You’ve probably seen the word “Chipotle” becoming increasingly popular throughout the culinary world. Chipotle can be found in numerous recipes. A chain restaurant even named themselves after it. But what exactly is chipotle?
Chipotle Is A Pepper
Although its name is used to describe many different things, chipotle actually is nothing more than jalapeño pepper that has been smoked and dried. Typically, it is then ground into a spice, providing the smoky flavor that you are likely accustomed to when having a chipotle-based dish.
Chipotles can be traced as far back as the ancient Aztecs. They developed chipotles upon realizing that they could not completely air-dry a jalapeño pepper without it rotting because the flesh of the pepper was so thick. They discovered that first smoking their peppers was a preservative measure that would help them air-dry. It’s believed that the word chipotle is a derivative of the Nahuatl word “chilpoctli” which translates to “smoked chili pepper.”
Chipotle peppers are considered to provide a medium heat. In terms of heat, they are similar to
• Espellette Peppers
• Guajillo Chili
• Anaheim Peppers
• Hungarian Wax Peppers
• Tabasco Sauce
The heat of a chipotle will largely be determined by the heat of the jalapeño it originated as.
Selecting Peppers To become Chipotles
Chipotle peppers and seasonings are often found in Mexican and Mexican-inspired dishes. They are very popular in Southern California, which is why we have incorporated the spice into some of our soups and dishes.
A jalapeno grower typically picks unripe, green jalapeños to be sold as whole peppers. He will leave other peppers on the vine, allowing them to ripen and turn bright red in color. Some of these peppers will be picked and sold to market in the United States and Mexico, where there is a strong market for red jalapeños.
Other peppers will be left on the vine until they are deep red and have lost some of their moisture. These peppers are the ones that will be turned into chipotles