Season for Bell Peppers July - September
Bell Peppers Described
Bell peppers - or sweet peppers - are considered one of the most popular vegetables in our culinary repertoire, showcased at every turn. But, in fact, they're actually a fruit. All bell peppers start out green, but as they mature (or vine ripen), their colors transform along a vibrant range from yellow to orange to red, and from purple to brown to black - some solid and some brilliantly variegated. And as they ripen, so too does their sugar content deepen, giving bell peppers a mild, sweet flavor and crisp, juicy flesh.
How to Buy and Store Bell Peppers
When picking your bell peppers, opt for those firm, vivid and richly-colored specimens, avoiding those that are limp, shriveled or that have soft or bruised spots. Look for stems that appear fresh and green, not wilted. Shape and size doesn't matter when selecting your bell peppers (we love baby bell peppers!), but opt for those that feel heavy for their size. You can store most peppers wrapped in the refrigerator for up to a week, but since the red varieties are the most mature, you want to eat those within a day or two.
How to Cook Bell Peppers
To prepare your pepper for cutting, wash it under cold water, and if it happens to be waxed, you may want to take a vegetable brush to it, thoroughly so. Use a knife to cut out the stem, pulling out the spongy membrane that encases the seeds and shaking the pepper to remove any stragglers. If you plan to stuff, you can also slice the top third of the bell pepper straight off, scooping out the seeds and after stuffing place the top with the stem back on top for a beautiful presentation. Peppers can be cut to your liking - horizontally into rings, diced or sliced. They are often used raw in salads or on a veggie platter with a melange of dips. In cooking, they can be sautéed, roasted, grilled, braised and steamed. But our favorite is stuffing these beauties, like our Organic Baby Peppers Stuffed with Fresh Herbed Goat Cheese.
Health Benefits of Bell Peppers
The bright colors of the bell pepper varieties denote a rich source of nutrients, in particular antioxidants that are linked to numerous health benefits including anti-cancer and anti-cholesterol powers. Red peppers in particular contain high levels of the powerful antioxidant beta carotene, thought to support eye and circulatory system health and help protect against some forms of cancer. All bell peppers are packed with vitamin B6 and vitamin C, plus a good dose of dietary fiber, and can help keep arthritis at bay. Go ahead and eat the rainbow!
Why Buy Natural and Organic Bell Peppers
According to the Environmental Working Group, bell peppers are among the Dirty Dozen and are very likely to carry multiple pesticide residues when grown conventionally. Plus, they are often waxed with a petroleum-based fungicide to prolong their shelf life. Bell peppers are a must on our list of only bought organically. That way you know they don't contain all those harmful toxins, tainting the beauty of this oh so fresh and crunchy fruit.