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Discover the flavor of peppers at your local farmers' markets this month.
Discover the flavor of peppers at your local farmers' markets this month

Peppers are a Hot Harvest
in September

Aug 21, 2019

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As summer comes to an end our bounty in Sonoma County is at it's strongest.   It's the time when we get everything from tomatoes to melons. It's also when we see all the peppers coming in. You can find them at almost every vegetable farmers stand at the farmers' markets around county. Some of the farmers even turn them into hot sauce and a few pickle them as well. 

Hot peppers origins can be traced back to Mexico.   They have been a part of the human diet since 7,500 BC according to Wikipedia. After the Columbian exchange peppers were found world wide and have become a staple in Asia and India. They are even used to ward off evil spirits and in medicines. 

Peppers were one the first self pollinating crops in Mexico, Central America and parts of South America.   Peru is considered to have the widest variety of diversity of peppers. Today chili pepper is grown widely in many parts of the world as an important commercial crop.

Several cultivars of chili peppers grown all around the world.   Depending upon cultivar type, it bears flowers which subsequently develop into fruit pods of variable size, shape, color, and pungency. Moreover, again, depending on the cultivar type, their hotness ranges from mild, fleshy (Mexican bell peppers) to fiery, tiny, Nag Jalokiya chili peppers of the Indian subcontinent. The hotness of chili measured in “Scoville heat units” (SHU). On the Scoville scale, a sweet bell pepper scores 0, a jalapeño pepper around 2,500-4,000 units, and Mexican habañeros may have 200,000 to 500,000 units.

Chilies contain health benefiting an alkaloid compound, capsaicin, which gives them strong spicy, pungent character.  Early laboratory studies on experimental mammals suggest that capsaicin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties. It also found to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in obese. Fresh chili peppers, red and green, are a rich source of vitamin-C. 100 g fresh chilies provide about 143.7 µg or about 240% of RDA.Vitamin-C is a potent water-soluble antioxidant. It is essential for the collagen synthesis inside the human body. Collagen is one of the main structural protein required for maintaining the integrity of blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps protect from scurvy, develop resistance against infectious agents (boosts immunity), and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.

Chili peppers are also good in other antioxidants such as vitamin-A, and flavonoids like β-carotene, α-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin. These antioxidant substances in capsicum help protect the body from injurious effects of free radicals generated during stress, diseases conditions. Chilies carry a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. The human body use manganese as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Chilies are also good in the B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that human body requires them from external sources to replenish.

Discover the flavor of peppers at your local farmers' markets this month. Your farmer will be able to tell you how hot the peppers are and a variety that will suit your needs. So don't be afraid to ask questions. 

Pepper Jelly

Jalapeno Jelly. Photo: Chiot's Run - Flikr(CC BY-NC 2.0)12 jalapeños

2 tart green apples, chopped

2 cups cider vinegar, divided 

6 cups sugar

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

2 green jalapeños, diced finely

2 red hot peppers, diced finely

For added color use 2 - 3 red bell peppers 

Directions 

Chop up 12 of the jalapeños and add them to blender with one cup vinegar and the 2 chopped apples and liquefy.

Make sure the wear rubber gloves while cutting & handling peppers since the hot pepper oil can burn the skin. Also don’t inhale too deeply when opening blender and when cooking the jelly, can cause coughing. Make sure you wash your hands well after handling peppers to remove all pepper oil.

Combine the pepper & apple purée with the remaining cup of vinegar, lemon juice and sugar in a pan and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.

Boil for ten minutes, stirring often. If it’s not thick enough boil longer, test for thickness by putting some on a cold plate and letting it rest. Remove from heat and add remaining diced red peppers and jalapeños and stir to incorporate.

Ladle directly into hot, sterilized jars. Leave a quarter inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and wipe the rims clean. Add lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Kelly Smith 

Agricultural Community Events Farmers Markets

North Bay Farmers' Markets from Marin to Sonoma 

www.communityfarmersmarkets.com

A 501(c)5 Nonprofit

PO Box 113 

Kenwood, CA 95452

415-999-5635

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