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Late sum­mer to early fall is a per­fect time to pick and high­light bell pep­pers. They tend to thrive in the hot Cal­i­for­nia sun, so the recent heat wave was not a deter­rent to these col­or­ful beau­ties.

Orig­i­nat­ing in South and Cen­tral Amer­ica, Colum­bus brought them back to Europe in the 15th cen­tury. They soon became culi­nary stars across the globe.

Bell pep­pers are part of the chile fam­ily. Unlike their spicier coun­ter­parts (ser­ra­nos, jalapeños and habaneros), they do not con­tain cap­saicin, the com­pound that gives chile pep­pers their heat.

At their peak in late sum­mer and early fall, bell pep­pers are avail­able in a rain­bow of col­ors. Their mild fla­vor and sat­is­fy­ing crunch make serv­ing them raw a pop­u­lar choice. Sal­ads and fresh veg­gie plates are dressed up with bright bell pep­per rings or juli­enned strips.

Roast­ing, grilling, bak­ing, or stir-​frying them brings out a deeper, sweeter taste. Their hol­low cav­ity and sturdy walls makes them ideal for stuff­ing. This menu appli­ca­tion seems to fit right in with the tran­si­tion of sum­mer to fall.

There are two major fac­tors that deter­mine a bell pepper’s color. One. The time of har­vest­ing and the degree of ripeness at har­vest time. Two. The pep­per vari­etal.

All bell pep­pers start out green and change color as they mature. If it’s not picked, a green pep­per may become yel­low, orange, or red, depend­ing on its vari­etal. The longer the fruit stays on the vine, the sweeter it becomes. Addi­tional time on the plant also means that more nutri­tional value is gained.

Since they were less ripe when picked, green bell pep­pers have a longer shelf life, but are less nutrient-​dense than bell pep­pers that have matured to other colors.

Avail­able in a range of vibrant col­ors — green, red, orange, yel­low, and pur­ple — these crisp, sweet veg­eta­bles are packed with health­ful ele­ments; vit­a­min C, vit­a­mins A, B6, E and phy­to­chem­i­cals.

Going back to world cuisines, its easy to find a stuffed bell recipe orig­i­nat­ing from Spain, Tunisia, Den­mark, Hun­gary and the Philip­pines. Not all of them are ground meat and onion based. Den­mark, for exam­ple, has a kale, bul­gur and mush­room stuffed pep­per ver­sion. Korea has a tofu stuffed pep­per (Gochu­jun), that is pan fried for extra bonus points.

Com­pat­i­ble and eas­ily acces­si­ble fill­ing ingre­di­ents for fall pep­pers: sweet corn, green onions, black beans, toma­toes, rice, mush­rooms, quinoa, shred­ded cheese, chopped herbs and cel­ery.

Farm­ers mar­kets, local farm stands, gro­cers and CSA boxes will be boast­ing of green and col­ored bell pep­pers in the next few weeks. Put them on the menu and in the meal rota­tion.

With so many vari­a­tions on the fill­ings, its easy to visit regions around the coun­try (Tex-​Mex, Cajun, Mid-​west) or an over­seas table.

Pick a peck of bell peppers.

To read the full Mar­ket Report, includ­ing this week’s mar­ket update, see below or click here.


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