Bell peppers are those familiar globes used for slicing, sautéing, and stuffing. They are mild by comparison to other peppers as the seeds and membrane do not contain the heat-inducing “capsaicin.” Bells contain considerable amounts of Vitamins A and C.
Green bell peppers are the most plentiful year-round. They are also the least expensive as harvesting is done before ripening. This allows time during the growing season for multiple crops. Green bells are high in folic acid and are slightly bitter by comparison to ripened peppers.
Yellow and orange bells are the color phases of a semi-ripened pepper. They are more expensive than green bells and sweeter. In fact, yellow bell peppers are usually juicier than reds.
Red bells are, along with yellows, the most expensive and have higher concentrations of Vitamin C. Reds have reached the final ripening stage. Prices will drop in the fall after harvesting, but the plants produce only one crop throughout each season.
Hybrids vary in size and shape as well as colors, which include white, purple, brown, and almost black. Attractive in salads; some will turn green when cooked.
- All bell peppers should be firm with a shiny skin and no blemishes. (The exception would be locally-grown produce.)
- Prices will fluctuate during the year. Generally, the peak season and best prices are in late summer for green bells.
- Remove from plastic bag and refrigerate.
- Green bell peppers will last longer than the riper yellows and reds. Length of time will depend on condition when purchased. Green peppers should last at least two weeks refrigerated.
- To freeze, slice and wash. Removing the stem, membranes, and seeds and place in a plastic bag. Bells may last longer when blanched first, but will be good for several months either way. In most cases, thawing will not affect their use in fresh salads.
- Do not clean peppers until ready to use.
- Slice and add to stir-fry dishes or sauté with cabbage or onion slivers.
- Slice horizontally in rings and add to sandwiches.
- If a recipe states “green pepper” (or simply red or yellow), it is probably referring to a bell.
- One large pepper will yield approximately one cup chopped. One cup is about 40 calories.
- Try other sweet peppers such as sweet bananas and pimientos.
- Because green peppers are typically bitter by comparison to the ripened fruits, do not use them interchangably.