A popular vegetable that adds color to many cold and hot dishes.
Paprika is an essential part of our menu.
Compared to most other crops, it stands out not only for its color range, but also for its taste, from sweet to hot.
Do you know the difference between different colors?
Are paprika and capsicum the same thing?
What health problems can chili peppers help you with?
Let’s learn more about this tasty vegetable.
Peppers as vegetables
When we think of the word paprika, we usually think of two different meanings – vegetable and spice. As far as vegetables are concerned, peppers, like tomatoes and potatoes, are members of the eggplant family. The range of types and varieties of peppers, which differ from each other in size, shape, color and taste, is very wide.
All peppers that can be found on store shelves are variants of the economically most important type of bell pepper (Capsicum annuum), sometimes also referred to as annual pepper. This species stands out for its wide range of varieties, the most famous being sweet capsicums and hot chili peppers.
By the way, many people mistakenly consider the pepper fruits that we eat to be pods due to their shape. But from a botanical point of view, it is a berry.
Why do some varieties of peppers burn? We associate a sharp taste mainly with hot peppers or chili peppers, but in reality, most varieties of peppers can be hot, except capsicums.
The burning sensation is caused by a substance called capsaicin, which stimulates the receptors of the nerve endings of the tongue. The degree of burning depends on the content of this substance, which is measured in units of the Scoville scale, or SCU.
- Sweet Peppers – 0 SCUs
- Mildly hot peppers – 100 to 1500 SCU, such as cherry peppers, often called hot peppers
- Medium-hot peppers – 1500 to 100,000 SCUs, such as jalapeño peppers
- Very hot peppers – 100,000 to 500,000 SCU, different varieties of chili peppers, such as habareno or Thai chili peppers
The Guinness Book of Records lists the Carolina Reaper hybrid chili pepper, which was grown in the United States, as the hottest pepper, with a measured heat of 2,200,000 SCU units.
Types and varieties of peppers
While botanically most peppers are members of the same species, bell peppers, most of us differentiate between different peppers simply by their color or flavor.
A variety that is exceptional for its sweet taste. Unlike many other varieties, it does not contain capsaicin. In addition to the taste, it is also distinguished from other varieties by its size, the capsicums tend to be much larger and more bulbous.
They are grown in a variety of colors, the three most common being dark green, red and yellow. However, their combination or orange, burgundy or brown colors are also possible. Along with some other non-hot varieties, capsicum Latin Capsicum annuum L. var. grossum sometimes belongs to the group of so-called sweet peppers.
Chili peppers or hot peppers
Varieties of peppers with fruits of varying intensity. Due to the fact that in the past, powder from dried chili peppers was used as a substitute for pepper, we can also find it called cayenne pepper. But there are also opinions that this designation arose from a mistranslation of the English word pepper, which can mean both pepper and paprika. Their fruits are usually smaller, narrow and pointed.
The color of the chili pepper can be green, yellow, orange or red, while it does not affect the intensity of heat. From a botanical point of view, different varieties belong not only to the type of sweet pepper, but also to the bush pepper (Capsicum frutescens) or Chinese pepper (Capsicum chinense).
Goat or ram horn
A variety of bell pepper that got its name based on its shape, which resembles the horn of these animals. There are different colored non-burning and burning variants. They can be eaten raw, but they are especially suitable for pickling and preservation.
Why is it good to know the colors of paprika?
As we have already indicated, different varieties of peppers come in a variety of colors, which usually do not say anything about their taste or hotness. Nevertheless, different color variants of the same pepper variety differ from each other. What? Contains some useful substances. The various colors of peppers are related to the content of carotenoids and anthocyanins, which are attributed many health-promoting properties.
While capsicums mainly have an intense dark green color, other pepper varieties have a light to medium green color. What green peppers have in common is that they contain a larger amount of folic acid, which belongs to group B vitamins.
This vitamin is very important for proper hematopoiesis and nucleic acid synthesis. It also has a positive effect on the development of the nervous system of the fetus, which is why its sufficient amount is important for pregnant women. Last but not least, it is stated that the consumption of green peppers also has a positive effect on our psychological well-being.
