Peppers: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know April 6, 2021
We know, we know. Peppers? Really? Hear us out. Peppers are the backbone, the workhorse, the unsung hero, of the recipe world. How much do you really know about the capsicums you unbox from HelloFresh each week? Come along as we break down our 5 most popular peppers, from sweet to hot and everything in between.
Peppers are about as versatile as a veg gets. They shine in spicy stir-fries and rich risottos, on pizzas and sandwiched into subs; they’re great charred or pickled, stuffed or sautéed, to infinity and beyond. Peppers are a member of the nightshade family, along with tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants. (P.S. Did you know that because they have seeds, peppers are technically a FRUIT!? Just don’t add to your cobbler unless you want dirty looks…) Their heat-level is measured using Scoville units, a mysterious unit of spiciness measurement. To put it simply, the scale ranges from 0 (as in snackable bell peppers) to 2,000,000+ (as in the terror-inducing Carolina Reaper). Don’t worry, while our hottest pepper is definitely spicy, it only ranges from 50,000 to 100,000!
In this guide to peppers, we’ll let you know about all the varieties we use at HelloFresh: their taste and heat-level, how to use them, and recipes where they really shine. Time to put a little pep in your step!
You know ’em, you love ’em. From crudité platters to fajitas to ratatouille, bell peppers are everywhere. They’re big, bright, and juicy, coming in almost every color of the rainbow. (Look out for purple, white, and even a stripey, fire-colored blend of red, yellow, and orange!) Each color signifies a different “maturity,” or ripeness level, with red being the ripest and sweetest, and green being the least ripe, with an almost grassy flavor.
Each color lends well to different applications. We love roasting or grilling ROYs (reds, oranges, and yellows) until lightly charred to enhance and deepen their sweetness. Greens are great for super savory meals—think pizza, chili, or with Italian sausage. They’re also used as part of the “holy trinity”, along with celery and onions in New Orleans’ magical mirepoix.
Long Green Pepper
These mild peps are light green, glossy, and, as the name suggests, long and slender. They’ve got thin walls, making them delightfully crunchy when raw and super quick-cooking. Long green peppers are savory on their own, but pair perfectly with a sweet counterpart like tomato sauce or a tangle of sauteéd onion. They range from 0-1000 on the Scoville scale, making them a bit punchier than a bell, but still very mild. LGPs (colloquially known as “Italian frying peppers”) are often used in pastas, pizzas, and subs—but that’s not all they’re good for! Keep whole, slice crosswise into rings, or slice lengthwise into strips, and the sky’s the limit: stuff ’em like you would manicotti, stir-fry them with beef, or pair with potatoes for a delicious breakfast hash.
These earthy, forest green peppers are a favorite in the HelloFresh kitchen. Poblanos range from 1,000–2,000 Scoville units, but they’re typically fairly mellow. Poblanos are commonly picked when green, but do turn red and get hotter as they fully ripen. Fun fact: Once red poblanos are dried, they’re known as ancho chiles! We love using the pulverised version—ancho chili powder—to bring slightly spicy, smoky flavor to chilis, pan sauces, and even sloppy joes. Poblanos are fairly large, sometimes even bigger than a bell pepper (!), which makes them a great candidate for stuffing. They’re a staple in Mexican cuisine, from creamy rajas to chiles rellenos. Poblanos truly shine in savory applications, especially when paired with dairy (read: CHEESE!).
Jalapeños are ubiquitous: You’ll find them raw in salsas, pickled and strewn over nachos, flecked in pepper jack cheese, stuffed with cream cheese and deep fried, in chilis and cornbread…you name it. They’re smooth, medium-sized, and vibrant green in color. Jalapeños add a garden-fresh heat to anything they touch. Like poblanos, the ripe, red variety is smoke and dried into chipotle chiles. Jalapeños are quite spicy, ranging from 2,500-8,000 on the Scoville scale. Since that’s such a wide range, we like to test each jalapeño’s spiciness in a very scientific way: by tasting it! Before adding to your dish with abandon, nibble on a piece. Then, add as much or as little as you like. Additionally, we recommend removing the ribs and seeds (that’s where most of the heat lives) before fully prepping if you want to quell the spice. Raw, roasted, sautéed, charred, or pickled—you really can’t go wrong.
If you’re a heat seeker, this petit pepper, sometimes known as a “Thai chili”, is for you. Despite its size, this little dude packs a spicy PUNCH! You may receive a green or red chili in your HelloFresh box, or you may even get a tie-dyed one. Again, the color signifies maturity (though the taste difference is minimal in this case). Basically, no matter the color, it’s going to add some serious oomph to your dish. When handling a chili pepper, protect your skin by wearing gloves, or wash your hands immediately after. Remember to avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, after touching a chili pepper. (If any of you have been there before, you know we mean it!)
We highly recommend (read: urge) adding chopped chili to taste. This way, you can completely customize the component or the overall dish to your liking. Start with a small pinch and add more from there if desired. We especially love chili pepper in curries and dipping sauces (try it paired with atop crispy chicken…you can thank us later), atop stir-fries or rice bowls, or even sprinkled on sandwiches for a kick. Get ready for a totally *fire* upgrade to any dish.
Interested in using peppers beyond dinner? Try our Cucumber Jalapeño Margarita here.