The Serrano pepper is one of the most popular hot peppers. You can find them in grocery stores alongside jalapenos and habanero peppers. Serrano is thin and crisp and is usually sold unripe green.
In this article you will find a lot of information about the Serrano peppers you are looking for. This includes information on the origin of the peppers, the flavor profile, the heat rating, how to grow peppers from seed and much more.
Scoville Scale: 10,000-20,000 SHUDiameter:
: rare seeds
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Serrano pepper Origin
The Serrano pepper has its historical origins in the mountainous regions of Puebla and Hidalgo, Mexico. The word Serrano is translated as “mountaineer” or “from the mountains.”
Over the years, local growers have perfected their selection of desirable bell pepper varieties. There are several other popular varieties in Mexico, most of which are derived from the Capsicum annuum variety.
To date, Mexico is the largest producer of serranos in the world. More than 35,000 hectares of land are used for cultivation, and most of the harvest is used fresh and unprocessed.
Serrano vs. jalapeño peppers
Jalapeño peppers are very similar to serrano peppers. This makes sense, since they both come from the same species, C. annuum. They also both come from Mexico.
- Serranos are thin, chili peppers are thicker.
- Serranos is sharper
- Jalapenos have a thicker skin and flesh.
- The same kind of Capsicum
Serranos (left) versus jalapenos (right).
As you can see, the two types of peppers are very similar. In terms of flavor, they are both a little vegetal and a little smoky. Both have a good crunch when eaten fresh or marinated. They are also great substitutes for each other in the kitchen!
For more information on jalapenos and serrano peppers, click here.
Serrano pepper Scoville Scale (degree of spiciness)
Serrano peppers may be smaller than jalapenos, but that doesn’t make them any less spicy. In fact, serranos are much hotter than their closest relatives!
Simply put, Serrano peppers have 10,000-20,000 SHU on the Scoville scale. This puts them between jalapenos and cayenne peppers in terms of spiciness. For many, serranos offer the ideal degree of spiciness without overdoing it.
With this spicy flavor, serranos are perfect for adding to fresh salsas, homemade French fries, pickled vegetables or any other spicy dish. We also use them with great success in homemade hot sauce for the perfect level of heat (and flavor).
Serrano Pepper Flavor
If you know what jalapenos taste like, you have an idea what serranos taste like. It is a vegetable, similar to green bell bell pepper, with a slight sweetness. It also has a natural smoky flavor, sweet but very pleasant.
The crunchy and crispy texture of green serranos is ideal for cooking with. They are most often used in salsa and guacamole, but also taste great marinated with carrots and onions. They are commonly referred to as “serrenos en escabeche.”
Cultivation of Serrano peppers
Because serranos have become so popular, many of the newest hybrid varieties are excellent hardy plants. This means you can easily grow your own Serrano plants from seed in your garden.
We kept the serrano seeds from store-bought peppers and grew them in our garden. Commercial varieties are usually the most robust and disease resistant, so I highly recommend trying them for yourself!
See our growing recommendations here.
The plants are generally small and bushy, with high productivity and a relatively short maturation period. The leaves are small to medium sized, lightly hairy with trichomes. The entire foliage is quite dense and compact.
Serrano growing from seeds (like) :
- Prepare the starter mixture. We recommend using a nutrient-free starter mixture for indoor seeding. It is excellent for aeration and healthy root development. Moisten the mixture in advance and pack it into the seed pods before planting.
- Sow the seeds and allow them to germinate. Plant the seeds 1/4″ deep and moisten them well. Cover the seeds with a moisture dome and keep them warm to begin germination. Germination is best at 80-90°F. We use a heating mat for the seeds and achieve a germination rate of almost 100%! Find out when to plant pepper seeds, depending on your location.
- Make sure there is enough light. Give your pepper seedlings a good start by providing plenty of light. We prefer LED grow lights, and here are some recommended options if you are in the market. After 2-3 weeks of growth, apply a small amount of fertilizer (1/4-1/2 strength).
- Transplanting. After 3-4 weeks of growth, the plants can be transplanted into larger pots. We usually transplant the plants into 3-inch pots before moving them to the final planting site. A standard flower mixture with processed nutrients can be used at this stage.
- Get out. As soon as the last frost date is reached, you can bring your Serrano plants outside. Be sure to slowly acclimate your plants to direct sunlight and let them harden off gradually. Don’t rush this process, or you risk sunburn or growth impairment.
- Fertilize and water regularly. Young peppers need plenty of nitrogen to produce healthy leaves and stems. It can be provided by compost (ideally) or natural fertilizer. Do not over water – this can have a negative effect on the growth of the plant.
