Eat ‘em raw, grilled, sautéed, or freeze for later: no matter how you eat and prepare them, bell peppers are a must-have summer farmers market veggie…or, actually, fruit! Though typically thought of as a vegetable, bell peppers are technically classified as a fruit because they contain seeds and grow from a flowering plant. Bell peppers are in the Salicaceae or nightshade family, along with eggplants, tomatoes, and potatoes. Like all peppers, bell peppers are in the Capsicum genus of flowering plants; however, they are unique in that they do not contain capsaicin, the compound that gives other peppers their spicy bite. Bell peppers are readily available at Maryland farmers markets from July to early October.
Bell peppers are high in Vitamin C. Vitamin C can alleviate symptoms of the common cold. Bell peppers contain a whopping 82% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C for men and nearly all of the RDA of Vitamin C for women, so if you’re fighting a pesky summer cold, bell peppers may help cure what ails you! Red, yellow, and orange peppers carry an added benefit: they’re full of antioxidants, coming from the carotenoids that give peppers their beautiful colors.
Selection and Storage
Bell peppers should be shiny, firm, and brightly colored. You can find bell peppers in a variety of green, yellow, orange, and red shades. Don’t let red peppers with yellow spots, or yellow peppers with orange spots deter you- these multicolored beauties are still delicious! Avoid wrinkly, blemished, or dull-colored peppers, as these are signs that they have aged.
Bell peppers should be stored in a dry area of the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
To extend the longevity of a pepper and enjoy it well into the winter months, try freezing it by following the steps below. When ready to eat, thaw and cook in your favorite pepper recipe. Frozen peppers do not taste great raw, but will cook as normal sautéed!
Pairing and Preparation:
Bell peppers’ natural sweetness is enhanced by heat. Try roasting before use in soups or salads, or marinate roasted peppers in vinegar for a delicious side. Raw bell peppers add a great crunch to a salad, and are a great finger food accompanied by hummus or your favorite dip.
Balsamic Pepper Recipe from The Spruce
Photo Credit: Yuri Huta