Yellow and orange bell pepper
If you have a weakness for yellow and orange peppers, they will benefit your eyes, as they contain increased amounts of two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, which have a very positive effect on our eyesight.
Red bell pepper
Red pepper contains a relatively large amount of beta-carotene, or provitamin A, which helps our skin, protecting it from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays, and at the same time strengthens our immune system.
Another beneficial substance found in red pepper in larger quantities is rutin. It has a positive effect on our blood vessels, helping to keep them flexible. In addition, in red peppers, but this generally applies to all colors of peppers, we find a large amount of vitamin C.
Mostly oblong non-hot varieties with thin flesh. The mixture of antioxidants and p-coumaric acid found in them makes them an effective helper in the fight against colds. Supposedly, it can also reduce fever.
The following table shows the different content of vitamins and minerals depending on the color of the pepper.
| Green pepper|
| Yellow pepper|
| Red bell pepper|
|Beta-carotene||208 µg||120 µg||1620 µg|
|Vitamin B1||0.057 mg||0.028 mg||0.054 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.028 mg||0.025 mg||0.085 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.48 mg||0.89 mg||0.979 mg|
|Folic acid||10 µg||26 µg||46 µg|
|Vitamin B6||0.224 mg||0.168 mg||0.291|
|Vitamin C||80.4 mg||184 mg||128 mg|
|Potassium||175 mg||212 mg||211 mg|
|Phosphorus||20 mg||24 mg||26 mg|
|Magnesium||10 mg||12 mg||12 mg|
|Sodium||3 mg||2 mg||4 mg|
|Calcium||10 mg||11 mg||7 mg|
|Zinc||0.13 mg||0.17 mg||0.25 mg|
|Iron||0.34 mg||0.46 mg||0.43 mg|
Nutritional values, vitamins and minerals in peppers
The largest proportion of raw peppers is of course water, depending on the variety approximately 90%. Chili peppers have a higher caloric value compared to capsicums, which is due to their higher carbohydrate content. On the other hand, we never eat too many of them at once. In terms of vitamins, peppers are generally very rich in vitamin C in particular, they contain more vitamin C than oranges and lemons.
| Chilli pepper|
| Chilli pepper|
|Energy||20 calories||28 kcal||40 calories||40 calories|
|Water||93.9 g||91.9 g||87.7 g||88 g|
|Carbohydrates||4.64 g||6.7 g||9.46 g||8.81 g|
|Proteins||0.86 g||0.92 g||2 g||1.87 g|
|Fats||0.17 g||0.2 g||0.2 g||0.44 g|
|Fiber||1.7 g||1.2 g||1.5 g||1.5 g|
| Chilli pepper|
| Chilli pepper|
|Beta-carotene||208 µg||264||671 µg||534 µg|
|Vitamin B1||0.057 mg||0.059 mg||0.09 mg||0.072 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.028 mg||0.03 mg||0.09 mg||0.086 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.48 mg||0.477 mg||0.95 mg||1.24 mg|
|Vitamin B5||0.099 mg||0.079 mg||0.061 mg||0.201 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.224 mg||0.233 mg||0.278 mg||0.506 mg|
|Vitamin C||80.4 mg||74.4 mg||242 mg||144 mg|
|Potassium||175 mg||166 mg||340 mg||322 mg|
|Phosphorus||20 mg||18 mg||46 mg||43 mg|
|Magnesium||10 mg||10 mg||25 mg||23 mg|
|Sodium||3 mg||2 mg||7 mg||9 mg|
|Calcium||10 mg||9 mg||18 mg||14 mg|
|Zinc||0.13 mg||0.12 mg||0.3 mg||0.26 mg|
|Iron||0.34 mg||0.46 mg||1.2 mg||1.03 mg|
Peppers and their effects on health
Peppers contain a wide range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, so their regular consumption has a number of positive effects on our body. What specifically?
- Eye health – lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids found in relatively large amounts in peppers, have been shown to improve eye health. Studies confirm that they help protect against cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Prevention of anemia – anemia is a condition characterized by a reduced ability of the blood to carry oxygen. One of the most common causes is iron deficiency, the main symptoms of which are weakness and fatigue. With their iron and vitamin C content, peppers help prevent anemia. The absorption of iron from the diet is significantly increased if you consume fruits or vegetables with a high content of vitamin C. For this reason, you can also consume raw peppers together with other foods rich in iron, for example red meat or spinach.
