Ah, the stately red bell pepper! 8 years ago I discovered the art of roasting red bell peppers. Now they can usually be found in my freezer ready for use. While they make a good side dish, baked and seasoned with garlic, onion, oregano, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, roasted red bell peppers are good additions to many dishes along with garlic, onion, carrot and celery. Since it has been roasted, it can be added to soups, salads, meat entrees, casseroles and vegetables later in cooking. Oh yes, don’t forget putting it on pizzas.
Sweet Bell Pepper History
These are not to be confused with chili peppers. The sweet bell peppers come in multiple colors from green, red, yellow, orange, purple, brown and black. The green and purple bell peppers are slightly bitter, None of the bell peppers are hot due to smaller amounts of capsaicin in them. All can be used to stuff and bake. When cut in half or cutting the tops off, they do make great little cups to stuff.
South and Central Americas were first known to have cultivated the bell peppers about 9000 years ago. Now they are raised throughout the world and used in many cuisines. In 2007, China was the largest producer commercially of the bell pepper. Florida and California are the largest commercial producing states in the U.S. New Mexico is the leader in the U.S. of commercially producing chili peppers.
Selection and Storage
Whether you buy your peppers in the grocery, open-air market or farmer’s market, select peppers which are firm, with green stems and heavy. Choose those free of blemishes, soft spots or dark areas. Not all green bell peppers turn red and some peppers never start out green. Just be sure the colors are deep and vivid and heavy for their size.
Storage of bell peppers will keep 7-10 days in the refrigerator’s vegetable compartment. It is best not to cut the stem off prior to storage, although sometimes they are sold without the longer stem. To prevent moisture loss in the refrigerator storage, it is best to put a damp towel or towelling in the vegetable compartment to keep their moisture. Bell peppers can be frozen without blanching, whole for stuffing or in pieces for adding to foods.
Healthy Benefits of Sweet Bell Peppers
Sweet bell peppers are an excellent source of nutrients rich in an antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties necessary to reduce the risk of chronic health disorders such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. The vivid bright colors of red, orange and yellow are carotenoids which are the precursor to vitamin A. Remember being told to eat your carrots to help your eyes, yes vitamin A. Sweet bell peppers are excellent sources of vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin B 6. They are also very good source of fiber, vitamin E, K B 2, B 3 and potassium; they are low in fat.
Try roasting your sweet bell peppers, red, orange, yellow or even purple. They do add color to foods. Doing so is worth the time and effort and are not packed in oil. Besides that you get your vitamin A. Enjoy!
See my recipes: Red Bell Peppers Stuffed with Beans and Rice and Summer Time Coleslaw.
Informational Resource: The World’s Healthiest Foods, www.whfoods.org.
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