I always thought that red peppers were merely ripened green peppers; true for both bell and chilies. All summer, I watched my jalapeno plant grow, and waited and waited for them to turn red. After a while, I stopped checking. The green foliage and peppers began to blend in with the border plantings.
When I was in the garden yesterday, checking in on the kale and salad greens, I spied the drooping plant, weighted down with a dozen green peppers. With evening temperatures already dipping into the 30s and 40s, any chance of a red pepper was lost. I snapped off the peppers to salvage what I could. But I wondered if the recent cool temperatures sucked out the heat from the chilies, as rumor had it? I cut one in half, nibbled gingerly on a seed, and confirmed that, in fact, they were still piquant.
To preserve the chilies for the winter, I sliced them into rings, smoked them on the charcoal grill and then packed them in oil in ice cube trays. They add a nice, smoky undertone to many recipes. Sometimes, if I’m feeling sassy, I pop popcorn in a “cube” of smoked chilies. This makes an extremely addictive and thoroughly satifying snack.
So to recap my misinformation:
- Not all peppers turn red when ripe.
- Chilies don’t lose their heat in cold temperatures.
And here’s some correct information about chilies: most of their heat is in the white membranes and seeds. To lessen the heat of peppers, cut these parts out.