Peppers are a vegetable used in a variety of dishes as seasoning, garnish, main dish, and relish. They can even be served raw with a vegetable dip. Peppers are native to tropical America and were grown by Native Americans in North and South America over 2,000 years ago. Small hot peppers were discovered by Columbus in the West Indies and introduced into Europe where they became popular before gaining acceptance in the United States.
Peppers come in a variety of shapes, colors, sweetness, and “hotness.” Some sweet pepper varieties are bell, pimiento, sweet banana, and sweet cherry. Hot varieties are cayenne, chili, jalapeño, Hungarian, Serrano, and some cherry varieties. Peppers are available from mid-July through September.
For information on pepper varieties in Ohio, contact your county educator in agriculture and natural resources at Ohio State University Extension, or a master gardener volunteer.
- Choose peppers that are firm, crisp, fresh, and brightly colored.
- Avoid peppers with bruised, blistered, cracked, wrinkled, or soft skin as these may be overripe or damaged.
Due to many variables such as moisture content, size, and variety, it is difficult to give specific recommendations. The recommendations below are approximations.
- 1 bushel = 25 pounds peppers
- 1 bushel = 17–21 quarts canned
- 1 quart = 1⅓ pounds
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 2½ cups of a variety of vegetables each day as part of a healthy diet. One large green pepper has 22 calories. Bell peppers are high in fiber, an excellent source of vitamin C, and have antioxidants to prevent cancer and fight heart disease. Red, orange, and bright yellow peppers provide some vitamin A.
- Peppers are best stored between 45–50 degrees Fahrenheit for two weeks or less. Your refrigerator should be kept at 40 F or below for optimal food safety. Peppers stored in the refrigerator may be susceptible to damp and/or freezing.
- Wash peppers thoroughly in cold water to remove dirt. Do not use soap, detergent, or bleach because these liquids absorb into the vegetable.
- Lift vegetables from water to prevent redepositing of dirt and residues. Use a soft brush to clean peppers if needed.
- To prepare, place the pepper on its side and cut a thin slice through the vegetable to remove its stem end. Remove seeds and fibrous portion. Rinse to remove seeds if needed.
- When removing seeds from hot peppers, wear gloves or use a kitchen tool to prevent skin irritation.
- Serve raw in salad or with dip.
- Add to soups, stews, stir-fries, and casseroles.
- Chop up in salsas, sauces, or on pizza.
- Make hot pepper jelly or relish.
- Stuff whole with a meat/rice mixture and bake.
- Fry pepper slices or rings in small amount of olive oil for 3–5 minutes or until crisp, tender, and light brown.
- Wear plastic or rubber gloves while handling hot chilies.
Two methods for removing the thin, tough skins on peppers.
Before beginning either method, slit each pepper along the side. This will allow steam to escape during cooking.
After completing method one or two, let the peppers cool for several minutes, then slip off their skins, discard any seeds, and chop as needed.
Stuffed Pepper Soup
Yield: 10 servings
Time: Approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes
- 2 lbs. lean hamburger
- 2 cans (8 oz.) tomato sauce
- 2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
- 2 cans (14 oz.) low sodium beef broth
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cups green pepper, chopped
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups long grain rice, cooked
- Cook hamburger and onion in skillet until hamburger is no longer pink. Drain well.
- Add all ingredients except rice.
- Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Add cooked rice and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add water if needed for desired consistency.
Nutrient analysis per serving: calories 380, fat 11 g, total carbohydrates 44 g, protein 24 g, and sodium 510 mg.
For information on preserving peppers, go to ohioline.osu.edu or contact your local Ohio State University Extension office for the following fact sheets:
- Canning Basics, HYG-5338
- Basics for Canning Vegetables, HYG-5344
- Freezing Vegetables, HYG-5333
- Drying Fruits and Vegetables, HYG-5347
Blubaugh, Matt. Peppers. Columbus: Ohio Farm Bureau, 2015. ofbf.org/whats-in-season/peppers-bell.
National Center for Home Food Preservation. n.d. University of Georgia, College of Family and Consumer Sciences (website). Accessed June 28, 2021. nchfp.uga.edu.
University of Illinois Extension. n.d. Recipes from the trusted kitchen at Cornell Cooperative Extension: Stuffed Pepper Soup. Ithaca: Cornell University.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2020. fdc.nal.usda.gov