Jalapeño study to benefit NM growers


LAS CRUCES (KRQE) – New Mexico is famous for its green chile. Now, the Chile Pepper Institute in Las Cruces is working to come up with the perfect New Mexico jalapeño flavor.

The sight, smells and flavor of green chile is associated with New Mexican pride. But locals may be surprised to know which pepper is more popular across the country.

“Nationwide, jalapeños do sell more,” explained Paul Bosland, Director of the Chile Pepper Institute, and Horticulture Professor at New Mexico State University.

Bosland and his students are working on a study that could make the state’s jalapeños a hot commodity.

“Our mission is to help our New Mexico chile growers be competitive,” said Bosland. Bosland explained it’s all about the science behind the spicy product.

“It’s not only jalapeños, but all chiles,” Bosland told KRQE News 13. “There’s a trend with fruits and vegetables to be more flavorful and more tasty.”

“I always like to use the analogy of wine,” Bosland explained. “We know the flavor components that make a merlot versus a cabernet, and what we’d like to know, well what are those flavor compounds in chiles?”

Jalapeños are a key ingredient for lots of fan favorites. They’re in salsa, guacamole and serve as popular side items for ballpark snacks nationwide.

“We look for them to be still crisp and hot,” said Salley Gurley. Local shoppers told News 13 it’s tough to know the taste of jalapeños without biting in.

It’s a problem New Mexico State University’s study hopes to solve.

“It’ll tell us what compounds are in a flavorful jalapeño, and so we’ll have kind of chemical markers to know if the chile has good flavor or not,” Bosland explained.

The Chile Pepper Institute plans on pegging a New Mexican flavor for jalapeños.

“I think that would be a wonderful thing to have to know what they’re really going to taste like,” said Bob Tillotson. Several customers agree, consistency in jalapeño flavor would be appealing while shopping.

News 13 asked local shoppers whether they believe jalapeños could become the state’s new point of pride. ”

New Mexico is the king of chile, so I don’t see why not,” said Ross Slotten.

“I think it would take a lot of marketing though,” said Gurley.

The Chile Pepper Institute hopes to complete the study for jalapeño flavor by next year. According to Fiery Foods, Mexico dominates the jalapeño market, while Texas is the biggest jalapeño producer in the United States.

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