Grown in hundreds of different sizes, shapes, and colours, no two peppers are alike. Sweet, savoury, mild, ornamental, or hot, peppers can be found in a number of dishes and cuisines.

Wilbur Scoville created an index that ranks the heat of peppers in order from mildest to hottest. The mildest starts at 0 and goes to over 1,000,000 for the hottest peppers.

With hundreds of varieties, here are some of the more popular ones and their Scoville rankings:

Bell (0)
Cherry (500)
Anaheim (2,500)
Chipotle (8,000)
Jalapeño (10,000)
Hot Banana (15,000)
Serrano (23,000)
Cayenne (50,000)
Tabasco (50,000)
Thai (100,000)
Rocoto (350,000)
Habanero (350,000)
Scotch Bonnet (350,000)
Naga Jolokia (also known as Ghost, 1,100,000)

Capsaicin, the compound that gives hot peppers their “heat”, is able to bind onto nerve cell receptors and change the way you feel pain. It is also believed that hot peppers have both anti-cancer and blood-sugar balancing properties.

Bell peppers contain more than 30 different carotenoids – fat-soluble pigments – which provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits.

Select peppers that are shiny and blemish-free. Avoid peppers that are dull in colour and have wrinkled flesh.
Fresh peppers are best stored in a refrigerator while dried peppers are best kept in dry, dark cool storage areas.

Fresh peppers can be stored for at least a week in a plastic bag. The riper the pepper is when harvested, the less time it will maintain its freshness. Peppers that have been roasted and skinned will keep for about a week covered in olive oil within an airtight container.

To cut and seed a bell pepper, place it on its side and trim off the top, stem side, and bottom. Cut the pepper in half lengthwise, and shake it to remove some of the seeds. Once some of the seeds have been removed, take one half of the pepper and place it skin side down, cut down the length of the pepper to trim off the “ribs” and any attached seeds. Now you can slice, dice, or julienne!
Roasting peppers under high heat is one of the most popular cooking methods because it brings out the natural sweetness. The easiest way to roast is by cutting peppers into quarters and placing them onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes at 500°F or until the skins have turned black. Once cooled, don’t forget to remove the skins!
Seasonal Availability
July to October

Nutrition per 125 mL of red pepper (74 g), sweet and sautéed:

Nutrient Value
Calories 99
Protein 1 g
Carbohydrates 5 g
Total Sugar 3 g
Total Dietary Fibre 1.3 g
Calcium 5 mg
Iron 0.4 mg
Sodium 16 mg
Potassium 144 mg
Magnesium 9 mg
Vitamin C 121 mg

Provided by Health Canada