Description Botany, History, Types of Peppers

Peppers are the fruits of Capsicum annuum, a plant (or rather, a group of botanical varieties) belonging to the Solanaceae family.

The shrub of the peppers is erect, provided with a slight down and not more than 100-150cm high; the plant has green and shiny leaves, lanceolate, the flowers are white and grow just below or above the leaves (near the leaf axil), respectively one per node. Of the peppers the fruit is consumed, or better, the berry; this, first green and then (following maturation) pigmented with yellow or red depending on the variety, contains a placenta (white film) that binds some light, round and flattened seeds. For the uninitiated, just the placenta and the seeds contain the famous spicy active ingredient of the peppers (more precisely of the peppers): capsicin .

WARNING! From the peppers it is possible to obtain different spices; the best known are paprika and chilli powder or ground. Although they can be commonly used as synonyms, powdered / ground pepper and paprika are spices obtained from MA peppers that are absolutely different from each other; the powdered hot pepper is strongly spicy and its power depends on the variety of dried capsicum, which is entirely pulverized / ground (with placenta and seeds); on the contrary, the paprika is obtained by drying and grinding the private pulp of both the placenta and the seeds; therefore the paprika is NOT absolutely spicy (the reader is not fooled by the various types of paprika on the market; even the "strong" paprika is not even remotely resembling powdered / ground chili).

The peppers were imported from Central and South America (Brazil) into Europe by the Spaniards during the first half of the sixteenth century AD In Europe, they were initially known by the name of "pepper of Brazil". Today, peppers are vegetables that are widely spread around the world and become part of many local culinary traditions; also in Italy, both in the north and in the south, peppers play a fundamental role since, by virtue of their marked botanical heterogeneity, they adapt to very different preparations and packaging methods.

Peppers can be classified according to their spiciness (spicy and sweet) and their shape (ribs, horns and squashed); the most widespread in our national territory are: square of Carmagnola, square of Asti, square of Nocera, heart-shaped of Capriglio, thin Cornetto of Pontecorvo and the hook of Senise . But they are not the only ones ...

Types of peppers most consumed in Italy:

  1. Sweet peppers:
    1. Square peppers: yellow or red of Nocera, yellow or red of Asti, red or yellow Braidese, California Wonder, Yolo Wonder, Topepo or tomato pepper
    2. Horn peppers: Corno di toro, along Marconi, long of Chiasso, bull of Spain, peppers of Senise IGP, verticus
    3. Elongated peppers: long and sweet thin pepper, Bergamo cigarette, long by Nocera
  2. Spicy peppers:
    1. Horn peppers: Thin and long Cajenna pepper
    2. Square peppers: dwarf square of Asti, small square of Veneto, small of Florence, Pimento.

Grow peppers

As anticipated, peppers are fruits grown practically all over the globe; in Italy their production is slowly waning, but at home it is still possible to successfully grow excellent peppers and chillies. Let's start by pointing out that the pepper can be obtained after sowing, in a protected seedbed (March), or burying the roots of the novice plant (recommended for beginners - May); it is not a particularly difficult production, it is necessary to make sure that the peppers do not get sick (mold or virus) and that they do not remain infested with parasites (bedbugs, aphids, snails, etc.). Watering is daily and varies according to atmospheric temperature. The harvest is carried out already from the last week of July or from the first of August, when the peppers are still green (ideal for storage in cans); on the contrary, to eat them raw or cooked but ripe it is necessary to wait for them to acquire the typical yellow or red pigment. The peppers that finish ripening on the plant are destined for the production of paprika or dried chilli.

Nutritional characteristics

Peppers are fruits that belong to the seventh food group; they are characterized by a modest energy supply coming mainly from the fructose content, while lipids and proteins are almost marginal. Peppers are foods that, when eaten raw, contain the highest amounts of vitamin C (ascorbic acid); moreover, the following are also not to be overlooked: the supply of water, that of dietary fiber and the pool of mineral salts (especially potassium). Peppers are also an excellent source of beta-carotene and other carotenoids; in general, the more red they are, the more beta-carotene and vitamin C they contain (a ripe red pepper can contain, for the same weight, up to 4/5 times more vitamin C than an orange). Very important, as indeed happens a little for all vegetables, the environment in which they are grown; the ideal conditions to maximize the beta-carotene content seem to be those in which the temperature remains constant around 20 ° C. Just like another famous carotenoid with strong antioxidant properties, lycopene, beta-carotene is also better absorbed in the context of a lipid-rich dish; adding a tablespoon of oil during cooking can therefore improve the availability of this precious nutrient for the body.

To preserve the maximum vitamin C contained in the peppers, it would be ideal to consume them raw; however, to improve the digestibility of the vegetable and the availability of the carotenoids, we recommend a sober steaming or frying in a pan not too alive.

Video Recipe - Peperonata


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Nutritional values

Green peppers Yellow peppers Red peppers
of which sugarsg2.4ND4.2
Retinol (Vit. A)mcg000
Vitamin A, IUIU3702003131
Vitamin A, RAEmcg_RAE1810157
Thiamine (Vit. B1)mg005700280054
Riboflavin (Vit. B2)mg002800250085
Niacin (Vit. B3)mg00:480.890979
Pantothenic acid (Vit. B5)mg009901680317
Pyridoxine (Vit. B6)mg022401680291
Folate, totalmcg102646
Cobalamin (Vit. B12)mcg000
Ascorbic acid (Vit. C)mg80.4183.5127.7
Colecalcifenol (Vit. D)IU000
Alpha-tocopherol (Vit. E)mg00:37ND1:58
Phylloquinone (Vit. K)mcg7.4ND4.9
Total choline (Vit. J)mg5.5ND5.6
Carotene, betamcg2081201624
Carotene, alphamcg21ND20
Cryptoxanthin, betamcg7ND490
Lutein + zeaxanthinmcg341ND51

Peppers are also known to be "hard to digest" foods; in reality this statement is only partially acceptable. What is indigestible is the fibrous complexion that covers the pulp, that is the transparent film commonly (and improperly) called "skin". After cooking, eliminating it, the peppers will not be less digestible than any other vegetable. Green peppers are generally less sweet and more difficult to digest, even without skin, while red and yellow peppers boast greater sweetness and digestibility.

Baked, stuffed, grilled, stir-fried or in salads: peppers are suitable for all uses in the kitchen; they are also used for soups, sauces, purees and to season pasta. Discover Mypersonaltrainer's recipes based on peppers