Sweet peppers are native to South America. The Spaniards in Mexico discovered them in the early part of the 16th century. It was not until the 20th century that these vegetables became popular throughout Europe particularly in the Mediterranean countries. Peppers and chillies are both members of the capsicum family. To distinguish between them, peppers are called sweet peppers, bell peppers and even bullnose peppers. They come in a variety of colours – red, green,yellow, white, orange, and purple-black. The colour of the pepper tells you something about its flavour. Green peppers are the least mature and have a fresh “raw” flavour. Red peppers are ripened green peppers and are distinctly sweeter. They add colour and zest to salads and cooked dishes. Yellow and orange peppers are similar to red peppers although a little less sweet. Black peppers are similar in taste to green peppers and turn green when cooked. Peppers are rich in Vitamin C and red peppers are rich in Vitamin A. Peppers are also a source of Vitamin B6 andfolic acid.

Nutritional Value

Nutrient Raw Green Raw Red Raw Yellow
Energy kJ 65 134 113
Kcal 15 32 26
Protein g 0.8 1.0 1.2
Carbohydrate g 2.6 6.4 5.3
Fat g 0.3 0.4 0.2

A good source of…

Nutrient Raw Green Raw Red Raw Yellow
Vitamin A One Tick One TickOne TickOne TickOne Tick One Tick
Vitamin C One TickOne TickOne TickOne Tick One TickOne TickOne TickOne Tick One TickOne TickOne TickOne Tick
Vitamin B6 One Tick One Tick One Tick
Folic Acid One Tick One Tick

For more information on nutrition and the details given above, check out our nutrition page.

Preparing and Using

Sweet peppers should be stored in a cool place between 7°C and 10°C and used as soon as possible after purchase. Green peppers are best for short-term keeping. Peppers kept in plastic bags have a longer shelf-life and remain fresh longer as they suffer less water loss.Where freezing is concerned sweet peppers differ from many vegetables in that they can be stored unblanched for up to 6 months and maintain their colour better when not blanched.Peppers that have been blanched can be stored for up to 1 year in the freezer.

When buying peppers choose ones that look glossy and feel hard and crisp. Avoid any that look wrinkled or have damp patches. Before cooking or preparing peppers for salads, the inside seeds and membrane of the peppers need to be removed.

There are countless ways of cooking peppers.Sliced, they can be fried with onions and garlic and then braised with tomatoes and herbs to form a basic ratatouille. They can be sprinkled with olive oil and roasted or can be grilled and skinned and added to salads. (To skin peppers put them into a plastic bag after they have been grilled until the skin is charred. Close the top of the bag and leave it for a few minutes.The skins will be easy to remove when the peppers are taken out of the bag).

Peppers can be stuffed with vegetable, herb and rice fillings, baked and served as a starter or as a vegetarian dish. They can be served raw in salads or as crudités with dips and dressings. They add colour and texture as well as flavour to salads such as rice salad.Peppers can be puréed and served as a sauce or coulis or used to flavour butter or mayonnaise.

Skewered with a selection of other vegetables they can be grilled to serve as vegetarian kebabs or as a vegetable side dish with barbecues. They can be added to fillings used in sandwiches, panini, burritos, fajitas, tortillas and other similar “wraps”. Their bright colour makes them very attractive as a garnish for dishes and displays.

Chopped and sliced they can be added to stews, soups and casseroles as well as making tasty soups themselves. They can be used as a topping for pizza and as an ingredient in red pesto. They can be added to lots of dishes such as omelettes and frittatas and are used to make chutneys, relishes, and to flavour oils. Dipped in batter and deep-fried they can be served with a garlic dip as a snack or starter. For an alternative breakfast dish fry peppers with garlic and add tomato purée and basil. Spoon the mixture into single-serving ovenproof dishes. Make a well in the middle of each one and break an egg into it befores prinkling with a little cream and baking for about 12 minutes.


For some pepper recipes, visit the Bord Bia website here

Sizzling Beef with Stir-Fried Vegetables and Black Bean Sauce

This is a perfect mid-week meal, as it should take you no longer than fifteen minutes to prepare and get on the table. Use any selection of vegetables you fancy for this stir-fry, depending on what is available.

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Whole Baked Trout with Roast Mediterranean Vegetables

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