There is archaeological evidence of wild peppers being cultivated for human consumption as far back as 5000 BC.
Chili peppers were thought, for centuries, to have originated in India, but they actually come from South America.
By the late 16th century, peppers were used in all regions of the world, especially in Europe and India.
There are many different varieties of peppers. They come in all shapes, colours and sizes. However, there are two main types:
Peppers are very high in vitamins A and C. The beta-carotene and lycopene content, especially in mature red fruits, means the pepper has antioxidant properties and has been proven to act on free radicals in the body.
Red peppers contain twice the amount of vitamin as green peppers.
Peppers also help the body absorb iron and calcium and are a beneficial food for convalescing patients. The inner white pulpy part is often discarded but is edible and contains a supply of flavonoids, which again has anti-oxidant properties.
Chili peppers should be eaten in moderation, especially if you have a delicate stomach or aren’t used to hot spicy foods.
Peppers can be store for a few days in the salad compartment of the fridge, but any longer and they will start to deteriorate. Peppers don’t freeze well as they contain a lot of water. However, chilli peppers can be dried successfully.
Dry in a home-dryer or in a very cool oven for a couple of hours. Lay on trays and turn from time to time. Leave the oven door jar if possible. Try not to actually cook them.
Growing peppers is really satisfying, especially chili peppers that are decorative as well as organically delish! I like the idea of trying lots of different varieties and I found this pack on Amazon (UK)
Mr Fothergill’s 19235 Vegetable Seeds, Peppers Collection
“Pack includes antohi Romanian (sweet), golden bell (sweet), friggitello (sweet) seeds
Also includes jalapeno (hot), Hungarian hot wax (hot) and red cherry (hot) seeds”
Growing note: Generally, you will need fewer chili pepper plants as they produce many chili peppers, as oppose to sweet pepper plants which will produce fewer fruits.
But decide on what you and your family will eat. If you don’t use hot spices in your food very often, just grow one or two chili pepper plants.
Ideas on this page mostly taken from this fabulously helpful growing guide
How to Grow Peppers (updated edition)
Available from onlne bookstores over at our Mini Guides page