About Bell Peppers

by , June 30, 2017
colorful bell peppers
Diana Rattray

The bell pepper is known as a "sweet pepper" or just "pepper" in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland, and as "capsicum" in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, Singapore and New Zealand. The shape is similar to that of a bell, hence the common name "bell pepper."

The name "pepper" might seem misleading. It was given to them by Christopher Columbus when he brought the plant back to Europe from America. At that time, peppercorns, or black pepper, the fruit of a completely different plant originating in India, was a valued spice. In Europe, the name "pepper" was applied to all known spices with a hot and pungent taste. This is why the newly discovered Capsicum was named "pepper."

Pepper seeds were later carried to Spain in 1493 and from there spread to other European, African and Asian countries. Today, China is the world's largest pepper producer, followed by Mexico and Indonesia.

The alternative name for the capsicum plant family is "chile," which is of Mexican origin, from the Nahuatl (Mexican Indian) word chilli or xilli.

Bell peppers are botanically fruits but are generally considered in culinary contexts to be vegetables.

Cooking with Bell Peppers

Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers are usually sweeter than green bell peppers. Multicolored peppers can make a dish much more attractive without altering the taste.

The peppers can be eaten raw or roasted in salads, and they make an excellent addition to stir-fry dishes. They're delicious with steak strips or shaved steak for sandwiches, and they make a great topping for pizza. And stuffed peppers have long been an American comfort food. They are often added to relishes and pickles.

Bell peppers also play an important role in Cajun cooking. The "holy trinity" of Cajun cooking is made up of bell peppers, onions, and celery, a combination based on the French "mirepoix."

How To Roast a Bell Pepper

  1. Preheat the broiler (high) and position the rack in the upper third of the oven.
  2. Place a bell pepper directly on the oven rack and roast until well charred and blistered, turning frequently to char all sides evenly.
  3. Remove the pepper to a food storage bag or paper bag or put it in a bow. Close the bag or cover the bowl and let the pepper stand for about 20 minutes.
  4. Peel or scrape the charred skins off. Remove the seeds and membranes; slice and season as desired.
  5. Refrigerate in a covered container for up to 3 days.

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See Also
Easy Zucchini Skillet With Peppers
Easy Pour Pizza
Rice Pilaf Recipe

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