- Weight reduction – hot peppers in particular can help with weight loss. The consumption of capsaicin causes our body to heat up more and the result is more energy and calories burned. Eating chili peppers also positively accelerates metabolism.
- Cardiovascular disease – peppers contain the antioxidant lycopene and also a large amount of beta-carotene, both of these substances are beneficial for our heart and blood vessels, and they also benefit from the content of rutin. In addition, the capsaicin found in hot peppers has been found to help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Cancer prevention – peppers contain a large amount of antioxidants that help fight free radicals and oxidative stress. Thus, they are one of the foods whose consumption is recommended as cancer prevention. Observational studies have reported an association between the consumption of peppers and a lower incidence of prostate, bladder and cervical cancer.
- Immune system and digestive system – due to the high content of vitamin C and other substances, regular consumption of peppers strengthens our immune system. Peppers benefit the digestive system not only thanks to fiber, but also capsaicin, which helps destroy some harmful bacteria in our stomach or intestines.
Is paprika better raw or cooked?
The answer depends on the type of pepper and on what valuable substances you want to add to your body by consuming it. The truth is that cooking, for example, destroys a large percentage of the vitamin C contained, depending on the length of the heat treatment and its intensity, up to 60% is reported.
For this reason, it is definitely better to give preference to eating paprika raw. However, if you are concerned with the carotenoid lycopene, which also has a number of positive effects on our body, it is better to consume heat-treated peppers. Our body can use it better this way.
Can peppercorns be eaten?
Peppers are hollow inside when cut, usually divided into several parts by the white flesh, and there are pepper seeds on the ribs. We usually remove them before consumption. The reason is both aesthetics and their often somewhat bitter taste.
Otherwise, pepper seeds are edible and their consumption will not cause you any health problems. Kernels should ideally be white in color, if they are brown or black, their consumption is not recommended. In hot varieties, the seeds and white parts inside the fruit also burn.
How to eat peppers?
Peppers can be consumed both raw and variously heat-treated, by cooking, baking or stewing. They combine very well not only with other types of vegetables, but also with meat or fish. When handling hot peppers or chili peppers, remember that the hot substances they contain can irritate the eyes and skin. It is often recommended to use gloves when preparing them.
Colorful peppers add appeal to any dish. In addition, raw fresh capsicums are also very juicy. In addition to the fact that you can eat them as part of a vegetable side dish, they can also be used to prepare a number of pepper salads , in which the main ingredient can be not only raw peppers, but also roasted or grilled ones.
Their taste is especially well combined with other vegetables, such as tomatoes, as well as with various cheeses and herbs. You can cut the peppers in the salad into strips, rounds or cubes, it just depends on your personal preferences.
Roasted peppers don’t just have to be a great appetizer or side dish for meat, but they can then be used in the kitchen to prepare many interesting dishes. They can be used for a tasty spread or soup, baked stuffed peppers also taste delicious, recipes made from roasted peppers will never disappoint you.
In general, peppers should be baked at a high temperature of at least 200°C, the baking time varies depending on the size and type of pepper. You can tell when the peppers are ready by the fact that they are soft, toasted and blistered on their skin.
When we think of stuffed peppers, most of us think of those with a mixture of ground meat served in tomato sauce. But this is only one possibility, there are many variants of how and with what to fill pepper pods . You can fill peppers not only with meat, but also with cheese, mushrooms or a mixture of other vegetables, in addition to cooking, you can also bake them or even pickle them.
Pepper, and in this case not only as a vegetable, but also in the form of a spice, you can also use it in recipes for traditional Hungarian paprika . In addition to the classic form with beef, pork or chicken, there is also a vegetarian mushroom version. Another summer dish that can’t be done without paprika is lečo.
Do you know how to prepare a real Hungarian lecho ? It is only a mixture of vegetables, especially peppers, tomatoes and onions, unlike the Czech version, you won’t find eggs or sausage in it. Chili lovers often add them to a variety of dishes, but traditionally, hot peppers cannot be missing in a variety of chili con carne recipes .
