Sweet Bell peppers are some of the most commonly called for ingredients in recipes but, are, like your crazy Great-Aunt Thelma Sue, rarely discussed. At Restless Chipotle we've never been afraid to bring you the nekkid truth about the food you eat - read on for pepper FAQs, nutrition, storage, recipes, and more.
My favorite way to use them? In my mom's chili soup!
Looking for answers to your sweet pepper dilemma? Here are the most commonly asked questions -
Is there a difference between Bell peppers?
All of the colors come from the same type plant but different varieties and are in different stages of ripeness -- so the flavor is a little different, too.
Red is the sweetest, followed by orange, yellow, and finally – green. There are new varieties that ripen to other colors like purple and “chocolate” as well but they aren’t easy to find commercially.
Are Red and Green Bell peppers from the same variety?
Yes and no. Often they are but some green peppers never turn red. Other red Bell peppers are actually ripe green peppers so which you eat is a matter of preference.
Clear as mud?
Which is healthiest?
Red ones have the most nutritional value.
How can you tell the difference between male and female peppers?
Male peppers have 3 bumps and female have 4.
Which is sweeter, male or female?
The female peppers are better for eating raw because they tend to be sweeter.
Can you eat sweet Bell peppers raw?
Yes! You can eat them raw in salads or with a dip. They have a crisp texture. Choose the red or yellow ones for sweeter flavor.
Are they fruits?
Technically a fruit is the part of the plant that carries the seeds so yes, Bell peppers are a fruit.
Peppers have different amounts of vitamins and minerals depending on the stage of ripeness. So, green peppers have the least amount of nutrition (but still very nutritious!) and red peppers have the most.
Some of the information on Bell peppers was sourced at the USDA website.
Counts are average for the whole pepper.
The vitamin and mineral counts are different, too.
When are Bell peppers in season?
Sweet peppers are plentiful in the summer and fall months in most parts of the country - peak season is July through September, depending on where you live. Of course, they're available all year round in most grocery stores but may cost a bit more in the off seasons.
They will last for a week or two in the vegetable crisper in the refrigerator. For longer storage they should be frozen.
The best way to do this is to cut them into strips or dice them, remove the seeds, and flash freeze on a baking sheet. When they are frozen you can put them in a freezer container for up to 8 months.
You can also blanch them for longer storage but it's honestly not worth the extra time and trouble!
Here are some recipes from here on Restless Chipotle that make the most out of peppers!
How to use
This is one very versatile ingredients! Not only can you eat peppers raw but you can grill, roast, boil, fry, bake, saute... well you get the idea. Here are some more recipes with different cooking techniques.
- Mini Pepper Salad from Natasha's Kitchen is colorful and it can be made ahead of time.
- Red and Green Bell Pepper Bites are a quick, colorful appetizer from the American Heart Association.
- Or try slices of them with this Garlic and Herb Veggie Dip from The Chunky Chef.
- Grilled Peppers and Onions from Dad Cooks Dinner would be gone in a flash at my house. I'm thinking burgers, y'all.
- Grilled Sweet Potato and Pepper Toss from Cooking Light is quick and easy plus it has some great southwestern flavors going on!
- Grilled Peppers Stuffed with Cheese from Oh Sweet Basil look irresistible!
Grilling and roasting are NOT the same. Roasting is done for a longer period at a lower temperature.
- Easy Oven Roasted Bell Peppers from Happier Homemaker will get you started with the technique.
- Marinated Roasted Peppers from She Loves Biscotti is bound to be one of those things you want in your refrigerator ALL the time.
- And then there're these roasted Bell pepper tostadas from Pinch of Yum...
- Caramelized Onions and Peppers from Once Upon A Chef would be a perfect side to that steak you're planning on this weekend!
- Sauteed Summer Squash with Peppers and Onions from Barefeet in the Kitchen looks like the perfect summer side!
- Shrimp, Pepper, and Onion Skillet from Primavera Kitchen is a 15 minute meal!
Fire roasted (Video)
I originally did this video to show how to fire roast Hatch Chiles but the method is the same for Bell peppers, too.