Whether you call them ‘sweet peppers’ or ‘bell peppers,’ their bell-shaped glossy exterior comes in a wide array of stunning colours, holding a crunchy, sweet taste to make mouths water. Sweet peppers -are botanically related to hot chile pepper – resembling a larger sibling.
This vegetable’s exterior ranges in size from 2 to 5 inches in diameter, and 2 to 6 inches in length. Inside the thick flesh is a nearly hollow inner cavity with edible bitter seeds and a white spongy core of three or four lobes. Many welcome the fact that bell peppers are not ‘hot’. They contain a recessive gene that eliminates hot capsaicin ingredient.
Peppers are part of the nightshade family – harvested when green and eventually ripen into red, yellow, orange, and even purple! Green Bell Peppers have a stronger flavour while the mature colourful selection is sweeter.
HOW TO CHOOSE
Sweet peppers are available throughout the year but more local varieties are available in July, August, and September.
When selecting, choose those with bright, shiny, even coloured smooth skins that are not blemished or bruised. Avoid peppers with shrivelled skins. In addition, the riper the pepper is when harvested, the less time it will maintain its freshness.
They may be stored, unwashed, for at least a week if placed in a plastic bag and kept in the refrigerator.
Like chile peppers, you can freeze bell peppers as well: Wash peppers; cut out stems, white inner membrane and remove seeds. Halve or slice & briefly set aside to completely dry.
- Blanched Although it is not necessary, blanching makes packing easier. Think about your plans; if using the peppers in raw dishes, don’t blanch. Just in case, here are some blanching instructions: Set in boiling water. Boil slices for 2 minutes, halves for 3 minutes. Cool immediately and drain. Freeze on a cookie sheet first – leaving ½” of headspace. Once frozen you can package in a sealed freezer container.
- Raw To package, use a sealed freezer container or bag. No headspace required for raw peppers.
Bell peppers are eaten raw or cooked as a sweet addition to any meal or snack.
Quick & Easy Serving Suggestions
- Salads, savory dishes, or eaten on their own
- Mix orange peppers with red and yellow for a confetti of color and add to a salmon salad
- Stuffed with rice, ground meat & other vegetables. Another name for a stuffed bell pepper is a ‘purse’. Other ‘stuffing’ ingredients are herbs, cream cheese, and capers
- Sautéed, steamed, stuffed, pickled, in relishes
- Roasted in an oven or charred directly over a fire for added flavour
- Mediterranean Bake Toss boneless chicken thighs, halved new potatoes, chopped peppers and zucchini with sun-dried tomato salad dressing. Bake at 4250F for approx. 35 min. Sprinkle with feta
- Added to crudités platters, soups (you can make an entire soup around them or just add them for flavour), stir fries, sandwiches, omelets, wraps, and made into a sauce or dip
- Yellow Peppers have a distinctive colour and are even more festive when partnered with red peppers. A soup with these peppers creates a rich and wonderfully unique meal.
Mature peppers have more nutritional value:
Green Peppers Green vegetables help lower risk of some cancers, good for vision health, and
strong bones and teeth.
Orange Peppers can be grouped with the yellow in improving your chance for a healthy heart, vision health, immune system, and a lower risk of some cancers.
Red Peppers are actually mature peppers (they start out green) and increasingly gain more vitamin C as they become red.
Yellow Peppers are high in vitamin C and contain the antioxidant beta-carotene – hence their yellow glow – as well as B6.
Peppers, 1 cup (sweet, green, raw)
Total Fat: 0.24g
*Excellent source of: Vitamin C (133mg), and Vitamin A (942 IU)
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.
- The sweet pepper first became fashionable in Spain, named it “pimientos” to describe the red pepper’s coloration and sweet taste.
- There are many varieties of sweet peppers, some of which have a sweet but bitter taste. There are bell, bull horns, cachucha, cubanelle, European sweet, pimento, and sweet banana. The different varieties vary in size, shape, thickness, and colour. The most commonly harvested colour is green and red when allowed to fully ripen. Some other familiar maturity colours are ivory, yellow, orange, purple and brown but the majority turn red when allowed to ripen.
- A pepper has the strongest taste when considered mature, but not fully ripe.