Red Pepper can describe several varieties of peppers, though most often it is used to describe hot peppers used in Mexican or Asian cooking. It can also refer to a ripened variety of bell (green) peppers, often used to make roasted red peppers.
Bell peppers, also known as sweet peppers, are like the Christmas ornaments of the vegetable world since they are beautifully shaped, glossy in appearance and come in a variety of vivid colors such as green, red, yellow, orange, purple, brown and black. Despite their varied palette, all are the same plant, known scientifically as Capsicum annuum, and are members of the nighstshade family, which also includes potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant.
Selecting and Buying
Preparation and Use
Most of the heat in red peppers is found in the seeds and white ribs around them. To decrease the heat in fresh peppers while still retaining the flavor, only use the red meat of the pepper and discard the rest.
Use a paring knife to cut around the stem and then gently remove it. Peppers can be cut into various shapes and sizes. To easily chop, dice or cut the peppers into strips, first cut the pepper in half lengthwise, clean out the core and seeds, and then, after placing the skin side down on the cutting surface, cut into the desired size and shape. Peppers can also be cut horizontally into rings or left whole for stuffed peppers after carefully removing the seeds from the inner cavity.
Conserving and Storing
Many red peppers can be found in the spice section of the grocery store, dried and ground, such as cayenne, chili powder, red pepper flakes. Most peppers do very well being dried whole.
Unwashed sweet peppers stored in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator will keep for up to one week. Sweet peppers can be frozen without first being blanched. It is better to freeze them whole since there will be less exposure to air which can degrade both their nutrient content and flavor.