Peppers are a unique item in the produce world because though they are treated as a vegetable while cooking, botanists see them as a fruit due to the fact that they actually grow from a blossom. Originally, pepper seed was brought to Spain in 1493, which then allowed bell peppers to advance throughout Europe and into Asia. Within the Solanaceae family tree exist two versions of the pepper: sweet and hot (chile). You can typically find hotter varieties of peppers growing in warmer climates across the globe, but domestically speaking, California and Florida tend to lead the production of bell peppers, though Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina and Ohio often step in to fill seasonal demands as well.
From the standpoint of typical US consumers, the most common pepper colors are green, red, yellow and orange. Though these peppers all start out as green, their color will change as they mature on the plant and absorb the full nutrition of their varietal seed. As their hues transform, sweetness levels rise accordingly, which is why the red peppers tend to be deemed as sweeter than their green counterparts. This phenomena is also why green peppers are typically less expensive than red, yellow or orange, as that extended time on the plant for the more colorful varieties means increased care and attention to those plants before harvest, raising the theoretical market price.
It’s important to know that peppers, no matter the color, like to be stored in the refrigerator, unwashed and in the vegetable drawer. Excessive moisture causes peppers to shrivel and rot, so be sure to only wash peppers once you are ready to eat them. When picking out peppers at the grocery store, be sure to select peppers with firm structural integrity and little to no skin damage. A sure way to add more nutrients to your diet and life to your party platters, you can find hot and sweet peppers at your local supermarket year-round.
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