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What Is a Banana Pepper?

Cayenne peppers can be used whole or as flakes in spicy dishes.
Banana peppers can be diced and added to a robust tomato salsa.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 13 August 2014
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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.

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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.

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Discuss this Article

visionary
Post 2

@artlover--Banana peppers like a pretty consistent warm soil. If you have a short growing period I would start my plants indoors about forty to sixty days before I get ready to plant in my garden.

You need to make sure it does not get below sixty degrees at night. Depending on where you are, the summer weather is probably warm enough. I had to plant in containers that I brought inside when we had an occasional cold night.

The bananas also like their fertilized dirt damp not soaked. Have fun and enjoy!

artlover
Post 1

I am glad that there are so many things you can do with banana peppers. My husband really likes them and wants to grow them this summer. The article says they should have access to full sun for at least half of the day.

Does anyone know what temperature climate they grow best in? How about length of season? We live in a climate that has a pretty short growing season.

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