Sweet Red Peppers
Sweet red peppers or bell peppers are considered "sweet" because it is part of the less pungent variety. Sweet red peppers have a mild sweet flavor, and a crisp juicy flesh.
Sweet red peppers are known for its nutrient density. It meets daily requirements for Vitamin C, Vitamin A, potassium, and beta carotene.
Sweet peppers are plump, bell-shaped vegetables featuring either three or four lobes. They usually range in size from 2 to 5 inches in diameter, and 2 to 6 inches in length. Inside the thick flesh is an inner cavity with edible bitter seeds and a white spongy core. Bell peppers are not 'hot'. They contain a recessive gene that eliminates capsaicin, the compound responsible for the 'hotness' found in other peppers.
Bell peppers, also known as sweet peppers, are like the Christmas ornaments of the vegetable world since they are beautifully shaped, glossy in appearance and come in a variety of vivid colors such as green, red, yellow, orange, purple, brown and black. Despite their varied palette, all are the same plant, known scientifically as Capsicum annuum, and are members of the nighstshade family, which also includes potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant.
Sweet peppers are plump, bell shaped vegetables that usually feature either three or four lobes. There are also other varieties that have a more tapered shape and no distinguishing lobes. Sweet peppers usually range in size from two to five inches in diameter and two to six inches in length. Inside the thick flesh is an inner cavity with edible bitter seeds and a white spongy core.
Selecting and Buying
Due to the fact that bell peppers are very adaptable plants, being able to be grown in tropical and temperature climates, as well as very versatile foods, their cultivation and adoption into varying cuisines spread rapidly throughout many parts of the world. They have become a staple in central Europe where they are dried for paprika, a necessity for the flavor of Louisiana Creole dishes, and an integral ingredient in both Mexican and Portuguese cuisines. Currently, the main producers of sweet peppers are China, Turkey, Spain, Romania, Nigeria and Mexico.
Plant seeds eight weeks before the last frost indoor using a pot that is at least 2 inches or slightly larger.
Prepare the garden by adding plenty of compost, manure and a general fertilizer.
Transplant young seedlings outdoors after the last chance of frost. If the weather is still cool, delay transplanting for a few days. Wait until the soil is 70 to 85 degrees before setting the seedlings out.
Space the seedlings 18 to 24 inches apart and in rows 24 to 36 inches apart. Spacing may vary by variety.
Water the plants regularly, especially in the hot, dry summer months. Pepper plants like moist soil. If you do not water enough, the bell peppers will acquire a bitter taste.
Surround the peppers with mulch to keep weeds from growing and to retain moisture.
Dust for spider mites and aphids with an organic insecticide as needed.
Harvest the bell pepper at any point after they reach an edible size. Most bell pepper peppers are green when immature and can be harvested at that time. Mature bell peppers can be red, orange, yellow, green or purple depending on the variety.
Continue to harvest bell peppers by clipping them off the plant, but don't pull them off. Bell peppers will continue to grow until the first frost.
Preparation and Use
Use a paring knife to cut around the stem and then gently remove it. Peppers can be cut into various shapes and sizes. To easily chop, dice or cut the peppers into strips, first cut the pepper in half lengthwise, clean out the core and seeds, and then, after placing the skin side down on the cutting surface, cut into the desired size and shape. Peppers can also be cut horizontally into rings or left whole for stuffed peppers after carefully removing the seeds from the inner cavity.
Conserving and Storing
Unwashed sweet peppers stored in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator will keep for up to one week. Sweet peppers can be frozen without first being blanched. It is better to freeze them whole since there will be less exposure to air which can degrade both their nutrient content and flavor.