The family Capsicum annuum consists of numerous peppers. Here are 5 capsicum varieties and their shelf life.
A fun fact about peppers
Hot peppers owe their heat to a compound known as capsaicin. This chemical component is touted for enhancing metabolism, promoting digestion, creating satiety as well as alleviating pain.
Bell peppers owe their name to their shape which resembles a bell. These types of pepper belong to the nightshade family. They are found in shades of green, red, yellow or orange.
Capsicum and chili peppers are natives of South and Central America. Green peppers are harvested when unripe. As they continue to ripen, they change to yellow and finally red. Green peppers have a somewhat bitter taste whereas red ones are sweet.
Did you know that fresh, raw capsicum are mostly composed of water? The remaining components are carbs, fat, protein and fiber.
Nutritionally, bell peppers are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Antioxidants called beta-carotene are found in the ripe ones. This is what gives them their yellow, orange and red colors.
As such, capsicum aid in promoting eye health and facilitate blood circulation. Being good sources of minerals like iron, they help minimize low blood count or anemia. Since they contain vitamin C, this helps in iron absorption.
Shelf life of bell peppers
Fresh bell peppers deteriorate quickly. To prolong their shelf life, store them whole in the vegetable crisper of your fridge. They will last up to 2 weeks.
Green ones will last longer, about 3 weeks. Sliced peppers will wither at the ends. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and use within 1 week.
Refrigerate any cooked leftovers and consume within 3 days.
Habanero peppers pack a fair share of heat. Actually, they are among the hottest peppers.
Like bell peppers, unripe habaneros are green. Their color changes to orange-red when fully ripe, with some varieties appearing pink or dark brown.
They thrive in Mexico, specifically in the Yucatan Peninsula. However, their cultivation has spread to other hot climatic regions in Costa Rica, some part of the U.S.A and Panama.
They are popular in Mexican cuisines due to how they impart heat, a fruity, citrusy flavor on dishes. Most fiery sauces contain habanero peppers. Use them on salsas, barbeque sauces and glazing sauces.
Exercise caution when handling any hot peppers. They cause skin irritation or burns. Wear gloves and avoid touching your face or eyes.
Shelf life of habanero peppers
Store fresh, whole habaneros in the fridge – vegetable crisper. Properly refrigerated habaneros will last 1 week.
Freeze for long-term use. Store them in heavy-duty freezer bags. They should keep well in good quality for up to 1 year.
Another Mexican native, jalapeno peppers are moderately hot. They are medium-sized with a shiny, smooth outer skin.
Jalapeno cultivation spread worldwide. Many cuisines incorporate jalapeños. They are cheaply available in grocery stores.
Did you know the seeds and ribs of peppers contain most of the heat? As such, remove them before using the rest of the pepper.
Incorporate jalapeno peppers in salads, vinaigrettes, roasted vegetables and dips for extra kick. They are commercially used in bottled hot sauces.
Nutritionally, jalapenos contain the following: vitamins C, A, B6, K, folate as well as minerals such as iron, copper, potassium.
Shelf life of jalapenos
Store jalapenos in the crisper. Use fresh ones within 1 week. On the other hand, Freeze whole or chopped jalapenos.
Freeze in small batches that you can use in one serving. Freeze in heavy-duty freezer bags. This prevents loss of valuable nutrients.
You have mostly come across cayenne in its powdered form. Fresh cayenne are available, but are a rare commodity.
Cayenne pepper has an attractive bright red color. Furthermore, it originates in French Guinea, in a city known by the same name. It thrives there, in a sub-tropical climate. However, temperate climate can do.
Cayenne is one of the most common peppers. It is used as a food seasoning as well as in Cajun cuisines. It blends well with most dishes and hot beverages.
Add cayenne to hot chocolate, egg dishes, as a marinade for meat, fish, spicy sauces, Asian curry dishes, Mexican dishes and ginger ale.
Nutritionally, cayenne peppers contain vitamins A, K, B6, C, K, minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, carbohydrates as well as fat.
Shelf life of cayenne
Out of the 5 capsicum varieties and their shelf life, cayenne has the longest shelf life. Properly stored powdered cayenne can last up to 4 years.
Store in the pantry, in a cool, dry area away from moisture. Keep tightly closed at all times.
Insert opened containers in sealable Ziploc bags. Alternatively, use airtight containers to preserve shelf life.
Ground spices like cayenne serve other purposes after losing their potency. Use them to keep critters at bay in your home.
Named so due to their resemblance to bananas, these peppers are bright yellow with slightly sweet and tangy flavor. They also have a smooth, waxy skin and are sometimes known as yellow wax pepper.
When left to ripen, banana peppers change to orange-red. However, they are used when yellow.
Banana peppers hardly emit any heat. They originate in South America, like most other peppers.
Include them on pizza toppings, in sandwiches and sauces. Make stuffed banana peppers, pickled banana peppers or roast them and serve as a side dish to barbequed meat.
Nutritionally, they contain vitamins C, A, B6, dietary fiber and numerous minerals like iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, sodium and potassium.
Shelf life of banana peppers
Store them as you would other capsicums – at the vegetable crisper, well wrapped in plastic bags. Under optimal temperatures of 40°F, banana peppers last up to 3 weeks.
How to identify spoiled capsicums
Peppers are highly perishable, especially fresh ones. It is an easy feat to identify spoilage in capsicum:
Here are 4 simple identifiers.
- Sunken, mushy flesh indicates the onset of spoilage. Use such peppers as compost manure rather than in cooking.
- Smelly, pungent odor is a clear sign of rot. This goes hand in hand with sunken flesh. Identify such peppers and get rid of them.
- Mold growth on flesh or skin. Discard any moldy peppers to prevent the risk of food poisoning or allergic reactions.
- For powdered pepper like cayenne, look out for clumping and stringy clutches on storage containers. This indicates loss of potency.
Apart from names and heat level, most peppers share similar characteristics in terms of nutritional information, shelf life and storage tips. I hope the above 5 capsicum varieties and their shelf life give you a glimpse of peppers.