How To Grow Jalapenos & Preserve Your Harvest
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Are you as much a fan of spicy food as I am? I can’t think of many meals that don’t taste better with a kick of heat. Learning how to grow jalapenos in your own garden will provide you with fresh hot peppers for all kinds of cooking.
I have to be honest:
We always grow way more jalapenos than we can eat or even share, but I just love pepper plants so much. Jalapeno plants are quite beautiful when the plants are loaded with peppers all turning colors.
In the kitchen, Jalapenos are one of the most versatile spicy peppers you can use. They can be eaten fresh, roasted, and dehydrated to use in appetizers, flavor main dishes, and homemade sauces. But we’ll get to that in just a minute.
How to grow jalapenos from seeds
Start your jalapenos seeds about 8 weeks before your last frost date. (I use this tool to help me decide when to start all my seeds.)
Set the seeds in germination mix no more than one centimeter (about 1/2 inch) deep. For containers, you don’t need anything fancy. Try one of these upcycled seed starting pots.
All peppers need warm soil to germinate. Give your peppers the best chance by placing them on a heat mat with thermometer and set the temperature to 75-80 degrees.
Pepper seeds can be slow to sprout so give them up to 14 days. There are a few things that can prevent good germination, but with appropriate temps and moisture, pepper seeds are pretty easy to sprout.
Transplant seedlings, if needed, when they get their first true leaves. And start the process to harden them off about a week before they go out in the garden.
To harden them off simply means to gradually get them used to full sun by taking them outside for a few hours a day for several days in a row.
Two to three weeks after the last chance of frost, set out young jalapeno plants where they will receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
Pepper plants will grow happily in the garden or containers. They just need to be planted level with their root ball and will benefit from a light mulch like straw around the base.
For best production, water deeply especially during the hottest days of summer and fertilize every 2-4 weeks.
Supplies needed to grow jalapenos
✔️Jalapeno seeds: I love buying from Seeds Now
✔️Seed starting tray: I like trays with lids like this
✔️Seed starting mix: We use this seed starting medium
✔️Heat matt with thermometer: This one is similar to what we use
✔️Organic fertilizer: We’re big fans of Neptune’s Harvest
Pest and disease issues with jalapenos
Fortunately, jalapenos are not plagued by many pests or diseases. Usually, problems start later in the season when the bugs have already devoured all the other plants.
But you can see any of the usual garden pests like Colorado potato beetle, armyworms, hornworms, and aphids. Bt and spinosad applied sparingly and only as needed are my preferred organic pest control choices.
Grasshoppers are the worst to chew a hole right in your pepper. And peppers are susceptible to blossom end rot and sunscald just like tomatoes.
They can also be affected by bacterial, viral, and fungal diseases just like tomatoes.
In my experience growing jalapeno peppers, they have been quite resilient in the face of disease pressure and will continue to grow and produce quite well despite a few spots on their leaves.
When to pick jalapeno peppers
It takes about 90 days to grow jalapenos from seed to fruit. Harvest jalapenos when the fruit is firm and at a size you prefer.
The beauty of pepper plants is that they will continue to flower and fruit all summer. So don’t worry about picking your peppers too soon.
When deciding when to pick your peppers, remember this general rule:
A smaller, young pepper has a more immature (I call it green) flavor. A larger green pepper will have a nice balance of heat and a crisp fresh flavor.
As they turn red or brown, they get sweeter and hotter. Brown scars or lines are common, often desirable, and have no effect on taste.
To get more peppers, make sure to keep picking the peppers. Picking your peppers encourages the jalapeno plant to continue to make lots and lots of peppers.
You’ll get a larger harvest if you keep them well fed. An organic liquid fertilizer applied about one per month is beneficial.
Ways To Cook And Preserve Jalapenos
Eat them raw. We love eating raw jalapenos.
The flesh of a jalapeno has a unique sweet flavor that blends very nicely with the heat in a well-bred variety. On the Scoville scale, jalapenos generally fall within the 1000-10000 range, although there are varieties that are bred to have no heat at all.
Be careful when working with jalapenos. The capsaicin that gives it its spicy flavor will cause a burning sensation if you rub your eyes or other sensitive areas.
Even after you wash your hands very well, you can still burn your eyes. I’ve done it. More than once, unfortunately. It’s unpleasant. So it is generally recommended to use gloves to handle the seeds and inner parts of any hot pepper.
Stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon, is one of my favorite ways to eat a jalapeno. I use toothpicks and a muffin tin to prop the peppers up (or use a jalapeno popper tray) and bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bacon is crispy. Easy and delicious.
Roasted jalapenos are amazing! Roast them in the oven or on the grill, then stuff them, dice them, or whatever your heart desires.
Pickled Jalapenos Recipes
Here’s a step by step recipe for super easy pickled jalapenos.
Or make a homemade hot sauce with this recipe by Teri at Homestead Honey.
Sweet and spicy jalapenos recipes
Have you heard of cowboy candy? Check out this sweet and spicy recipe.
I adore jalapeno jelly. Check out this spicy jalapeno jelly recipe at Farm Fit Living.
How to freeze jalapenos
To freeze jalapenos, cut them in half and pull out seeds and whites. Lay them cut side down in a single layer on metal cookie sheet. Place them flat in freezer for at least an hour.
When they’re completely frozen, remove them and store them in plastic bags. Squeeze out all the air you can and put them back in the freezer.
You can also make a puree with fresh jalapenos and freeze them in an ice cube tray.
How to dehydrate jalapenos
Commercial dehydrators can cost a few hundred dollars, but you can also get dehydrators on Amazon for under $50.
Follow these directions for how to dry jalapeno peppers at Brown Thumb Mama.
You can also sub jalapenos for other hot peppers in recipes. Why not give it a shot with this recipe to make your own chili flakes from Liz at Eight Acres?
How To Save Seeds From Your Jalapeno Plant
To save seeds from your jalapeno plant, simply remove the seeds from peppers and lay them in a single layer on a paper towel or plate until they have dried out – about a week.
Store the seeds in a paper envelope in a cool dark place.
Do you love growing jalapenos?
Share your experience with us!
Laura, thanks for sharing my jelly post with your readers! There’s a lot of great ideas here! I only have 6 plants but I’m having trouble keeping up with preserving them. I’ve been sharing some with a friend – She uses them to make salsa and they also make poppers.
Thanks, Mindy! We love fresh salsa and poppers, too! 🙂
Girl! You are brave! I’m such a wimp! But my husband would love the ideas and recipes! I made a peach jalapeño jam a couple years ago! He loved it!
Yumm. Definitely a great combo!
I have gotten one pepper so far. The plant had lots of flowers but the rabbits ate them. I’ve taken care of the rabbits but will i get more flowers?? It’s been a couple weeks and not one has shown up!
Hi, Laura! Ugh! How frustrating! You should get more peppers. If it’s been really hot, they might have slowed down. Or you might want to give them some flower fertilizer. We like Fox Farm Big Bloom a lot.
Grilled jal with bacon wrapped stuffed w/ cream cheese