Do you love all things spicy and zesty? If so, peppers are your perfect partner in meal crime. Hot to medium heat peppers are great as ingredients in dishes (summer stews, savory sauces and guacamole), and mild, sweet peppers make excellent entrées and side dishes (think stuffed peppers filled with crisp veggies and juicy meat, seasoned pepper sandwiches and veggie cocktails).
Peppers are relatively easy to grow. Most peppers you see in personal gardens are transplants. They're started indoors, eight to 10 weeks before getting moved outdoors (peppers should be transplanted two to three weeks after the last expected frost). Pepper seeds begin to sprout after a week of 70 to 80 degree daytime temperatures. Peppers enjoy water in moderation, but shouldn't be overfertilized.
So, How Hot Do You Like It?
Cool to mild peppers
Bell peppers: If the thought of super hot peppers makes your toes curl, no worries! Bell peppers are sweet and mild, and come in varied, vibrant colors. Bell peppers are great grilled, baked or fresh!
Banana peppers and Poblano peppers: These bad boys are relatively mild, too. Banana peppers have slight heat, and are a great compliment to most any sandwich (pickled or fresh). Poblano peppers are perfect for stuffing with veggies, meat, cheese or rice. These peppers also can spice up sauces.
Jalapeno peppers: These green peppers are considered medium to hot. Jalapenos taste wonderful sliced atop a sandwich or burger, or as an ingredient in salsa or guacamole.
Serrano peppers: These peppers come in a variety of colors. Serrano peppers are a tinge hotter than jalapenos, and are typically eaten raw.
Scotch Bonnet and Habanero: If you aren’t prepared for the intense heat these peppers pack, don’t bother! The Bonnet resembles a small yellow bonnet, and is used in Caribbean and jerk dishes. Habanero peppers are shaped like a small bell and are orange. These peppers are typically used to spice up (as in a lot) sauces.
Obviously, the peppers mentioned above aren’t the only peppers out there. Check out “From Sweet to (Really!) Spicy: Your Guide to Summer Peppers” for additional, hot, pepper action.