Does Fire Roasting a Jalapeno Make It Hotter?

Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

When you hear the term “fire roasting,” you may assume that you are adding heat to the dish you're cooking. If you're using hot peppers, such as jalapenos, the opposite actually occurs. Fire-roasting a jalapeno breaks down the capsaicin in the skin, reducing the pepper’s heat while giving it a sweet and smoky flavor.

Jalapenos Pack the Heat

While many people think of jalapenos as a hot pepper, the pepper is relatively low on the Scoville heat scale, which measures the heat index created by the capsaicin in the pepper. Bell peppers, for example, contain only traces of capsaicin and rate a 0 on the scale, while jalapenos rank between 2,500 and 8,000 units. While this may sound like a large number, it pales in comparison to habaneros, which weigh in at 100,000 to 350,000 units, and the hottest pepper, the Trinidad scorpion, at 1,200,000 to 2,000,000 units.

Dousing the Flames

While jalapenos may not rank high on the heat scale, they provide a heat that is still too much for many diners. If they're too hot for you, try fire roasting them to reduce the heat so you can still enjoy the flavor. Fire roasting involves cooking the jalapenos on a direct flame until the skin blackens and loosens. Removing the skin also removes some heat. In addition to roasting, you can boil them in salt water. Remove the seeds and inner white membrane -- where the jalapeno contains the most capsaicin -- also reduces the heat level.