The cherry pepper is a small, sweet, and mild to medium pepper that derives its name from its shape and appearance. When fully ripe cherry peppers are a luscious bright red, delightfully round and about the size of a cherry tomato. Most cherry peppers are no more than an inch to two inches (2.54-5.08 cm) in diameter. You may find the cherry pepper labeled as the Hungarian cherry pepper, since they are popular in Hungarian dishes.
Cherry peppers are an ideal size for pickling or brining, and they also make for an excellent garnish on a dish. They shouldn’t be thought of as merely good for pickling or for decoration, since they are quite tasty. While pickling is certainly a viable way to treat cherry peppers, consider slicing them in halves for green or pasta salads. You can use either pickled or fresh peppers for this purpose. They’re also excellent added to three bean salads, on top of pizza, or in sweet and sour dishes.
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A popular trend with cherry peppers is to make deep-fried poppers. These are normally peppers that have been filled with cheese, coated and fried and you can simply pop them in the mouth. Filling the cherry pepper is easily accomplished if you remove the stem. Alternately, you can stuff or fill them by slicing them in half.
If you’d like to reduce the fat content of your pepper dishes, instead of deep-frying, consider halving cherry peppers and filling them with a little cheese and bread crumbs, and then baking them. These bright little gems inspire a host of stuffed or filled recipes, and are the perfect size for an amuse bouche or appetizer. They can also be diced as part of a fresh salsa or form an interesting contrast to tomatillos, which are about the same size and are used in most salsa verde recipes.
You’ll occasionally find green cherry peppers, which means they have been picked before they were fully ripened. Some find these delicious, and others feel they don’t capture the sweetness of the red cherry pepper. Further, heat of the cherry pepper is going to vary, and it’s a good idea to taste your peppers to see is you’ve purchased medium or mild ones. If the pepper tastes too hot for the dish you plan, removing the seeds normally reduces the heat.
Cherry peppers remain some of the most popular peppers to grow at home, since they don’t require a large space. They do need full sun, and should definitely not be planted until after the last frost of the year. Frost can kill young seedlings quite easily. Although it’s rare, different species of peppers can be cross-pollinated by bees. If you’re hoping for fairly mild peppers, make sure to not plant them next to any hot ones, or you might end up with hot peppers instead.