Are Jalapenos Spicy If You Remove The Seeds?

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 06/14/21 •  4 min read

Are Jalapenos Spicy If You Remove The Seeds? You will often hear people say that if you remove the seeds from a Jalapenos it will make it less spicy. Is that really the case or is it an old wives tale?

Jalapenos and other chillies will remain spicy even if the seeds are removed. It is a common misconception that seeds are the hottest part of the chilli, they in fact have a very low concentration of the chemical that causes the heat. To reduce the heat of a chilli it is necessary to scrape out all the central pith/placenta leaving only the outer wall of the chilli.

Treating the Jalapeno in this way will reduce the heat by around 90% in most cases according to academic studies that are discussed later in this article.

Why Are Chillies Hot?

Chillies are hot because they contain a family of chemicals called capsaicinoids which are an irritant for all mammals that creates a hot sensation when eaten. While there are several different compounds the main active ingredient is a chemical called Capsaicin.

The perceived heat of a Chilli increases with the concentration of capsaicinoids in the fruit but the extent of the heat is measured using the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU). The scale was originally based on how many parts of sugar water it took to neutralize the heat of the Chilli. This method was later replaced with analytical testing which found that 16 parts per million of Capsaicin (mg per kg), equals 1 SHU.

Jalapenos are considered a moderately hot chilli that typically has a SHU reading of between 2,500 and 10,000. There are many other varieties that are considerably hotter. To read more about all the different types of chilli peppers click here.

HeatScoville Heat Unit
Extemely HotAbove 80,000
Very Hot25,000 to 70,000
Moderately Hot3,000 to 25,000
Mildly Hot700 to 3,000
Non Pungent0 to 700

What Is The Hottest Part Of A Pepper/Chilli?

A 2006 academic study in Mexico looked at the level of Capsaicin in different parts of several different chillies and found that the placenta of the chilli was by far the hottest part of the chilli. In the Chawa, and Habanero chillies the study found that the placenta was hotter by a factor of between 10 and 30 times than the pericarp or seeds of the chilli. In the case of Sukurre chilli, the placenta was the only place where Capsaicin was detected.

The pericarp refers to the outer shell or layer of the chilli and the placenta refers to the central section of the chilli on which the seeds reside. See image below.

The results from that study are summarized in the table below for your reference.

Type Of ChilliPericarp Capsaicin Content (mg/kg)Placenta Capsaicin Content (mg/kg) Seed Capsaicin Content (mg/kg)
Chawa (unripe)22011,698897
Chawa (ripe)2225,6890
Habanero Orange3,91462,8862,280
Habanero White2,59229,4833,195
Sukurre (unripe)026,9450
Sukurre (ripe)018,9950

How To Handle Peppers Safely

To avoid having any issues in the kitchen it is important to treat the Hot Peppers with respect as they can potentially cause issues if you are not careful, particularly when you are handling a lot of them or they are very hot.

The biggest risk is that the Capsaicin from the peppers can transfer onto your hands and then be rubbed your eyes. This can be extremely painful because this is the same chemical that is used in Capsicum spray.

To avoid any potential for this to occur it is safest to wear rubber gloves when handling the peppers. In cases where you are handling hot peppers over an extended period of time, it is advisable to change the gloves periodically, every half an hour or so.

The reason for this is that the chemical can leach through the glove over time and get onto your skin. I have personally had this happen when processing several pounds of Jalapenos for pickling. This ability of the Capsaicin to leach through gloves is because the chemical is oil soluble which means it can penetrate through other things that are also oil-soluble such as latex gloves.

If the pepper does come into contact with your hands it is advisable to wash your hands repeatedly with soap. Washing only with water will not work due to the solubility of the chemical. This property is also the reason why drinking water does not help when you are trying to reduce the heat in your mouth after eating one too many chillies.

Paul Smart