In recent years jalapeños have earned their spot at the top of one of the most recognized and used peppers in the U.S. With everything from jalapeño poppers to jalapeño ketchup, the green spicy pepper gets around a lot. What we don't hear as much about is the Fresno pepper. A pepper that could easily be considered a jalapeño and is often confused as a jalapeño because of its similar appearance and taste.
The Fresno can be sold and used when green and unripe for a milder kick, or it can be used when it is red and ripe and its hottest.
When the Fresno pepper is red and ripe it has a delicious smoky and almost fruity flavor that the jalapeno just doesn't have. The walls of the Fresno are not as thick as the jalapeño which makes using it for stuffed recipes like jalapeño poppers more difficult, although not impossible.
The Fresno pepper varies between 2,500-10,000 scollvile (SHU) which is similar to the jalapeño (3,500-8,000 SHU). Some Fresnos can pack a surprisingly spicy punch.
At Grand Traverse Sauce Company we love to experiment with different flavors and pairings, which led us to the Fresno pepper for our sauce, Kickstand. We wanted a spicy kick, that wouldn't over power a dish. We have found over the years that many hot sauces add heat but don't add flavor or help make a dish shine. We wanted Kickstand to be the sauce that could be used on everything, that would add heat and flavor and make any dish taste better.
Our sauce, Kickstand requires roasted ripe fresno peppers. Roasting the peppers brings out the natural sugars and draws out the natural smoky flavor that the Fresno has. The result is a smoky, spicy, balanced sauce that can be added to almost any dish.
If you are able to grab ripened Fresnos we suggest taking them home and experimenting with them in recipes you would normally use jalapeños or serranos for. You just may enjoy the smoky, spicy flavor and may not want to go back.