The demand for hot sauce products continues to expand in the U.S. In the case of jalapeno pepper sauce, there are many cultivars available for sauce production but those best suited for processing have not been adequately determined. Six cultivars (four replications) of jalapeno peppers (`Coyame', `Grande', `Jalapeno-M', `Mitla', `Tula' and `Veracruz') were evaluated for mash fermentation. The attributes studied during mash aging were color spectra, capsaicin content and fermentable sugars. Fructose and glucose were the predominant sugars in jalapeno peppers and these sugars were utilized gradually with time indicating slow fermentation by microorganisms in the 15% salt mash. Capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin were the predominant capsaicinoids in the jalapeno peppers with `Tula' containing the greatest concentration and `Veracruz' the least. All mashes displayed an apparent and unexpected rise in measurable capsaicinoids up to 6 months with a decline at 12 months. Color changes in the pepper mash were rapid initially but slowed after the first month of fermentation. Percent reflectance in fresh ground peppers was strongest in the range of 550–560 nm but, after salting, reflectance shifted to 580–590 nm and remained throughout the fermentation. Based on the characteristics tested, any of these cultivars would make a suitable mash for sauce. The heat content of the final product could be controlled by cultivar selection or through blending.