Peppers are a staple in most gardens. While green peppers seem to be the most popular and abundant, most varieties start green and ripen to any number of colors — yellow, orange, red and purple, to name a few. The variety of a pepper will dictate its color and flavor.
All peppers contain antioxidants that support heart and eye health, in addition to anti-inflammatory properties. Color plays an important factor in the taste and nutrient quality of the vegetable. Green peppers, being less ripe, are slightly bitter in taste. This also explains why green peppers tend to be cheaper, since they are harvested sooner. When left to mature to a yellow, orange or red color, the vegetable grows sweeter and increases in the content of vitamins A and C.
Red peppers are not only considered to be the sweetest, they also are the most nutrient-dense. This color of the popular vegetable contains the most beta-carotene, an antioxidant with cancer-fighting properties. Yellow peppers have more vitamin C than green peppers but less vitamin A and beta-carotene, while orange peppers contain more vitamin A.
When it comes to growing peppers, staking plants will help prevent sunburn as the fruit ripens on the vine. Mulching around the plants will prevent soil moisture loss and reduce diseases.
If you’re looking to add a rainbow of color to your pepper crop, suggested varieties for West Virginia are Red Knight, a green to red bell pepper; Carmen, a sweet, red Cuban-type pepper; Early Sunsation, a green to yellow bell pepper; Milena, an orange bell pepper; Flavorburst, a green to yellow/golden bell pepper; and Blushing Beauty, a bell pepper that undergoes a unique, slower color change from ivory to orange to red.
By Emily Morrow, WVU Extension Agent – Jefferson County