|Red, yellow and green bell peppers.|
Ideal growing conditions for bell peppers include warm soil, ideally 21 to 29 °C (70 to 84 °F), that is kept moist but not waterlogged. Bell peppers are sensitive to an abundance of moisture and extreme temperatures.
The misleading name "pepper" was given by Christopher Columbus upon bringing the plant back to Europe. At that time, peppercorns, the fruit of an unrelated plant originating from India, Piper nigrum, was a highly prized condiment; the name "pepper" was at that time applied in Europe to all known spices with a hot and pungent taste and so naturally extended to the newly discovered Capsicum genus. The most commonly used alternative name of the plant family, "chile", is of Mexican origin, from the Nahuatl word chilli or xilli. Bell peppers are botanically fruits, but are generally considered in culinary contexts to be vegetables.
While the bell pepper is a member of the Capsicum genus, it is the only Capsicum that does not produce capsaicin, a lipophilic chemical that can cause a strong burning sensation when it comes in contact with mucous membranes. (An exception to this is the hybrid variety Mexibelle, which does contain a moderate level of capsaicin, and is therefore somewhat hot). The lack of capsaicin in bell peppers is due to a recessive form of a gene that eliminates capsaicin and, consequently, the "hot" taste usually associated with the rest of the Capsicum genus.
Most often bell peppers are green, yellow, orange, and red (between stages of ripening). More rarely,
|Peppers in five colors|
Capsicum peppers are rich sources of antioxidants and vitamin C. The level of carotene, like lycopene, is nine times higher in red peppers. Red peppers have twice the vitamin C content of green peppers.
Red and green bell peppers are high in para-coumaric acid.
The characteristic aroma of green peppers is caused by 3-isoButyl-2-methoxypyrazine (IBMP). Its detection threshold in water is estimated to be 2 ng/L. The same chemical is responsible for characteristic Cabernet Sauvignon green note.