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Bell pepper


Varieties

The familiar green bell pepper we know is really an immature pepper that is fully developed but not ripe. When a green pepper is left on the vine, it will eventually turn red, orange, purple or even brown, depending on the variety. The red bell pepper is the most common mature pepper and yellow peppers can be found in immature and mature varieties. As bell peppers mature, their sugar content increases, so they become sweeter, and develop more nutrients, primarily Vitamins A and C.

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Storage

Unwashed sweet peppers stored in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator will keep for up to one week. Sweet peppers can be frozen without first being blanched. It is better to freeze them whole since there will be less exposure to air which can degrade both their nutrient content and flavor.

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Origins and Culture

Like their relatives, the chili peppers, sweet peppers originated in South America with seeds of a wild variety dating back 5000 BC. Otherwise known as Capsicums annuum, peppers are very adaptable plants, being able to be grown in tropical and temperate climates. Their cultivation and adoption into varying cuisines spread rapidly throughout many parts of the world. They are known as Paprika in Hungary, Japan, and Scandinavia and in India, Malaysia, and Australia they are called Capsicum. Peppers became a staple in central Europe where they are dried for paprika, a necessity for the flavor of Louisiana Creole dishes, and an integral ingredient in both Mexican and Portuguese cuisines.

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Nutritional and Medicinal Properties

A cup of freshly sliced red pepper has 174.80mg of Vitamin C, 5244.00 IU of Vitamin A, 15.64mcg of Vitamin K, and 0.23mg of Vitamin B6. If you are unfamiliar with the recommended daily intake these amount are considered excellent, and you can trust this vegetable to provide you with the nutrients you need. Bell peppers also provide us with a very good source of fibre, molybdenum, manganese, and folate as well as a good source of potassium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, tryptophan, and copper.

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Basic Cooking Instructions

Here are a few quick serving ideas:

Add finely chopped bell pepper to tuna or chicken salad.

Steam peppers for 5 minutes, stuff them with your favorite rice salad or grain pilaf, and bake them in a 350 F oven until they are warm [or roasted on the outside].

Try sauteed chopped peppers, celery, and onions with tofu, chicken or seafood to make a simple Louisiana Creole dish.

You could broil peppers marinated in olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and black pepper to make a delicious appetizer or side dish.

Puree roasted and peeled peppers with sauteed onions and zucchini to make a delicious refreshing soup that can be served hot or cold.

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