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Growing up, my parents only raised and ate green bell peppers. They tasted fine in ground up bologna, boiled egg, green peppers and mayonnaise on toasted bread. They were okay cooked in some dishes, but eaten alone, they were bitter to sour tasting. The bitter/sweet imbalance comes from glycoalkaloid in the genus Solanum family (nightshade plants like tomatoes, potatoes and peppers) which is a pesticide found in the green peel. Insects do not like the taste of it either.

In 1971 I ate my first authentic Mexican Food in New Mexico. It made me sick. Too hot and spicy! By the time we moved to El Paso, Texas in 1973, I loved Mexican food and was becoming addicted to needing a capsaicin fix (the heat in peppers). We moved to the upper Rio Grande valley in El Paso in 1984. I had a 50’x30’ garden behind rock walls. I grew a wide variety of peppers including Bell, Italian Frying such as Gypsy and Carmen, Jalapenos, Poblanos, and various other hot peppers. Allowing the peppers to ripen to red, orange, yellow, and rusty brown made for not only a beautiful garden, but produced peppers that were sweet and delicious, with different flavors and degrees of spicey hot.

We ate the peppers fresh in strips or in salads, roasted, smoked, cooked in various recipes, made into salsas, and dried, as well as frozen for later use. Ripe peppers are beneficial because they are a good source of fiber, have high content of Vitamins A, B6, and C plus other antioxidants, help burn calories, have antimicrobial  properties which are anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, may prevent ulcers and cancer, keep the heart healthy, and help prevent infections.

This year the red bells and gypsy have been very flavorful. The four jumbo jalapenos plants have produced several dozen 3” large ripe fruit that I cut in half, cored out the seed trunk and ribs, roasted them on the grill and froze them after they cooled. They have outstanding delicious sweet flavor with a lowered but delightful capsaicin spicey heat. We will use them in many recipes. The only downside to fixing them was that my hands burned all night because I did not wear rubber gloves.

Also, this year the poblano peppers have been thick and meaty, Green poblano peppers are sold in grocery stores to make chile rellenos along with other dishes that need moderate heat for flavoring. I allowed my poblanos to ripen. Then I roasted them on the grill, put them in a paper sack to sweat, pealed them, destemmed and deseeded them, and put four of them in a plastic freezer bag to be frozen. We have used them as a topping on pork chops and chicken and cut them up in a sour cream and salsa dip. The rich flavor overrides the mild heat. My hands did not burn quite so much that night.

-Herman Green

9/4/2020    Garden Journals