Peppers: All the Bells & Whistles from
Growing to Cooking
Homegrown peppers can be one of the
most rewarding choices for yourgarden...and dinner.
Choices and varieties range from the sweet bell peppers to hot
chili peppers. Varieties have their origins in Asia, Central America and
North America, but they are grown around the globe for their brilliant
colors and amazing flavors.Peppers can be used in Italian recipes, Greek
recipes and of course Mexican cuisine. Finding the right choice for your
garden as well as your preferred taste will prove fun and
Bell pepper is the
common name for the group of plants in the species Capsicum annuum. These
plants are known for their bell-shapedfruit, which is where they
get their label. They come in a wide range of colors including red,
yellow, orange, and purple. The green bell peppers that are commonly
found in the produce sections of the market are actually unripe
peppers of the colored varieties. This results is one of the
reasons they are not as sweet as the others. Bell peppers are sweet peppers and do not contain the natural chemical which causes the“heat” in other peppers.
Purple Beauty produces
three inch fruits that start off crisp green before maturing into an
eggplant purple. The plants produce a high yield,and are also cultivated
to be disease resistant. It is a good plant for growing in almost any
climate. The plants are compact and bushy.The fruit is thick, and perfect
for slicing into any meal where a little color is desired.
Beauty is another bell pepper. The plant was first
introducedin 1993 but is always an interesting addition to the
garden. Thefruits mature to around 4 inches and are a dark,
chocolate brown with afew black or purple highlights.
•Bell Boy is a hybrid bell pepper that produces bright
red fruits.The plants grow to around three feet tall and are
resistant to TobaccoMosaic Virus and other diseases. The fruit is
of medium size, and maturesat about six inches. It is a great
choice for adding color to salads,but is also good for
•Summer Sweet is another hybrid that
is highly disease resistant. Thefruit changes from green to gold
when it matures. It reaches around fourto six inches and it a
great color addition to salsa orsalad.
Bell is a compact plant that only reaches about one toone
and a half feet tall. The fruit is also small with most maturingat
less than two inches. It is an heirloom bell pepper that is greatfor
drying and pickling, but can also add some bright gold coloring tosalsa, sauces or salad.
All hotpeppers get their heat from the
chemical known as capsaicin. The heat ofthe peppers is measured
in Scoville heat units (the number of timesthe extract must be
diluted in water to lose its heat). The higher theScoville number
the hotter the chili.
Not often thought of, but hot peppers
are often used by manyItalians in the form of hot pepper flakes.
Some people love the flavor ofspicy food so much they even add it
to their own spaghetti. However, ifpreparing a meal for family
and friends, it is best to provide each persontheir own individual pasta bowl so they can
individually add the appropriate amountof spices they prefer.
Here are alist of some hot pepper varieties:
jolokia (Ghost pepper) is considered the hottest pepperaround,
and measures out at around 1,000,000 SHU. They have been certifiedby Guinness as the world's hottest chili pepper. This variety
caneasily be grown as a patio plant and does well in containers.
•Aji Amarillo Chili is a Peruvian variety
which produces longyellow or orange fruit around five inches
long. The heat level is intensebut the flavor is
Anaheim Pepper is a mild green to red
pepper, and is an excellentchoice for chili rellenos. The fruits
of this variety often grow up to 10inches.
Carrot Pepper is shaped like a carrot. The fruit is crunchyat
maturity and provides a medium to hot spiciness for dishes. Theplants
of this variety usually grow only to about 18 inches. It is anattractive plant which can be used for ornamental purposes, but
Peruvian White is another hybrid from
Peru. This habanero pepper issmall, maturing to a gold coloring.
It is a hot to extremely hot peppervariety with a SHU of around
Kung Pao is a hybrid pepper plant that
grows up to four feet tall.It produces hot fruit that measure up
to 30,000 SHU. The size of thefruit is only around five inches
and it has a tapered shape. It maturesto a red color and can make
a nice addition to fresh dishes. It isalso a good choice for
drying because of its size and color. Thisvariety is a good
choice for growing indoors.
Stuffed Bell Peppers
Recipe (any color) . Serves 4
Preheat theoven to 350
degrees F. In a large frying pan heat some olive oil andadd
approximately 4 chopped cloves of garlic. Saute 2 minutes. Add 1/3pound
ground beef or bison and cook until done.
1/2 cup orzo pasta in a sauce pan, drain and set aside.
When meat is finished, add the orzo to the meat along with a pinchof
salt and pepper and 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley.
Cut off tops of
peppers and fill insides with the mixture. Place cut off tops backon
top and place bell peppers in a pre-greased baking dish. Bake for35
minutes or longer until vegetables are tender. Servewarm.
AuthorCredit: This article and recipe was contributed by
Elizabeth Trementozzi,publisher of a cooking website featuring easy
Italian recipes. After visiting with relatives in Italy,Elizabeth
has since been inspired to better appreciate the simplistic cooking
and lifestyles of the Italians. From learning how to use a stovetop
and astainless steel espresso maker for a quick shot of espresso,to
learning the value of gardening fresh vegetables for meals, shenow
shares her love for simple Italian cooking through writingarticles
and sharing information on her website.