WHAT’S IN SEASON
The cooler nights and subtle shifts in weather will spur the transition from summer vegetables to fall harvests in late September. This time of year marks the end of tomatoes and corn and a new beginning to fall vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, spinach, lettuce, edamame, chard, kale, and winter squash, including pumpkins. As the temperatures cool and the soil retains moisture during the fall, carrots will again become sweet and have a softer texture.
September also marks the time of year that sweet peppers are ready for harvest. Sweet peppers are a favorite at Mountain Bounty Farm. They come in so many shapes and sizes, from round pimentos to long, skinny yellow Corno di Toros. Sweet peppers and hot peppers belong to the same species, both originating from wild hot chilies growing in the tropical forests of southern Mexico. Some wild species still exist today in southern Arizona down to Central America. However, these wild relatives are very different from the cultivars that have emerged from hundreds of years of plant manipulation by farmers.
All peppers turn color with maturity, thus a green pepper is an unripe pepper. Larger scale productions began selling green peppers because ripe peppers take so long to reach maturity and can sunburn in the fields, making it difficult to sell in commercial stores. Most consumers don’t realize that a green pepper has been picked early and is unripe. That’s why green peppers are not as sweet as the other colored peppers, and are perhaps even bitter to taste.
Left on the vine, all peppers will ripen to a deep yellow or a variance of orange, red, and even purple. In addition, a fully mature pepper offers more nutrients and vitamins compared to a green pepper.
Peppers should be kept in a plastic bag in the veggie drawer of the refrigerator. Sweet peppers can be eaten raw, sliced and served with a veggie platter, or diced and included with a fresh salsa. They are also a colorful addition to a fresh garden or taco salad. Roasting or lightly sautéing a sweet pepper will bring out a delicious flavor, and you can’t beat the visual presentation of a beautiful, mature, colorful sweet pepper in any dish. Sweet peppers pair well with pasta, chicken, fish, and red meat.
~ Jen Ellermeyer is a Truckee resident and the CSA manager for Mountain Bounty Farm, which provides a year-round community supported agriculture program that delivers delicious, seasonal produce weekly to your area. Info: (530) 292-3776, mountainbountyfarm.com. Comment on this column below.