The red, yellow and orange varieties are sweeter than the green, with red peppers rich in vitamins A and C, and green peppers rich in vitamin C and folic acid. Choose firm, evenly coloured fruit and avoid any that have soft patches or look wrinkled. Season-wise, you will find them at their best from March to October.
Uses: In salads, stir-fries and for stuffing.
To store: Keep refrigerated after purchase, but bring to room temperature before use.
To prepare: Wash before use. If they are to be stuffed, slice off a lid and scoop out the seeds with a spoon or cut in half, lengthways. They can also be diced or quartered, or cut into rings. To skin peppers, cut them into quarters and grill, skin side up until the skins blacken and char. Place the peppers in a plastic bag and seal it. Leave the peppers for a few minutes then remove from the bag and the skins will peel off easily.
Preserved sweet and spicy mild red peppers. Peppadew peppers originate from South Africa and are sold in 375g jars in Waitrose.
Uses: Peppadew peppers can be added to a variety of savoury dishes including salads, omelettes and stir fries. The preserving juice can also be used in marinades or salad dressings.
To store: Keep in a cool, dry place. Refrigerate after opening and consume within 8 weeks. Eat by the best before date.
To prepare: Drain the peppers, reserving the preserving juice if required, and either leave whole or chop.
A long, narrow bright red fresh pepper, weighing around 100g, with a sweet-flavoured flesh and a tender skin.
Uses: Romano peppers are ideal for stuffing and roasting (this softens the flesh and concentrates the flavour). A variety of fillings can be used including cream cheese, butter bean and chilli; cooked rice with mushrooms, ham and red onion or cooked chicken or turkey mixed with sweetcorn, crumbled Cheshire cheese and pesto. Serve the cooked peppers with a sauce such as tomato or cheese or a tangy salsa, and salad.
To store: Keep refrigerated after purchase and use within 3 days.
To prepare: Wash before use. To prepare the peppers for stuffing, slice off a lid leaving the stalk intact and remove the seeds and core using a small sharp knife and a teaspoon. Spoon the stuffing into the cavity and press down firmly using a teaspoon. Lay on a greased baking sheet, season and drizzle with olive oil.
To cook: Preheat the oven to 180„aC, gas mark 4. Roast the peppers for 30 minutes or until the flesh is tender.
Sold in jars, caramelised peppers are a sweet and sour mixture of red and yellow peppers flavoured with sugar, vinegar, spices and chilli.
Uses: Serve as an accompaniment to fish, cheeses and cold meats.
To store: Keep in a cool dry place and once opened keep in the fridge for up to 6 months.
Hot pepper sauce (Tabasco sauce)
A hot chilli sauce made from small yellow Tabasco chilli peppers, vinegar and salt in Louisiana in America. It is a convenient way of adding a spicy, chilli flavour to dishes without having to chop fresh chillies and the flavour is absorbed more readily than chilli powder. Use the sauce sparingly - just a few drops can add a strong flavour.
Uses: Sprinkle a few drops in fish and chicken dishes. Add to pasta sauces, casseroles, burgers or salad dressings - or in fact to any savoury dishes where a spicy, chilli flavour is required.
To store: Keep in a cool dark place and consume by the best before date.