Harvesting and Using Bell Peppers

Harvesting and Using Bell Peppers
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Bell peppers are available in yellow, red, orange, purple, black and even a "chocolate" colored variety. Peppers, sweet and hot, all have similiar growing habits and traits to a certain extent. They need good air circulation, and mulch is certainly a plus in this hot weather. Keep them watered, but not soggy. If they are given conditions that are too dry they will become bitter.
Bell peppers can be harvested when they are a medium green color, but if you leave them on the plant to ripen and turn the color they are meant to be they will be much sweeter and better tasting! Harvest on a regular basis as they ripen so the plant will continue to produce.

If you are buying peppers at a produce department or a market, look for firm and brightly colored peppers-they shouldn't feel soft or have that slightly wrinkled look. Store them at 45-50 degrees-I store in the refrigerator, and if they are fresh they should last up to a week stored in plastic bags-sometimes longer. Wash just before using. Cut open and remove the seeds and membranes before eating.

If you are harvesting your own pepper plants be sure to clip off the peppers with garden clippers or scissors. Don't pull them off, or try to use your fingernail-it could damage the plant.

Bell peppers are wonderful served raw with vegetable dips, or cut up in salads. Add chopped bell peppers to soups, chili, tomato sauces, omelets, potato dishes, or pizza. The ideas are endless when using sweet peppers.

Roasted peppers are all the rage in SO many recipes and you can do this easily yourself. Cut the pepper in half lengthwise; remove the seeds and membranes. Place them cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake in a 425° oven or on a covered grill for about 20 minutes or until the skins are blistered and brown. Wrap the peppers in foil or place in a plastic bag and let them stand for 30 minutes to steam and they should peel easily.

Jennifer Reed, one of our contest visitors shared her favorite way of using peppers: I drizzle them with olive oil and put fresh basil, chives, salt and pepper on them and grill them on the patio grill. Yummy!

Here are more recipes you can try:

Red Pepper Soup


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large sweet onion, diced

8-10 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 (28 ounce) can chopped tomatoes in puree

9 cups chicken stock

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon herb or wine vinegar

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat until hot. Sauté the onion, peppers and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes. Add one cup of the stock and cook over high heat until reduced by one half. Add the tomatoes and remaining chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 25-30 minutes. Add last three ingredients. Serve as is, or you can use a blender and puree the soup as well. Reheat slowly if it's cools off too much and serve.

Tomatillo and Red Pepper Salsa


4 medium tomatillos, cooked, peeled

4 medium red bell peppers, seeded

1 small jalapeno pepper (or a hotter variety)

1/4 cup minced, fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon herb vinegar

Place everything in a blender or food processor and process til almost smooth, but leave it a little chunky is you wish. Season with salt.

Bell Pepper Salsa


3 bell peppers of assorted colors

1 medium fresh tomato

1 hot chile, your choice of variety

4 green onions

2 garlic cloves, peeled

2 tbsp. fresh Cilantro, chopped

1 tsp herb or wine vinegar

1 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Core the peppers. Dice the peppers, tomato, chile, green onions, and garlic very fine and combine all the vegetables. Add the cilantro. Stir in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Rosemary Pepper Chicken


2 tablespoons olive oil

12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 2-inch strips

3 bell peppers, assorted colors, cut into 3-inch strips

1 medium sweet onion, cut into 3-inch strips

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken; cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until it is lightly browned and cooked through. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a bowl and cover to keep warm. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add the bell pepper and onion strips; cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until tender. Reduce the heat to medium; add the cooked chicken, lemon juice, rosemary, and pepper; stir gently for about 1 minute, or until heated through. Taste and season.

Stuffed Green Peppers


3 bell peppers, any variety

1 pound ground round or chuck (can use ground turkey)

1 jar prepared chunky spaghetti sauce

1 1/3 cups French fried onions, divided

2 tablespoons cayenne pepper sauce

1/2 cup uncooked instant rice

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise through stems; discard seeds. Place pepper halves, cut side up, in 2-quart shallow baking dish; set aside. Brown meat in a large skillet, breaking up as it cooks. Drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce, 2/3 cup onions, hot sauce and rice. Spoon evenly into the pepper halves. Cover; bake 35 minutes or until peppers are tender. Uncover; sprinkle peppers with cheese and remaining 2/3 cup onions. Bake 1 minute or until onions are golden.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.


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