Capsicums or sweet/bell peppers as they are known in other parts of the world, belong to the same family as chillies, but are much milder and sweeter tasting! Capsicums are usually glossy, smooth-skinned and firm to touch. They have 3 or 4 lobes that slightly taper to one end, thick walls and a large hollow centre that contain segments which the seeds are attached to. Their scientific name is Capsicum Annuum
Available year round they are the best value from November to June. They come in a range of colours most commonly green or red but other colours include yellow, black, brown, mauve and orange.
Green Capsicums are a low source of energy providing 92 kJ per 100g and moderate source of fibre 2.4g per 100g.
Red Capsicums are a low source of energy providing 106kJ per 100g and a moderate source of fibre 1.8g per 100g. Red capsicums have very high levels of Vitamin C (150% more than green Capsicums) and provide 322% of an adult’s recommended daily intake of Vitamin C in 100g. Red Capsicums are rich in Beta-Carotene a precursor for Vitamin A (and contain more than green Capsicums do).
Capsicums are an excellent source of Vitamin E and a good source of Folate (one of the B Vitamins) and Potassium.
Grown on a medium sized bush, with the preference for a warm tropical climate as they do not handle extreme weather changes. They are grown in several states in Australia including New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory and some parts of Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. Green Capsicums are picked when they have a solid green appearance. If left on the bush for another week or two they will slowly change to a vibrant red colour.
Capsicums are great to eat raw as a snack, in salads or with dips. Serve as a vegetable or add to casseroles, stir-fries, fried rice, pies or omelettes.
When buying Capsicums look for shiny firm flesh with a good bright colour and no wrinkling skin, soft spots or blemishes. Store within the refrigerator and use within 5 days.
Check out Dr Sue Shepherd’s recipe for Prawn Stir Fry with Pickled Ginger .
Source: Nutrient Reference Values for Australia & New Zealand 2006; NUTTAB 2010.
PLEASE NOTE: Fruits & vegetables in season may vary depending on where you live. Check with your friendly greengrocer.