July 28, 2021
When I make stir fry or pasta salad, I like to use different types of sweet peppers to add color to the dish. The problem is the red, yellow, and orange peppers are usually about a dollar more per pound than the green peppers. I used to buy them anyway, but when Melissa and I started shopping together she would comment on how much I was paying just for the color. Honestly, the varieties of store peppers never tasted any different and I knew she was right. This year I resolved the issue by growing my own red, orange, and green peppers, along with the jalapeno and poblano. I got all of them in the ground late because of cold weather, but the heat we are getting has begun to make them produce.
When I looked online, I found that sweet peppers and chilies are both derived from the same species, Capsicum annuum. The pepper plant is a member of the Solanaceae or “nightshade” family, which also includes tomatoes and potatoes. It is originally from South and Central America and was introduced into Europe for the first time at the beginning of the 16th century. Botanically, peppers are a fruit of the Capsicum plant, but in the culinary world people recognize peppers as a vegetable. There are nearly 2,000 varieties of peppers cultivated worldwide. These are generally grouped into two categories: the hot (chili) peppers and the sweet peppers. The various forms of peppers are the most widely used condiment all over the world. It is consumed fresh, dried, or processed. I admit, I like them all in all three different forms.
The sweet peppers I decided on last spring were the Green Bonny Bell, the Orange Bell, and the Red Bell varieties. When I purchase peppers from the market, I have noticed there is a difference in both the sweetness and the number of seeds. What I found was that while the male pepper contains much fewer seeds than its female counterpart, the female pepper is sweeter. You can recognize the difference between pepper sexes by the bumps on the bottom. The male variant has three bumps, and the female has four. I have always gravitated toward female peppers, especially when I make stuffed peppers. The four bumps are larger (more stuffing) and sit upright better in the pan. Now that I know they are also sweeter, I will try to only buy female peppers. I get rid of the seeds regardless.
Thoughts: One of the maladies of the early mariners was scurvy, which was caused by a lack of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Current researchers have discovered that high consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits also have a link to minimized chances for various types of cancer. Research has shown that increased consumption of vitamin C rich foods like sweet pepper is related to a reduced chance of cancers of the lungs, mouth, vocal cords, throat, colon, rectum, stomach, and esophagus. Sweet pepper has 119.8 mg of Vitamin C, or 133.11% of the daily recommended value. Researchers are constantly finding new cures for old (and new!) diseases. Just because this is a new discovery, does not mean it is experimental. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.