A Peak at Purple Peppers

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A peck isn't really a heck of a lot; it's the dry measure of about 2 gallons. If you saw such a sum of purple peppers your tongue might twist into pronouncements about the picking habit of one productive Peter Piper, who, oddly, didn't pick fresh peppers, but pickled ones. Lucky for us these fresh and lovely deep purple sweet peppers will soothe our twisted tongues and feed our eyes and bodies with colorful sustenance for a summertime table.

purple bell peppersIf you were thinking, "Didn't there used to be only green peppers in the world?" you would be right. Green peppers are actually just immature red peppers. But in recent years, growers have emancipated themselves from a Duo-tone world and let the full color spectrum flow due in part to the availability of heirloom seeds, peppers now come in a rainbow of colors. The Edible Gardening Trends Research Report, sponsored by the Garden Writers Association, noted an increase in colorful veggie seed sales in 2009, hence the colorful 2010 crop.

As you might know, colorful food indicates the presence of anthocyanin, a water-soluble pigment in the flavonoid family and a valuable antioxidant. Sweet peppers in all colors are full of Vitamin C (three times that of citrus), Vitamin A and fiber, all of which contribute to circulatory health. Sweet peppers are related to hot chiles (Capsicum family) as well as tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant.

Preparation: The royal purple hue will fade when cooked, but you can keep the color if used raw. Try it grated in a slaw or in a crudités platter or salad.

Storage: Keep them dry in the crisper section of the fridge for a couple days tops. Avail yourself of the power of purple as soon as possible.

- Heidi Lewis

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