Native to tropical America, capsicums are also known as peppers or sweet peppers. They have only been available in New Zealand for the past 30-40 years but have become a fast favourite among kiwis. Capsicums can be red, green, yellow, orange, white, purple-brown and lime green. Green and red come from the same plant, however yellow, orange, white and purple are different varieties. Red, orange, yellow and green capsicums are readily available whereas white, purple-brown and lime green capsicums have a more limited supply.
Capsicums are sweet and juicy with a mild spicy flavour. Red capsicums, being riper, are sweeter than green capsicums. The shape also varies with each variety, from the more commonly found blocky shape to pointy capsicum. Miniature varieties can also be found in New Zealand.
All capsicums are a good source of vitamin C and a source of vitamin B6. Red/yellow/orange capsicums are a source of folate. Red capsicums contain higher levels of vitamin C compared to the other colours and both red and orange capsicums are a source of vitamin A. A range of carotenoids is responsible for the different colours.
Refrigerate in the vegetable crisper. At cooler times of the year capsicums can be kept in the fruit bowl.
Bake, grill, roast, stir fry, or stuff!
Capsicums can be eaten raw or cooked. They are often used raw in salads, cut into strips and eat with dips, or used as a garnish. Dice them up to use on pizzas, cut them into hefty chunks for kebabs, blend them up in pasta sauces, or add to stir fries.