Written by Selena Goss
Whenever you ask someone what their favorite vegetable is we usually get the fan favorites broccoli, tomatoes, or potatoes. Recently as an ice breaker, I was asked this exact question and my answer was Bell Pepper or its scientific name Capsicum Annum which surprised the group. Bell peppers are a staple in a lot of meals. They are incredibly versatile and are a fantastic way to easily add more veggies to any meal. Bell peppers are also affordable on a year-round scale and hearty as they do not go bad very quickly in cold storage plus, they freeze very well. The bell pepper is such a versatile veggie that can be enjoyed as a snack savory or sweet or in most meals as an easy veggie add-in. They come in an assortment of colors, the most common colors of bell peppers are green, yellow, orange, and red. Other more uncommon colors include brown, white, lavender, and dark purple, depending on the variety. Most typically, unripe bell peppers are green or, less commonly, pale yellow or purple. Red, orange, and yellow bell peppers are simply ripened green peppers. Like tomatoes, bell peppers are botanical fruits but culinary vegetables. This is because they are produced from a flowering plant and contain seeds most people think of as vegetables due to lack of sweetness that comes with a fruit.
Bell peppers are a fruit/veggie that is native to the Americas it is believed that bell peppers have been cultivated by the indigenous people of the Americas for over 9,000 years, the term bell peppers were coined by explorer Christophers Columbus when traveling to the Americas in the 15th century he brought the vegetable back to Spain as part of his finding hoping to compete with the popular but expensive peppercorn (black pepper) native to India. At the time of his voyage, Columbus and other Spanish explorers were searching for peppercorn plants to produce black pepper. Columbus took samples of a wide variety of peppers back to Europe where they became quite popular. Since then, bell peppers have also been introduced to Europe, Africa, and Asia. Peppers are used as a food, condiment, and spice today on a global scale. Fun fact bell peppers are considered globally a sweet pepper as they do not contain capsaicin, the chemical that gives peppers their heat. This means they score incredibly low in the Scoville Scale which is a tool used to measure the spiciness of a pepper.
Bell peppers, no matter the color, are a great source of Vitamin A and if you prefer red bell peppers, they have double the amount of Vitamin C than the green bell pepper. Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers are sweeter than green ones because bell peppers sweeten as they ripen. While bell peppers are available in a wide variety of colors on a global scale here in the US green bell peppers are the most popular type of pepper. Grown mostly in Florida. California, Texas, New Jersey, and North Carolina bell pepper need a warmer climate given their origins in Central and South America. Bell peppers are a great veggie and one I considered underrated due to how versatile and easy they are to overlook.