A widely popular and highly versatile fruit, you can use bell peppers in a variety of dishes including salads, salsas, soups, stews, curries, grilled dishes, baked dishes, roasts, and more! If you’re looking to add beauty and freshness to your dish, adding different types of colored bell peppers is an excellent choice.
In this guide, we’ll cover the botanical classification of bell peppers, and then discuss seven different types of colored bell peppers and their unique characteristics.
So, read on to learn more!
Bell Peppers: Botanical Classification
It may surprise you to learn that while bell peppers are mild and slightly sweet, they actually belong to the same genus as capsaicin-containing chili peppers, the Capsicum genus. In fact, all of the different types of colored bell peppers belong to the same species, Capsicum annuum, as hot peppers such as jalapenos and cayenne peppers. These peppers are all simply cultivars of the same species. The wide diversity in shape, taste, size, and spiciness of Capsicum annuum is due in part to the fact that it has been cultivated for at least 6,500 years.
All species in the Capsicum genus are native to the Americas, with most native to warm regions of South and Central America and Mexico. Scientists have traced the origin of Capsicum annuum to Central-East Mexico, but cultivars of this species have since been created around the world.
7 Different Types of Colored Bell Peppers
While most people are familiar with green, orange, yellow, and red bell peppers, there are additional colors of this mild pepper available, though they are less common to come across. Below we’ll talk about the four commonly available colors of bell peppers as well as white, brown, and purple.
1. Green Bell Pepper
The vast majority of bell peppers start out green, though there are a couple of cultivars that start green and mature green, such as the ‘Permagreen’ cultivar. Typically, the green bell peppers you find in the store are simply unripe red bell peppers. Since they usually aren’t fully matured, green bells tend to be crispier, firmer, a touch bitter, and less sweet than other colors. People use them in a variety of dishes both fresh and cooked. They’re popular for use in salads and fajitas.
2. Orange Bell Pepper
The orange bell pepper has a sweet, light, and fruity flavor. It’s packed with beneficial beta-carotene, which gives this pepper its lovely orange color. Most orange cultivars begin green and ripen to their orange color, though some may start out a pale orange and ripen to a deeper or brighter shade. ‘Orange Blaze’ is one of the most popular varieties for its early maturation, sweetness, and disease resistance. This color looks gorgeous in stews and soups.
3. Yellow Bell Pepper
The yellow bell pepper is mild, sweet, and vibrant. It’s popular for use in curries and stuffed pepper dishes. It’s also wonderful roasted and dipped in hummus. ‘Golden Bell’ is a lovely yellow cultivar that brightens up any dish. They’re also an excellent source of vitamin C.
4. Red Bell Pepper
Red bell peppers are the sweetest and least crunchy of the bunch. They take the longest to ripen and may cost more than the other common colors as a result. A myth claims that all bell peppers are the same cultivar and are just harvested at different times as they ripen from green to yellow, orange, and finally red. This isn’t true, although the green peppers you find in most stores are often unripe red bell peppers. Red bells are excellent roasted, pureed into pasta sauces, and added into more mild curry dishes. ‘Olympus’ is a popular and notably large cultivar of red bell pepper.
5. Brown Bell Pepper
If you like the sweetness of red bell peppers, brown bells may be right up your alley. These less common bell peppers are sweet, fruity, and still have a nice crunch to them. While they’re a lovely mahogany brown on the outside, the flesh inside is often brick red. These bells tend to be medium to large in size and blocky in shape. ‘Chocolate Bell’ is a lovely heirloom cultivar that is usually ready for harvest in 80 days.
6. White Bell Pepper
Depending on the cultivar, white bell peppers can produce a ghostly white or creamy yellow shade. The outside and inside flesh tend to mirror each other. These bells produce a mild, slightly sweet flavor and have a firmer crunch than orange or red bell peppers. The whiter shades tend to be a bit less sweet while the pale yellow shades are fruitier and sweeter. ‘Snowball’ is a popular medium-sized cultivar.
7. Purple Bell Pepper
Most purple bell pepper cultivars, such as ‘Purple Petite’ and ‘Purple Beauty’ are much smaller than other types of colored bell peppers and produce a wonderful concentration of flavor. The ‘Purple Petite’ cultivar typically only weighs 2-3 ounces. They’re often marketed as snack-sized peppers and eaten fresh. Shades range from light lavender to black-purple. Their flavor is similar to that of green bell peppers, though some cultivars, such as ‘Purple Beauty’ are sweeter.
The Featured Image
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.