Have you ever seen a Jalapeno with little brown or white lines in it? Whether you are growing your own or picking some up at a local market, the answer is probably yes. Is there something wrong with that pepper? Absolutely not!
What is corking?
Plain and simple, corking is when the inside of the pepper is growing faster than the outside, creating a cracked, cork-like texture on the skin. It is also referred to as cracking, checking, scaring, or even stretch marks.
While corking is most popular amongst Jalapenos, it can happen to just about any hot pepper. I’ve grown Jalapenos, Scotch Bonnets, and Habaneros that have all had corked skin. It is usually induced by excess watering, nutrients, and sun during the pod development stages.
What’s different about corked peppers?
Aside from the obvious, corked peppers are said to be sweeter, and significantly hotter. While some swear by it, I’ve read elsewhere that this is a myth, and it has no effect on the Capsaicin content or flavor.
In American markets, pepper corking is seen as a blemish, and this makes total sense. Without knowing what it is, would you eat anything that had ugly brown lines all over it? Probably not. However, it is said that in Mexico, South, and Central America, corking is a sign of quality, usually fetching higher prices at local markets.
Is corking a sign of maturity?
Not all of the time, but this is usually true. Of the Jalapenos I’ve grown, I’ve had numerous juvenile green peppers show significant signs of corking before they reach their red mature hue. It is definitely a good indicator of harvest time.
Get your cork on!
Hopefully any of you reading this aren’t beating yourself up because you threw out last years harvest due to corking. If you have a friend that is throwing some out, tell em’ you’ll take those “blemished peppers” off their hands.
I hope you learned something and enjoyed the read! If you have grown any corked peppers, let us know if they seemed hotter or sweeter to you in the comments below!
Photo credit: Kiwithing / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND