Chipotle Peppers[ PURCHASE INFO ]
Chipotle Peppers: Chipotle Peppers are smoked, dried jalapenos. Jalapenos are green for most of the growing season, but turn red in the fall. Red jalapenos are sold at a premium price in Mexico, but US growers plow them into the ground. For Chipotle the peppers are allowed to stay on the plant until they turn deep red and begin to dry out. Theses deep red jalapenos are smoked for days until completely dry. It takes about 10 pounds of jalapenos to make a pound of chipotle. Traditionally chipotle is produced in a sealed smokehouse, but some commercial producers can use gas driers and artificial smoke flavoring producing a less flavorful chipotle. In addition, there are hundreds of types of jalapenos, so not all chipotle are alike. Finding a suitable chipotle is a matter of trial and error, and keeping several products around for their individual characteristics is a good idea.
Chipotle peppers are made primarily in Chihuahua, Mexico, although they are produced in much of Mexico and in the US today. Chipotle Morita is the name given to the peppers produced in Chihuahua. Peppers produced in other places have different colors, morita means "little purple one" in Spanish and refers to the deep red, almost purple chipotle that is the most common variety. Other chiles can be smoked and dried, but only smoked red jalapenos are called chipotle. Chipotle peppres can be found whole in pods, ground, as a chili sauce, in adobo, and in several other forms. Smoking jalapenos dates back to the Aztecs who were thought to have preserved the chiles by smoking them, a process they also used on meats. Most of the spicy heat of the jalapeno is retained, setting the chipotle at about 5,000 to 10,000 Scoville units, or medium hot. You can smoke your own red jalapenos into chipotle using a home smoker or charcoal grill, they need to be turned periodically to dry properly. Most people find that buying them is a lot less work, and they are readily available in most supermarkets and mexican food stores. A little bit goes a long way, the strong smokey flavor and jalapeno heat can be used in small amounts to add a lot of flavor.
Where to buy: Chipotle