back many New World foods, including tomatoes, chocolate, and various peppers, to Europe. The jalapeño, with its robust flavor and manageable heat, quickly found favor across the continent and beyond. Portuguese traders further spread jalapeños along their trade routes to Africa and Asia, where they were adopted into local cuisines and agriculture.

Outside of Mexico, jalapeños are widely used in a variety of culinary traditions:

  • In the United States, jalapeños have become a staple in Tex-Mex cuisine, particularly in Tex-Mex dishes.
  • In Korea, jalapeños are often sliced and used as a fresh, crisp garnish on dishes like bibimbap or as a spicy element in kimchi.
  • In India, pickled jalapeños are commonly served alongside meals, providing a spicy tang that balances the rich and complex flavors of Indian dishes.

The jalapeño’s spread around the world is a testament to its adaptability and appeal. As cultures embraced the jalapeño, they found innovative ways to incorporate it into their cuisine, making it a global symbol of culinary fusion and creativity. We even made a spicy jalapeno margarita! Which pairs perfectly with Small Axe Peppers Tacos!

The Scoville Scale and Jalapeños

The jalapeño’s position on the Scoville Scale, ranging from 2,500 to 8,000 SHU, informs Small Axe Peppers’ approach to creating hot sauces that balance the pepper’s moderate heat with diverse flavors. This understanding enables the creation of products like the Jalapeño Hot Sauce Three Pack, which not only highlights the jalapeño’s versatile heat but also pays homage to the unique culinary traditions of Chicago, Oakland, and Queens. This strategy ensures the sauces cater to a wide range of tastes, from newcomers to spice enthusiasts, demonstrating the importance of the Scoville Scale in developing hot sauces that are both approachable and rich in flavor.

Jalapeños and Small Axe Peppers

Reflecting the jalapeño’s global journey and versatility, Small Axe Peppers has crafted a trio of jalapeño-based hot sauces, each inspired by the local flavors of different American cities:

  • The Chicago Hot Sauce: This sauce captures the city’s love for bold flavors, incorporating jalapeños into a spicy relish that’s perfect for hot dogs and sausages.
  • The Oakland Hot Sauce: Emphasizes the sweet and spicy balance, with California raisins adding a unique sweetness to the jalapeño’s heat, ideal for marinades and glazes.
  • The Queens 7 Hot Sauce: The most diverse of the three, it combines jalapeños with a blend of ingredients reflecting Queens’ multiculturalism, delivering a sauce that’s as complex as the borough itself.

These sauces exemplify how jalapeños can be the star of the show or play a supporting role, enhancing dishes with their distinctive flavor and heat. Small Axe Peppers’ creative use of jalapeños in these sauces invites food lovers to explore new taste sensations, encouraging culinary experimentation and appreciation for the pepper’s versatility.

The jalapeño’s adaptability in dishes from around the world demonstrates its universal appeal and underscores the importance of understanding its heat and flavor to fully harness its culinary potential.

The Agronomy Behind Jalapeños

Small Axe Peppers purchases peppers grown in community gardens and urban farms to make our hot sauce. Here is how you can grow jalapeno peppers in your home garden. Jalapeños, like most chili peppers, thrive in warm, well-drained soils and need a good amount of sunlight to develop their signature heat and flavor.

Lifecycle and Growth Timeline: Jalapeños generally take around 70 to 80 days from planting to harvest. The process begins with seeds, which should be planted in nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. Once the seedlings develop and the threat of frost has passed, transplanting them outdoors or into larger pots is the next step. They should be placed in a location that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily.

Soil and Planting: The ideal soil pH for jalapeños is between 6.0 and 6.8. When planting, space the jalapeño plants 14 to 24 inches apart in rows 24 to 36 inches apart, allowing enough room for each plant to grow.

Tending to the Plants: Jalapeños need regular watering to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. As the plants grow, staking or supporting them with cages can prevent the stems from breaking under the weight of the fruit.

Sunlight and Temperature: The ideal growing temperature is between 70°F and 85°F. Temperatures below 60°F can slow growth, while extreme heat above 90°F can cause flower drop and reduce yield.

Harvesting: Jalapeños can be harvested at any size, but they are typically ready when they are firm, glossy, and 3 to 4 inches in length. To harvest, cut the jalapeños from the plant with scissors or a sharp knife to avoid damaging the plant and the pepper.

Understanding these growing conditions and care requirements is crucial for cultivating jalapeño peppers that reach their full flavor and heat potential. By paying attention to the life cycle, soil, sun, and temperature needs of the jalapeño, gardeners can enjoy a bountiful harvest of this versatile and popular chili pepper.


The jalapeño pepper, with its vibrant history and moderate heat, exemplifies the dynamic world of chili peppers and their integral role in cuisines across the globe. From its origins in Mexico to its widespread embrace in diverse culinary traditions, the jalapeño has proven itself to be much more than just a source of heat. Its ability to add depth, flavor, and a healthful kick to dishes makes it a favorite among chefs and home cooks alike.

This journey through the Scoville Scale, agronomy, and culinary uses of jalapeños highlights not only the pepper’s significance in global cuisine but also the thoughtful approach Small Axe Peppers takes in crafting their hot sauces. By understanding and embracing the jalapeño’s cultural and culinary significance, Small Axe Peppers offers a product that’s deeply rooted in tradition yet innovative and reflective of the diverse communities that enjoy it.

As we continue to explore the vast and varied world of spicy foods, let the jalapeño be a reminder of the connections we share through the meals we eat. Whether adding a dash of hot sauce to your favorite dish or experimenting with jalapeños in your cooking, there’s always an opportunity to discover new flavors and experiences that celebrate the universal language of food.

Embrace the heat and flavor of jalapeños with Small Axe Peppers’ Jalapeño Hot Sauce Three Pack. Discover the unique stories each bottle tells and how they can inspire your culinary adventures. Share your favorite jalapeño recipes or hot sauce pairings with us, and join a community of spice lovers who appreciate the rich diversity and joy that spicy foods bring to our lives.

Explore the Jalapeño Hot Sauce Three Pack