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Capsicum (Sweet Peppers)

Peppers

Although peppers are related to chillies, they are not hot - even the seeds. Red peppers are ripened green peppers and taste the sweetest. Yellow peppers are a different variety and are also delicious. Try roasted peppers. Cut into quarters, brush with olive oil, torn basil and seasoning and bake in a very hot oven for 30 minutes. Grilled peppers are another superb dish. Once grilled they can be skinned to reveal a soft, luxurious texture and added to salads.

To skin peppers, cut into quarters lengthways and grill, skin side up, until the skin is charred and evenly blistered. Place the pieces immediately into a plastic bag with tongs or a fork (so you don't burn yourself!) and close the top of the bag with a tie or a loose knot. Leave for a few minutes and then remove from the bag and the skin will peel off easily. (Thanks to The Vegetable Encyclopedia & Cookbook by Christine Ingram for that information.)

Peppers can be chopped and used raw in salads or cooked. The squat, dumpy 'bell' varieties are ideal for stuffing. Slice the tops off and remove the inner core and pith, and shake out the seeds. Fill with cooked rice or cous-cous mixed with ingredients such as chopped celery, onions, garlic, mushrooms, etc., which have been lightly sautéed and then simmered for about 10 minutes with chopped tomatoes. Bake at 180C (350F), Mark 4 for 35 to 40 minutes.

Anna Ross in her book Green Cuisine has a recipe for Red Pepper Soup! They are also an essential ingredient of ratatouille, stir fries and cold gazpacho soup. Or they can simply be fried with onions and garlic in olive oil.

The main varieties we grow are:

Mazurka

Green, "bell", variety which ripens to red and can be used at either stage. Green peppers have a fresh "raw" flavour, whilst the red ones are distinctly sweeter.

Sirtaki or Fiesta

Yellow, "bell", varieties. Fiesta is a new variety we are trialling this year and is grown from organic seed. They have a similar taste to red peppers.

Long Red Marconi & Long Yellow Ringo

Sweet peppers with long cone shaped fruits up to 8 inches long, with a mild sweet flavour. They certainly look spectacular! Taste good either raw or cooked.

Nardello Peppers

This year, for the first time, we are acting as "seed guardians" for two varieties of pepper to help preserve some of these "Heritage" seeds, which might otherwise be lost, as they are no longer available from normal seed companies. Nardello is a wrinkly thin red sweet pepper. It looks more like a long chili, but isn't hot.

Macedonian Sweet

Another Heritage Seed variety. It has a stubby fat, pointed appearance.


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