- Harvest. Once the plants are established outside, they begin to produce flowers and peppers. Do not give too much nitrogen at this time to give the flowers a chance to develop. Once the peppers are fully ripe, they can be harvested. Serranos are usually harvested green, but you can also let them ripen until they are bright red, giving them a sweeter, slightly spicier flavor.
For more information on growing peppers, see our article on growing peppers here.
How long before harvest
Most Serrano plants produce ripe pods within 70-80 days of transplanting outside. By comparison, some super hot peppers take 120 days or more to mature.
Green serrano peppers.
Why did the Serranos blush?
Although store-bought serranos are almost always deep green, they are not truly ripe until they turn red. Serranos, like jalapenos and peppers, turn red as they ripen.
The reason is quite natural: all ripe peppers change color! Most peppers start out light green, then turn to deeper green and finally reach a ripe color. Most peppers turn red, some yellow, mustard, brown, orange and even purple!
Ripe red serrano pepper.
Red serranos are hotter?
Red serranos are sweeter and slightly less crunchy than green serranos, and can sometimes be slightly spicier. The color is not related to the degree of spiciness, but to the age of the pepper.
In short, serranos tend to be hotter when they are fully ripe and turn red. The older and riper the pepper is, the greater the substance responsible for its warming.
Capsaicin is responsible for the feeling of heat in peppers and is continually produced as the peppers ripen on the plant. Therefore, older ripe peppers that have turned red are likely to be hotter than under a ripe pod.
Serrano pepper seeds storage
It’s easy to save pepper seeds, and it’s a great way to save a few bucks. Every year we save the seeds of our favorite pepper varieties. Here’s how:
- Choose ripe peppers. Save the pepper seeds that you think are perfect. This may mean bigger, spicier, tastier peppers, etc. Always pick a ripe serrano (if possible, let it turn red before picking). This will ensure that the seeds are fully ripe and develop.
- Slice the bottom of the peppers. Most of the seeds are on the stem of the pod. Slice the other side to make room for the seeds to fall out.
- Roll the peppers to remove the seeds. Massage and roll the peppers to loosen the seeds and drain on a smooth surface.
- Dry the seeds. Leave the seeds in a single layer on a paper or ceramic plate for 5 to 7 days. The drying time depends on the humidity. Point a small fan at the seeds to speed up the process.
- Store the seeds. When the seeds are dry, store them in a paper envelope or small plastic bag. For storage in an airtight container, I recommend using bags with a desiccant to remove excess moisture.
Seeds can be stored for years if stored properly. Keep them dry, away from direct light and cool. We keep most of our seeds in the refrigerator.
Serrano pepper substitute
If a recipe calls for serrano and you don’t have it, you still have options. Here are some ideas for substituting serrano in the kitchen.
- Jalapeño. A close relative with a little less heat – perfect for salsa, guacamole or pico de gallo. Also great if you’re making roasts or anything else that needs a crisp pepper crust.
- The paprika. If you want texture but no spice, use paprika or something similar. Poblanos also have a similar flavor, sweeter and spicier than serrano.
- Cayenne powder. If all you need is heat, use cayenne powder. Just a pinch or two can add a lot of heat to your cooking, so start small! Use both paprika and cayenne pepper for similar heat and texture.
For more information on Serranes alternatives, click here.
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I hope this article has helped you learn more about the incredible Serrano pepper. We love growing this versatile pepper in our garden every year. Good luck and good growth!
One of the original ones! When Calvin is not gardening or learning about peppers and botany, he is traveling to new places or making music.
Frequently asked questions
Are red serranos warmer than green ones?
On the Scoville scale, serrano peppers have between 10,000 and 20,000 SHU. The serrano is by no means the hottest pepper on earth (the Carolina Reaper leads with 1,400,000 SHU), but serrano peppers are still a hot pepper … The unripe green serrano also has a milder flavor than the ripe red serrano.
Which pepper has the highest Scoville units?
Habanero peppers have a maximum production capacity of 350,000 Scoville. Carolina Reaper holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s hottest pepper, with 1.4 to 2.2 million Scoville. Dragon’s breath is said to be even hotter, with up to 2.4 million Scoville.
Why do the Serranos blush?
So yes, the peppers get warmer as they ripen (i.e. they turn from green to red) Late ….harvest When fully ripe after 60-70 days, serrano peppers turn from green to red. Some varieties have purple, orange, yellow or brown tones, but most go from green to red.
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