What is Chipotle Chili Powder? 3 Frequently Asked Questions

Question #1 - Is Jalapeño the Same as Chipotle?

chipotle-chili-powder

Yes and No. Yes, chipotle chili peppers and spice powder come from the jalapeño Capsicum annum species, but they are very different than the green jalapeños most are familiar with.

List of Differences Between Jalapeño Vs Chipotle

  1. Chipotle is not made from unripe green jalapeños but from red ripe ones.
  2. All chipotle goes through a wood smoking process which gives it a smoked and earthy flavor profile.
  3. Chipotle is a dried pepper. Jalapeño is typically available as a fresh pepper that is sometimes canned and/or pickled.
  4. Whole chipotle is prune-like with a dark burgundy to purple-black color. When ground, chipotle chili powder is a red-brown to firey red-orange color. Jalapeño is green smooth and fleshy.
  5. Chipotle is from red ripe jalapeños and thus slightly sweeter and much spicier than green jalapeño peppers.
  6. Jalapeño is utilized more as a "spice vegetable". Chipotle is more of a seasoning.
  7. Nutrition-wise, fresh green or red ripe jalapeños are higher in nutrients than smoked chipotle chili powder and peppers. However, in some research the smoking process was interestingly found to increase antioxidant capacity, especially when using specific firewoods like pecan.
what-is-chipotle

Question #2 - How HOT is Chipotle Chili Powder?

Chipotle is much spicier than jalapeño, but not because it's smoked. At their peak of ripeness, red ripe jalapeño chilis and seeds are at the highest level of capsaicin content. This is the main capsaicinoid compound that the "Scoville scale" measures to determine overall spiciness or "heat units". Thus, expect chipotle to be much hotter than unripe green jalapeño.

From our experience, they do not share the same heat level as many online sources indicate. If you've ever tasted a fresh jalapeño and dried chipotle side by side the heat differences are quite evident. So, although chipotle is often lumped together with green jalapeno pepper with a Scoville heat unit rating of 2,500-8,000, this is far from accurate in our opinion.

It takes about ten pounds of fresh jalapeño to yield about one pound of dried chipotle peppers after smoking. Chipotle is, therefore, more concentrated in capsaicin and closer to cayenne in heat units.

Standard chipotle heat rating is 5,000-10,000 but other sources we came across give it a much higher heat score of 15,000-30,000. Cayenne ranges between 25,000-50,000. Both of these are considered medium heat levels compared to other hot chili pepper varieties.

Capsaicin is a circulatory stimulant and has been shown in some research to support vascular and metabolic functions. So, chipotle can offer greater advantages than jalapeño in this regard.

Hot peppers like chipotle are also employed for their folk uses as diaphoretic (sweat-inducing) and antiparasitic agents.

Question #3 - Are There Different Types of Chipotle?

The two main chipotle chili peppers that come from ripe jalapeños are Morita and Meco. They differ in quality because they go through different smoke-drying processes. These are techniques historically traced back to early Mesoamerica and food preservation methods.

Morita is smoked for a lesser amount of time than Meco. Originating from northern Mexico, Morita is the common variety available worldwide. Smoked Morita chipotle has a dark red-brown to purple-black color with a slightly tangier fruity-sweet flavor than Meco.

Meco chipotle is the traditional chipotle of choice used by those native to central and southern Mexico. These dried peppers have a tan to brown color and a much smokier taste.

They are used mostly as a whole dried pepper rather than a ground spice.

chipotle-morita-and-meco

Question #4 - How Do You Use Chipotle Chili Powder and Peppers?

While many fresh chili pepper varieties are often used as a type of spicy vegetable, chipotle is mostly employed as a spice seasoning to flavor recipes.

It is utilized in different ways depending on where you live.

Chipotle Chili Pepper Use in Mexico

In Mexican cuisine, the jalapeño and chipotle are often at the heart of many Mexican foods. Both are considered to have a mild spiciness compared to other hot chili peppers. They are mostly used for their taste, not heat intensity.

Frequently, the whole dried chipotle peppers are stewed as a seasoning in many cultural foods like when making moles or the classic chipotle adobo or "chipotles en adobo". This is a type of tomato-based marinade sauce added to many Mexican dishes. It is prepared homemade-style or frequently found canned.

Chipotle, like other chilis, has been used for centuries with cacao or raw chocolate in both sweet and savory recipes.

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Chipotle Chili Pepper Use in American Food

Chipotle as a culinary spice is a fast-growing favorite in non-Mexican households across the globe due to the delicious smoky-sweet spicy flavor it imparts to recipes. The ground powder is now a kitchen spice rack staple often found sitting next to cayenne and chili powder.

It is used as a meat rub, taco seasoning, or as a spice for salsa, guacamole, nachos, chili, buffalo cauliflower and barbecue sauce. Chipotle powder can be sprinkled onto foods like avocado toast, eggs, baked potatoes, pizza or even popcorn.

It’s used in numerous Mexican-inspired American Southwestern or Tex-Mex dishes. If you're into dehydrated snacks and condiments like we are, it adds a smokiness to recipes like our coconut bacon bits or chipotle honey almonds.

Organic Morita chipotle chili powder is widely available. Mountain Rose Herbs is of course one of our personal favorite suppliers for high-quality ground powder.

Whole chipotle Morita and Meco varieties are available online and in specialty stores. They are great for making chipotle olive oil infusions which can be kept on hand for recipes.

Precautions:

Excessive use of chipotle chili powder may cause gastrointestinal irritation. We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before adding chipotle to the diet if you are pregnant, nursing, have a serious health condition or are taking any medications.

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