You may be surprised to learn that just as often as cucumbers are pickled and pickled, peppers are also pickled and pickled, both hot and mild. Peppers can be preserved either on their own or with other vegetables, they complement especially well with tomatoes. Do you know how to easily cook peppers in the microwave or oven?
How to remove the skin from peppers?
Some recipes require us to remove the thin skin from the peppers. There is nothing difficult about it. All you have to do is put the peppers in a hot oven and wait until they start to form bubbles on their surface. Then remove the peppers and cool them down in ice water. The peel can then be easily removed.
Together with tomatoes and cucumbers, peppers are among the most commonly grown types of vegetables in our gardens. Since they come from warm countries, they do especially well in the greenhouse. However, some varieties can also be grown in flower beds. In recent years, chili peppers and some varieties of sweet peppers have also penetrated balconies and terraces, as they can also be grown in pots.
How to grow your own peppers?
Peppers are grown from seeds, either purchased or obtained from your favorite pepper. The seeds must first be allowed to germinate and pre-grow seedlings. In general, the seeds are planted around mid-March, they require enough light, heat and moisture.
If you grow peppers in a greenhouse, you can transplant the seedlings already in the second half of April, if you want to put them outside in the flower bed, wait until the second half of May, when there is no threat of morning frosts. Peppers benefit from a place with plenty of sun, which is protected from, for example, gusts of wind.
Like tomatoes, peppers also need support to grow. The best way to tell when the fruit is ripe is by its color and size. Most varieties of peppers are harvested from July to September.
How to grow peppers in an apartment?
Peppers can be grown relatively easily in apartments, not only on the balcony, but even outside the window. Due to their thermophilic nature, they do best on windows facing south or east. Shorter varieties that can be grown in flower pots or boxes are more suitable.
The following pepper varieties are suitable for home cultivation:
- Balkonovka – an early variety of sweet pepper, which is also suitable for growing on the balcony, the fruits are red in color
- Slavana F1 – variety of green sweet pepper, again suitable for growing in apartments
- Artist or Saturn – varieties of goat horns
- Volante Mild Yellow – overhanging pepper with yellow fruits suitable for hanging containers
- Raduza F1 – dark red pepper
- Amyka F1 – white sweet pepper
- Spicy F1 – light green hot pepper
- Loco, Border, Chinese Ornamental – varieties of chili peppers suitable for growing in an apartment
Storage of peppers
Peppers do not like the cold very much, in general they should not be stored at temperatures below 10°C. In the refrigerator, it is best to store them in the vegetable drawer, if you know that you will use the pepper within three days, but it is better to leave it at room temperature.
Chili peppers are best consumed raw as soon as possible, due to their small size, they dry out quickly. For this reason, it is usually dried this way. In addition, peppers can also be frozen.
How to dry chili peppers?
Chillies can be dried relatively easily in three ways. The sliced peppers can be left to dry outside in the sun, depending on the weather they are usually dried in three days. It is necessary to rotate the peppers during drying.
In a simple way, peppers can also be dried in an oven preheated to 60-80°C or in an electric food dryer at a temperature of around 40°C. You can tell a dried chili pepper by the fact that it can easily be crushed between your fingers.
The origin of peppers
Peppers, just like potatoes, tomatoes and corn, we owe to the discovery of America. The Mayans, Aztecs, Incas and many other Indian tribes cultivated peppers long before the arrival of colonists. It is believed that pepper was domesticated as early as 6000 years ago.
It is said that the first peppers were brought to Spain as early as 1493, but until the 19th century they were mainly grown as an ornamental plant. From Europe, peppers soon spread to Asia and Africa. China is currently the largest producer of peppers, followed by Turkey, Indonesia and the United States of America.
Where does paprika belong?
Sweet pepper, or Capsicum annuum, belongs to the eggplant family, originally from the region of present-day Mexico and northern South America.
It is a perennial plant that, depending on the variety, takes the form of a bush approximately half a meter to a meter high. But it is mostly grown as an annual. The flowers are usually white or slightly yellowish in color. The fruit is a berry, the shape of which resembles a pod, after ripening the fruit can have a whole palette of colors.