Foods A-Z: Peppers

Peppers come from the Capsicum genus of plants, a member of the nightshade family, like tomatoes. Peppers originated in the Americas and have become grown around the world for culinary uses.

Peppers are edible, both raw and cooked. They are often diced into small pieces or roasted whole and stuffed with cheese or rice. They can be pickled, dried, or frozen. Peppers are often used to make jam, salsa, powders, and flakes. They are often added to salads, stews, soups, sauces, and salsas.

Types of Peppers

There are two main types of peppers called Bell Peppers and Chili Peppers.

Bell Peppers are also known as sweet peppers. The colors of these peppers include red, green, yellow, and sometimes orange. They are most often used in salads, atop pizzas, and for stuffing with other ingredients before being oven-baked.

Chili Peppers are sometimes known as ‘chilli peppers’. They are used around the world as a spice for adding heat to dishes. There are reported to be thousands of varieties of chili pepper and their heat is individually measured on the Scoville scale.

Varieties of Peppers

Whereas there are only two main types of pepper, there are in fact thousands of varieties of peppers. Especially chili peppers.

Popular Peppers –

Some of the most popular varieties of peppers include: Bell Peppers, Amarillo Peppers, Poblano Peppers, Jalapeño Peppers, and Chipotle Peppers.

Types of Hot Peppers –

Pepper:Scoville Rating:
Bird’s eye50,000-100,000
Carolina Reaper1,500,000-3,000,000+
Scotch Bonnet100,000-350,000

Availability Of Peppers

Peppers such as the Bell Pepper, Jalapeño Pepper, and Chipotle Peppers are widely available worldwide because of both popularity and the ease of growing them in diverse climates.

Other peppers, especially chili peppers such as the Pasila can be challenging to acquire in many regions of the United States, and other countries. This can be due to a lack of demand or because of seasonal or climate restrictions on growing them.

In many cases, there are cuisine-specific recipes that call for a specific Chili pepper to be used. Often, these are not available and a substitution is required.

Chili pepper substitutes commonly required:

Sometimes this list includes Peppadew Peppers, Guajillo chili, and Cubanelle substitutions as well.

Pepper FAQs:

Are peppers a fruit or vegetable?

Botanically speaking, peppers are a fruit. However, in culinary terms, they are accepted as a vegetable.

What foods are similar to peppers?

The most similar foods to peppers come from the nightshade family, which peppers are also a part of. This includes tomatoes, potatoes (excluding sweet potatoes), eggplant, and tomatillos.