What’s Fresh in July? Jala!

Spice up your summer with fiery and fruity jalapeño peppers.

By Maddie Bane

What does a nosey pepper do? Gets jalapeño business. In the Lowcountry, July is prime harvesting time for these heat-packed peppers. They can range in a few different colors. Red is when they’re considered to be ripe, but green is when they’re at their crispiest and hottest stage. The hotness of peppers is measured with Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Jalapeños come in between 2,500 to 8,000 SHU, but that’s nothing compared to the world’s hottest pepper — the Carolina Reaper. It’s got an average of 1.64 million SHU and was actually born 3 1/2 hours from here in Rock Hill. No matter how hot (or mild) you like jalapeños; they’re a must in the kitchen, and maybe even in the medicine cabinet. 

Burn so good

With only four calories and one gram of carbs in one raw jalapeño, it’s just as healthy as it is spicy. Jalapeños are full of vitamins A and C and potassium, but their biggest benefit is a compound called capsaicin. It’s what makes the pepper hot, but it’s also a natural pain reliever. It’s definitely not ideal to rub the jalapeño directly on your skin, but many creams and ointments have this ingredient, which helps with arthritis, sore muscles, and nerve trouble. 

Under the Lowcountry sun 

If you’re planning on planting your own jalapeño peppers, there are some things to keep in mind. Be sure to plant the seeds 14 to 24 inches apart in the sunniest location you have. The best soil to use is well-draining and one that’s loaded with organic matter. Don’t over water, and make sure the soil is dried out two inches down before watering again. As the weather gets hotter, use materials such as straw or grass clippings to keep the soil cool. When the jalapeños are ready to harvest, use a knife to cut them off the stem, rather than plucking, in order to avoid damaging the plant.

How to use them

The uses for jalapeños are endless. Chop them up and load raw slices onto sandwiches and tacos, or get a jar of candied ones to top off your pizza. You also could add them into your homemade cornbread. A fan favorite, of course, is slicing those bad boys in half, filling them up with cream cheese, and wrapping a piece of bacon around them. Yum!

Where to buy them

You’ll be able to find plenty of jalapeños at your favorite grocery store, but don’t forget to browse local farmers markets for something a little fresher. 

Where to order them

¡Holy Nachos!: House tortilla chips, cheddar, queso, pico de gallo, jalapeños and lime crema. Add chicken, beef, chorizo, carnitas, shrimp, or steak. 

Strawberry Jalapeño Grilled Wings: Perfect 10 BBQ sauce blended with strawberries and jalapeños. 

Poke Bowl: Small cubed sashimi-grade tuna, soy, green onions, ginger, jalapeños, sesame oil, artisan lettuce, toasted macadamia nuts over protein noodles.

LOCAL Life Test Kitchen

Spicy egg muffins


12 strips bacon

1 dozen eggs

2 jalapeños, sliced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Green onion, chopped (garnish)


[1] Heat oven to 400 degrees. [2] In a medium bowl, stir eggs until yolks are broken. Add in salt and pepper and jalapeno slices. [3] In a muffin pan, spray each cup with nonstick spray and add one piece of bacon along the edge, creating a circle. [4] Pour egg mixture evenly into each cup. Bake for 15 minutes.
[5] Garnish with green onions and enjoy. 

LOCAL Life Test Kitchen 

Mexican-inspired chili


2 cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 6-ounce can tomato paste 

2 cups corn, fresh or frozen

1 cup water

1 teaspoon cumin

4 teaspoons chili powder

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 jalapeños, sliced

Lime wedges


[1] In a 4- or 6-quart slow cooker, combine all beans, tomato paste, corn, water, cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper. [2] Cook for 8 to 10 hours on a low heat setting, or 4 to 5 hours on a high heat setting. [3] When ready to serve, garnish with jalapeño slices and lime wedges. 

LOCAL Life Test Kitchen 

Green pizza


1 package pre-made pizza crust

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 6-ounce can pesto sauce

2 green tomatoes, sliced

1 jalapeno, sliced

1/2 avocado, sliced

1 zucchini, cut thinly, lengthwise 

1 package fresh mozzarella, sliced

Fresh basil (garnish)


[1] Prepare your pizza dough as directed on the package’s instructions. Drizzle olive oil and add pesto sauce. [2] Layer on mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, zucchini, avocado, and jalapeño. Bake as directed. [3] Once cooked, garnish with basil leaves and enjoy. 

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