Farm Grown Peppers on the Menu at Market Cafe

Peppers from The Farm @ St. Joe’s will be featured in the Market Café throughout the month of August. Read on to learn how peppers get their spiciness, and other facts about this favorite vegetable to make bland dishes more appealing.

  • Domesticated in Mexico, peppers have been used to make bland dishes more appealing for thousands of years.
  • Peppers are a hot weather crop, and they are only produced in Michigan over the summer, ready for harvest between July and October and into November by extending the season.
  • There are hundreds of varieties of peppers, and they are generally classified as either sweet or spicy.
  • Peppers are unique vegetables because they contain alkaloids called capsaicinoids that make hot peppers spicy. These compounds are mostly concentrated in the lightly colored “ribs” found inside peppers. Pepper seeds do not contain any of these compounds, but they can taste spicy because they come into contact with the pepper ribs.
  • The spiciness of peppers is typically measured on the Scoville Scale ranging from zero Scovilles (SHUs) to over 1,000,000! Sweet peppers such as bells, sweet bananas and pimentos typically rate at or below 100 SHU, hotter peppers like serranos are in the range of 5,000 to 15,000 SHUs, and some of the hottest peppers, such as the ghost pepper, can rate from 800,000 to over 1,000,000 SHUs. Due to the extreme spiciness of these peppers, they are mostly used in very small quantities.
  • Sweet peppers, mainly bell pepper varieties, make up the majority of pepper production in Michigan, and are suitable for eating raw and do not come with the risk of a burnt tongue.
  • Peppers grown for processing are often harvested mechanically. The machine commonly used to harvest them is made in Saginaw, Michigan.
  • Red peppers are simply ripened green peppers.

Growing Season/Storage Tips (1,2):

  • While you most often may see sweet bell peppers, Michigan farmers grow a wide variety of both sweet and hot peppers. Fresh Michigan peppers are available every year starting in July and going through October.
  • Nearly 1,500 farms produce peppers, covering 2,200 acres across Michigan. About 900 of these farms produce bell peppers.
  • Fresh peppers should be refrigerated, preferably in 80% to 90% relative humidity.
  • Choose firm, bright peppers with tight skin that are heavy for their size. Avoid dull, shriveled, or pitted peppers
  • Refrigerate bell peppers in a plastic bag for up to 5 days
  • Wash peppers just before use. To wash, use cold water and remove any dirt.
  • Once peppers are cut, they are very susceptible to spoilage
  • Wear gloves when handling hot peppers, such as chili peppers. Capsaicin, one of the chemicals that make peppers hot, can burn skin and is especially painful if it comes into contact with your eyes.


Nutrition Info (2):

  • All peppers are high in vitamins A and C. Richly colored peppers, especially the red, orange and purple varieties, are packed with these vitamins.
  • Peppers are a good source of lycopene and beta-carotene, which are phytochemicals often found in orange and red fruits and vegetables. These nutrients have high antioxidant properties, which help eliminate free radicals in the body that can damage tissues.
  • Red peppers have more vitamin C, lycopene, and carotene than green bell peppers.