Anyone admiring a long, slightly curved, two to three inch (5.08-7.62 cm) pepper in a garden that could be yellow, orange or red, might be looking at a banana pepper. These peppers are often also called Hungarian wax peppers and some may refer to them as pepperoncini. Actually the banana pepper is different than either of these varieties, though all the peppers just mentioned belong to the same species, Capsicum annum.
Taste of the banana pepper is a subject of much dispute. Some claim true banana peppers have no heat, and are especially good to eat when they are ripe. Ripeness is determined by color. If the pepper is yellow, it may be fully ripe, but some are also red or orange and this indicates ripeness too. If people are concerned about potential heat of the pepper, they can address this. Removing the seeds takes away most of the heat. Some argue that the reason the banana pepper is classed as hot is because it’s often mixed, especially for sale in grocery stores, with Hungarian wax peppers, which may have more heat and lack some of the banana pepper’s sweetness.
Plenty of recipes exist that include the banana pepper. The true variant of this chili pepper can be sliced into salads, or made into delicious salsa. However, if little heat is present, other peppers could be added to provide that needed kick. Sliced banana peppers also make a crunchy addition to plenty of sandwiches. One thing many people recommend is pickling the peppers, much like pepperoncini is treated. While pickled banana peppers are not as spicy, they can retain excellent crunch and form a very special addition to sandwiches or salads.
A number of other recipes exist that can be tried. Suggestions include stuffing the peppers, which won’t require much stuffing since they are narrow. Deep-frying appears to be a popular cooking suggestion. Some people use these peppers in Asian foods, though they were more popular as exports to Europe, and cooks might replace hotter peppers with banana pepper in various stir-fried meals.
It makes very good sense to add banana pepper recipes to a cooking repertoire. Approximately half a cup (124 g) is loaded with vitamin C, providing 171% of the US recommended daily allowance (RDA) of this vitamin. This same size serving is also a good source of dietary fiber, meeting almost 20% of the RDA for fiber. Calories are extremely low, and the half-cup serving contains only 33 calories.
Lots of people aren’t satisfied with picking up these peppers in store and prefer to grow their own. Banana peppers will grow well in a number of climates. Principally, it requires full sun for at least part of the day. Size of the plants can be about one to two feet tall (30.48-60.96 cm), and they are extremely productive. Fortunately, there are directions on many websites for freezing the peppers for later use; they’ll last about a year in a freezer. Pickling and canning them can extend their lives more.