Yeah! Welcome to our colourful place. Capsicums come in different shapes, colours and sizes. We can be eaten raw or cooked. We’re the fun ones of the veggie world. Hey, let me tell you a little more about us capsicums – there's a lot to know.
We capsicums, or bell peppers as we're known in the USA, are closely related to the hot chillies, but we're sweeter tasting and not at all hot to eat. Most of us are glossy and smooth-skinned (10-12cm long by 6-10cm across). Some of roundish but others are long and tapered looking like a cow's horn or dagger. Our thick walls enclose a large hollow that has segments to which our seeds are attached. We come in a range of colours most commonly green, yellow, red and orange, or even black.
We're generally available all year round, with supplies being strong from October through to July and we are at our best value and most plentiful from January to March.
We're normally sold by our colour and sometimes our shape.
We grow on a medium-sized bush, up to 1 metre, which produces white flowers. We prefer a warm tropical climate and do not like extreme changes in the weather.
We form following pollination of the flower and are picked at the preferred colour stage – usually green or red. It takes 11 to 13 weeks from the time our parents are planted (as seedlings) for us to reach maturity.
Green capsicums are picked when they're ripe and have an all-over green appearance. If left on the bush for another week or two we will slowly change to a vibrant red colour.
Our parent plant is very brittle so care must be taken by the pickers when snapping us off from the bush.
Select those of us which are plump and firm, with glossy, unwrinkled skin. Avoid dull looking capsicum with soft spots or blemishes.
Store us in a recyclable plastic bag in the veggie crisper in your fridge. Use within 4-5 days.
We capsicums, along with our close relatives the chillies, come from tropical America and have been used for thousands of years. There is evidence from some historical sites that chillies have been used since about 7000 years BC. The first record of their cultivation was about 5000 BC.
The explorer Christopher Columbus took us from the West Indies back to Spain with him. From there we spread rapidly throughout Africa, India and Asia and then very much later to Australia. It was the European and Asian migrants to Australia who are responsible for our increased popularity over the past 20 years.
To prepare, simply remove the stem top, halve lengthways and remove the white ribs and seeds. Cut us into long thin strips, quarters or dice or roughly chop us.
We're great to eat raw cut into thin strips as a snack with your favourite dip. dips.
Add capsicum to all sorts of salads and slaws.
We become even sweeter when we are cooked.
We sizzle on the barbecue and can also be roasted, stir-fried or grilled.
Add capsicums to stir-fries, fried rice, tacos and soups.
Stuff halved capsicums and roast until sweet and tender.
Finely diced capsicum is also great in Bolognese sauce (sometimes that’s called a veggie smuggler)
To remove the skin, place skin-side up under a hot grill or in hot oven until skin blackens. Place in plastic bag until cool enough to peel skin off.
Check out these terrific capsicum recipes from Sydney Markets;