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Produce: Peppers

Peppers come from all over the world - but sometimes picking the perfect pepper can be a challenge! We'll give you the complete guide to picking and preparing peppers!

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Peppers can be found all over the world and in all sorts of colors, shapes, sizes, and levels of heat. So how do you find a pepper to fit your culinary style? From sweet bells to fiery habaneros, let us show you the tips and tricks so you can pick your perfect peppers. Late summer and early fall are the best time to get peppers in season. They should be bright, shiny, and have smooth unwrinkled skin. Be sure to avoid peppers that have moldy stems or soft spots. Select peppers that have a vibrant color, firm feel, symmetrical shape, and are heavy. Firmer peppers are most likely matured on the plant and will have better flavor. All peppers fall into two categories--sweet and hot. Let's take a look at some popular pepper varieties. Sweet peppers, such as bell peppers or cubanells can be found in green, red, yellow, orange, purple, or even white. Sweet peppers can be eaten raw, added to soups or salads, and are also great for roasting and grilling. If you like it hot, check out the chili peppers. Jalapeo peppers are the most familiar hot pepper, are rich in flavor, and have a good amount of heat. Jalapeos are great in salsas, Mexican food, and as a garnish. Anaheim chili peppers are larger and have a shiny thick skin and bright green color. Anaheims range from mild and sweet to moderately hot and can be chopped into salsas and casserole dishes. Hungarian wax peppers are a pastel, yellow colored chili similar to the sweeter banana pepper. It's usually used for Hungarian soups and stews but is good in salsas or as a garnish. Serrano peppers are a small, waxy, green chili that ripen to a bright red color. Their thin walls make them a less meaty chili and you can use serrano chilies anywhere you might use jalapeos. Poblano chilies are dark green, heart-shaped peppers that have thick walls and are rather mild which makes them perfect for stuffing and adds a deep rich flavor to soups and chilies. Fresno peppers are bright green and turn red when fully mature. Fresno peppers look much like a jalapeo with a more tapered point and are great in salsas. Habaneros and scotch bonnets top the scale in heat and are very similar. Like most other chilies, they start green and mature to orange and red color when they ripen. Habaneros are used in salsas and salad dressing, while scotch bonnet's distinct flavor are great for Caribbean and jerk dishes. Both sweet and hot peppers can be refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to one week. Chili peppers contain oils that can burn your skin and eyes. Always wear rubber or plastic gloves when handling fresh chilies and wash your hands, knives, and all surfaces thoroughly afterward with soap and water. When cutting and slicing peppers, start at the stem and cut vertically all the wan around the pepper stem. Remove the stem, core, seeds, and membrane which can be bitter. So whether you're looking to add a little flavor and color to a kebab or wanna add a little heat to your next salsa, remember this guide in your pursuit of the perfectly picked pepper.