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Love Local Ontario Produce | Sweet Peppers

Sweet Peppers

Everything You Need to Know About Greenhouse Peppers

Peppers have a lot going for them. Loaded with vitamins A and C, potassium, fibre and folic acid, they’re also low in calories but big on flavour and come in a variety of colours, including: green, yellow, orange, red and even purple. Commonly, they are known as bell peppers for their bell-like shape, and you can find them fresh, frozen, roasted, dried and sometimes even canned.

Greenhouse Pepper Varieties

 The most common type of greenhouse pepper is the sweet bell pepper. The peppers are allowed to mature before they are harvested, and are often available in yellow, orange and red varieties, with red being the most popular and the most nutritious because of the extended length of time it spends on the vine.

How to Select and Store Peppers

 When buying your produce choose sweet peppers that have smooth and shiny skin. They should also be firm and plump, without any cracks or soft spots. Different coloured peppers have slightly different flavours. Try each colour for a different spin. For example, if you love roasted red peppers, try roasting yellow peppers instead.

Sweet peppers should be stored unwashed, in a perforated plastic bag the refrigerator. They will keep for about a week.

How to Prepare Peppers

Wash the pepper then cut in half lengthwise from one side of the stem to the other. From here you can easily pull the seeds out and trim away any white membrane. Another quick way to prepare a pepper is to cut all four sides off, leaving the seeds and stem to discard.

If you are planning on eating your pepper raw, you can julienne it or cut it into chunks to add it to your favourite salad, slaw or crudité platter.

Peppers are incredibly versatile. In addition to being enjoyed raw, they can be included in a variety of dishes. Try sautéing, baking, grilling on the BBQ, steaming or braising them.  Peppers add a depth of flavour to spaghetti sauce, can be cleaned out and stuffed to bake for an impressive side dish or appetizer, or roasted to enjoy on a sandwich or in a soup.

 It’s also possible to freeze peppers so if you find them on sale, or in season, pick up  more than you need for the week. Seed the peppers and then freeze them for up to 6 months. When they thaw they’ll be too soft for a salad, but can be cooked and are a great addition to an omelette or homemade pasta sauce. To freeze peppers pieces, simply chop them, remove the seeds, and place in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Roasting peppers is a popular way to prepare themTo make roasted red peppers, wash the peppers well, leaving the whole pepper intact. Rub peppers with olive oil, and over a BBQ grill or on the grill setting in your oven, place peppers directly on the grill rack. Cook the peppers and rotate them until all sides are dark and blistered. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Gently rub off the blistered skin, remove the stem and seeds, and cover in some more olive oil until you use it for sauces, sandwiches, or in pasta. If you are in a hurry, you can also place the roasted peppers in a sealed brown paper bag, where they will steam and the skins will come off a little more quickly and easily.

Yield: Two large peppers will (on average) yield 2½ cups chopped

Pepper Tips

  • The skin of a pepper can be tough, which makes it hard to slice thin from the skin side. Instead, slice the pepper from the inside flesh of the pepper (skin side down).
  • A seeded pepper makes a great dip container.
  • To easily add more peppers into your diet, try adding them to a sandwich for a little crunch, or eat them with a dip such as hummus.
  • A fun way to de-seed a pepper is to hold it in your hand and smack it on the kitchen counter, stem side down.  Then easily pull the stem out, complete with seeds.
  • Kids love rainbows, buy different colours of peppers and cut, arranging them like a rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green. Eat the rainbow.

Peppers Go Well With

Herbs & Seasonings: basil, garlic, lemon, oregano, thyme, chili peppers

Produce: eggplant, onion, tomatoes, zucchini

Protein: sausages, tofu, chicken, ham, tuna, eggs

Cheeses: Parmesan, mozzarella, feta and goat

Other: Rice, potatoes, pasta, bread, olive oil, and balsamic and wine vinegars

Peppers Serving Ideas

Peppers add vibrant colour and crunch to many dishes such as salads and stir-frys and an equally vibrant when stuffed or roasted.

Chop peppers and add them to a salad, or enjoy them with dip.

Add peppers to omelettes, soups and pasta sauces.

Put them on top of a pizza, grill them on the BBQ, add them to ratatouille, or put them in a gazpacho.

Stuff them with quinoa for a great entrée or fill them with macaroni and cheese for a kid-friendly meal that encourages kids to eat more veggies.

Peppers Nutrition

Peppers are low in calories and carbohydrates and have 0% fat. They are an excellent source of Vitamin C and also provide vitamin B6, vitamin A, and potassium, beta-carotene, fibre, folate and iron.  Cooking peppers lowers the amount of vitamin C and some of the B vitamins, since they are heat sensitive.

Sweet bell peppers have been found to contain the important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonoid. Red peppers, as indicative of their colour (similar to tomatoes, watermelon, and other red foods) contain lycopene, believed important for reducing risk of certain cancers (prostate cancer, cancer of the cervix, bladder, and pancreas).

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