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Crisp, juicy sweet peppers are a favorite food of many people. A botanical fruit, peppers are prepared as vegetable dishes, and can be used in most styles of cooking. Also known as bell peppers, sweet peppers can be used in salads, sandwiches, stews, and many other dishes.
Sweet, mild peppers can add a zesty flavor to nearly any meal. Stuffed peppers filled with rice, ground beef, seasonings, and tomato sauce are a favorite Southern comfort food in the United States. Peppers can be stewed, grilled, broiled, roasted, baked, sautéed, or even served raw as a snack. The colorful, bouncy peppers can also visually enhance a meal.
A rich source of antioxidants, sweet peppers are filled with vitamins C and A. Red peppers tend to contain more of these nutrients than other colors. One cup (230 grams) of fresh, chopped sweet peppers contains 30 calories, trace amounts of fat, three grams (a tenth of one ounce) of fiber, one gram (.04 ounces) of protein, and no cholesterol. Peppers are also a good source of potassium.
Bold red, orange, and yellow sweet peppers are usually readily available in supermarkets. They may also be present in other colors, such as white, purple, pink, brown, and most commonly, green. When choosing a bell pepper, be sure that the skin is healthy and firm, devoid of wrinkles. The peppers themselves should be heavy, with vibrant green stems and no broken skin or indentations.
Peppers work well with dozens of different ingredients. Paprika, olive oil, and tomatoes are some favorite dressings used for peppers. Vegetables such as corn, onions, and chilies work well with sweet peppers. Many cooks like to use bell peppers with meat dishes, such as chicken, beef, or anchovies. Other common pepper flavorings include vinegar, basil, lemon, coriander, and garlic.
When substituting for different types of peppers in recipes, it is important to note that a tablespoon (14 grams) of dried bell pepper is the equivalent of three tablespoons (43 grams) of fresh, chopped pepper. The cachucha pepper, cubanelle, Holland, and other sweet varieties of pepper can be substituted for bell peppers. Flavors from substitutions, however, can result in a variance from the mild taste of the sweet pepper.
Bell peppers will keep fresh for up to a week if stored within the refrigerator. Peppers should be stored unwashed, and washed prior to use. Other names the bell pepper may be called include capsicum, Bulgarian pepper, chile dulce, pepper-fruit, paprika, mangoed peppers, or mango. The pepper may also be identified by its color, such as green pepper or red pepper.
I grow green bell peppers in my garden each year, and I have found that the longer you wait to pick them, the sweeter their flavor. If you take them off the plants when they are too small, they seem to have a slightly bitter taste.
If you like sweet peppers, you should try the orange-colored variety. These brightly-colored bell peppers seem to have a sweeter flavor than the red, yellow, and even green varieties. They are great in dishes that are complimented with just a little bit of sweetness, such as tacos or pasta salads. Orange sweet peppers are also good for people who enjoy healthy snacking, and they taste great with any type of vegetable dip.
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