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Florida Produce: Bell Peppers

October 19, 2009

This week’s Florida produce feature is all about the bell pepper. Confession time again… I am not a fan of bell peppers. In fact, one specific memory I have of them was eating stuffed green bell peppers as a kid. I loved the meat mixture in the middle of the bell pepper, but not the actual green bell pepper itself, it was gross. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t want to hurt my mom’sBell Peppers 3feelings, so I ate the bell pepper too, every time it was served for dinner.

Ever since then, I’ve had a hard time stomaching them. I can eat them if they are in something or are served to me, but I don’t truly like them. As for the rest of the bell pepper family, well they are all a little sweeter, so I don’t mind them as much.

Florida bell peppers are grown mainly in South Florida and are available from November to June. The peak months of availability are March & April. Florida mainly grows green, yellow and red bell peppers.

How to buy
Choose peppers that are heavy for their size, and that have bright, tight, smooth, glossy skin with no watery looking spots or wrinkly patches. Green peppers are often less sweet than yellow or red.

Tips for storage
Store bell peppers in a ventilated bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator for up to one week. It is okay to freeze bell peppers that have been cut. Peppers are one of those foods you can quickly freeze raw without blanching them first. Thawed, raw peppers still retain some crispness and can be used in cooked dishes or raw in uncooked dishes.

Cooking tips
To seed a bell pepper, hold it tightly and slam the stem end down on the counter. This will loosen the seed core and it should pull out easily. The skin can be peeled easily after the pepper has been lightly grilled, broiled or roasted.  These cooking methods will make the pepper sweet, tender and ready to use in salads and sauces. When stuffing peppers, try baking them in a muffin pan to help retain their shape.

Flavors well with
Steaks, salad, sausage, basil, oregano, thyme

And because each post is better with a delicious, mouth watering recipe, I give you the Florida Sweet Pepper and Beef Steak Sandwich. I’ve had it and it is good (even with the bell peppers!). Click on the image to go the recipe. Happy eating!


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