A staple to many cuisines, peppers add colour, sweetness and sometimes spicy flavours to a variety of dishes. Here are 7 colourful pepper facts that you might not already know.
- 1. Bell peppers and hot peppers are from the same family. The bell pepper is the only member of the Capsicum amus genus like the hot chill peppers, it is the only variety that doesn’t produce any capsaicin, which is the compound that is the heat in child peppers.
- 2. Garden peppers are not related to black (table) pepper. The black and white pepper is the seed of the Piper nigum plant. Garden peppers belong to the Capisicum annum family. (Exceptions include tabasco and habanero peppers which belong to a separate family). Though, Europeans thought peppers, when dried, tasted similarly spicy to the black table spice.
- 3. The lobe is the thin membrane inside of the pepper. A ‘well-shaped’ bell pepper is blocky from the division of the lobes. A good ‘blocky’ pepper usually has 3-4 lobes.(Note: We like ours in all forms. Despite the appearance, they still taste great.)
- 4. Birds are not affected by hot peppers. Most variants of capsicum have capsaicin which is a lipophilic chemical (a chemical compound which can dissolve in fats) that produces a sensation of burning and is irritant to mammals. Thus, birds do not react to it. The heat is for protection but also allows birds to eat and spread the seed.
- 5. Ontario produces 65% of Canada’s bell pepper production. Quebec comes in second with 30%.
- 6. Bell peppers have the highest level of Vitamin C of any produce item. A red bell pepper has more than 253% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C. And guess what! The go-to fruit for vitamin C - the orange - only has 88% of your daily need!
- 7. Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers are just green peppers picked later. Green peppers, when not picked, continue to ripen on the vine and turn into the colourful red, yellow, and orange (and sometimes purple!) sweet peppers.
Even today, the wild ancestral chilis are harvested and held in the same regard as the domesticated variants (in their native climates) We like them in their many forms. Especially as a wonderful addition to a Salmorejo (the Spanish cold soup garnished with egg and pancetta).