What’s your color?
Bell peppers are the most common pepper in our supermarkets. They are also known as sweet peppers and are the mild tasting younger sister of hot and spicy chili peppers. The most interesting feature of bell peppers is their color. While there are many different varieties of bell pepper, all peppers change color on the vine. Almost all bell peppers are green when they are underripe, and then they ripen into yellow, orange and often red. A few special varieties of peppers are purple or ivory colored at first, but all peppers change color as they ripen. What does this mean for you? Well, peppers that are more ripe tend to be sweeter than underripe peppers, so red peppers are the sweetest of the peppers. Because peppers ripen only when still on the vine, orange, yellow and red peppers take longer to grow than green peppers, and as a result you’ll find they are more expensive than green peppers. That extra time on the vine also allows for more beta-carotene and Vitamin A to be produced, so you’ll be spending your extra money on nutrition as well as a sweeter flavor when you pick up red peppers instead of green.
How to Buy
When buying peppers, look for those that are shiny, un-wrinkled and with un-blemished skin. Peppers should be firm when you squeeze them. While curved and curly peppers are fun to look at, if you choose peppers with straight sides, it will make it much easier to cut.
How to Store
Store peppers in a plastic bag in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator. Colored peppers are good in the fridge for 4 to 5 days, while green peppers can easily last a week.
Let’s Cut to the Chase…
The most troublesome part of cutting a bell pepper is getting all the seeds inside all over the cutting board. Thankfully, there is a way to avoid this.
Start by turning the pepper over so that the stem end is on the cutting board. (You might have to trim the stem so that the pepper sits mostly flat on the board.) Using the lines on the outside of the pepper as a guide, slice down the pepper so that the blade enters the pepper on one of the lines and exits the pepper on another line. Slice down towards the cutting board this way and you should cut the side of the pepper right off. The lines of a pepper show you where the veins are inside the pepper. The veins are unsightly and usually trimmed off before adding pepper pieces to a recipe, so cutting them off at this stage saves you time later.
Once you have one side removed from the pepper, slice off the next side, again using the lines on the pepper as a guide. The last side of the pepper is always the hardest to remove, but do your best to slice down the veins and around the seeds, which should be grouped right underneath the stem of the pepper.
After removing the sides of the pepper, you can easily cut the pepper into slices, small dice or large dice.
The one time this method won’t work is if you want to slice rings of pepper, as you sometimes see on a pizza. In order to do this, insert the point of your knife into the top of the pepper and slice around the stem.
If you do this properly, you should be able to pull the packet of seeds right out of the pepper. This is what you would do if you were preparing stuffed peppers.
If you’re going for the sliced rings, just turn the pepper on its side and slice away.
Peppers are versatile and can add a little sweetness, color and nutrition to your meal no matter how you slice ’em! So, grab your chef’s knife and give it a go. Practice makes perfect.
If you’d like your pepper flavor to be even sweeter, try roasting the peppers. There are many ways to roast a pepper and you can read about that here.
- Bell peppers come in several varieties, but they all change color on the vine.
- Almost all bell peppers are green when underripe. They change to yellow, orange and red on the vine.
- Red peppers have more nutritious value than green peppers, with more beta-carotene and Vitamin A.
- Red peppers are also more expensive than green peppers because they take longer to grow.
- When buying peppers, look for:
- Shiny, un-wrinkled, un-blemished skin
- Peppers that are firm when squeezed gently
- Peppers with straight sides are easier to cut
- Store peppers in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator in a plastic bag
- Colored peppers can be stored for 4 to 5 days, while green peppers will keep easily for a week.