Peppers can be prepared so many ways
Posted: 08/11/2013 at 7:01 am
Food & Nutrition
Now and throughout the fall is a great time to put more peppers into your meal planning. Peppers not only provide lots of color with lots of nutrients, but they can be prepared so many ways, and can also be preserved.
All peppers, whether sweet or hot, are members of the capsicum family and native to the New World. When selecting peppers choose ones that feel heavy for their size and as a result have thick, meaty skin/walls, and they should be firm and shiny. Avoid peppers with soft spots or shriveled areas. Peppers are nutrient dense, which means they have a lot of food value. Peppers are a rich source of vitamin C, higher even than oranges and grapefruit. Peppers are as good of a source of vitamin A as carrots.
We divide peppers into two types: sweet and hot. Although it is sometimes difficult to distinguish by sight a sweet pepper from a hot one, it is generally true that the smaller the pepper, the hotter. However, weather, soil and degree of maturity can affect capsaicin content, making one pepper hotter than another of the same variety; even peppers on the same plant can vary in pungency.
When working with hot peppers you need to protect your hands as well as your eyes and face. I have heard many wild stories from some of you on how you were careless and ended up soaking your hands in cold water, milk or honey for a long time. Hot peppers really require that you wear gloves. Last year I wrote about my own hot pepper hand-burning experience and I donít want to experience that ever again.
The most widely available sweet pepper is the bell pepper, named for its bell-like shape. Green bell peppers are the most common, but red, yellow and even purple bells peppers are common. Many green bells become red with age and are sweet when red.
Regardless of the color all bell peppers have a mild flavor and a crisp, crunchy texture. Raw bell peppers add color and crunch to salads and raw vegetable assortments served with dips. Think about using the bell pepper as a container for your favorite dip or cheese spread. You can also cut in strips and spread the cheese spread on them, then they are easy for your family and friends to pick up and enjoy. They are also wonderful when stuffed with meat and rice.
Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross is an Extension educator in consumer family science. Write to her at 17746 E. C.R. 34, Goshen, IN 46528; call 533-0554; fax 533-0254; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.