- 10 Creative Ways to Use Banana Peppers
- This is the BEST easy pickled banana peppers recipe! Sweet, salty and vinegary and so easy!
- Stuffed Banana Peppers
- A Bit About Banana Peppers
- Stuffed Banana Peppers Recipe
- Recipe Tips
- Try Some of My Other Popular Stuffed Pepper Recipes
- The Pepperoncini Planting Guide: A To Zing
- Pickling faves…
- Pepperoncini planting fast facts
- The site and season: Where and when to grow pepperoncini
- Feeding and watering pepperoncini plants: How often and how much
- Pepperoncini harvesting: When to pick
- Pepperoncini plant care: What to watch out for
- Starting Hot Pepper Plants From Seed
- Getting Started
- What are the Germination Steps for the Soil and Tray Method?
- Paper Towel Method:
- Location, Location, Location
- How Many Bell Peppers Per Plant?
- About Peppers (Capsicum sp.)
- How to Grow Peppers:
- Banana Peppers – All About Them
- What is a Banana Pepper?
- Why are Banana Peppers Called Banana Peppers?
- How Hot is a Banana Pepper?
- Growing Banana Peppers
- When to Pick Banana Peppers
- How Long do Fresh Banana Peppers Last?
- What Can I Substitute for Banana Peppers?
- Banana Peppers Vs. Pepperoncinis
- Where Can I Find Banana Pepper Seeds?
10 Creative Ways to Use Banana Peppers
If you have a bumper crop of banana peppers, we’ve got tons of ideas for what you can do with them. rudisill/Getty Images
If you’re a backyard gardener, you’re probably used to having more vegetables than you know what to do with. Maybe you’re one of those people walking around the office or the neighborhood with a basket of zucchini, practically begging someone to take it off your hands. There are just some veggies that grow like crazy.
And the banana pepper is no exception. It’s easy to grow, comes in both sweet and hot varieties and is a good source of fiber, beta-carotene, and vitamins A and C. You’ll know when a banana pepper is ready to be picked because it’s yellow in color and the shape of a banana. Hence the name.
Now that it’s the end of the growing season, and you’ve let your garden veggies ripen on the plants before you harvest, you’re likely to end up with a late bumper crop before your plants call it quits for the year. If nature’s given you plenty of those banana peppers, and you can’t eat them all the same day, don’t refrigerate them. So, what do you do with a bushel of banana peppers? We’ve got 10 delicious creative ways to use them. Remember, banana peppers rate fairly low in Scoville Units, (how hot they are) — so most of these ideas are kid-friendly. Click ahead for 10 ways to use your garden’s banana peppers.
This is the BEST easy pickled banana peppers recipe! Sweet, salty and vinegary and so easy!
Easy and sweet pickled banana peppers are one of life’s fine delicacies. This recipe is so fast and easy it’s silly. It’s tangy and salty and sweet and vinegary all at the perfect levels. When your pepper plants are loaded down with fruit this brine is a quick and easy way to get them to put up fast.
We had a great harvest of banana peppers this year. They are pretty consistent plants for us no matter where we have lived. Although in Oregon we did have to start covering them pretty early as the season is so short there.
We also got to experience our first real harvest of jalapenos and serrano peppers which was super exciting….we have done up many of the jalapenos in this same brine and have even done a few mixed jars to kick up the spice factor of the banana peppers.
The other thing that was totally unique here in Georgia was that because the season is so long we actually had banana peppers turn a beautiful array of colors for us.
Everything from light light yellow to deep orange and reds. The look absolutely stunning mixed together in the jars.
We eat these pickled banana peppers on everything, salads, sandwiches, if I’m feeling bold I even enjoy a few on a slice of pizza. One of my favorite things to do with them is to mix them up with some tuna and mayo and eat them with saltines. They also make great bribes and gifts for friends. We have to keep it hush hush how good they are or we wouldn’t have any left for ourselves.
This brine also works lovely for a quick sweet and tangy refrigerator pickle! Just slice up the cucumbers, cover with brine, and place them in the fridge.
Wondering what to do with all your pickled banana peppers? Check out all these ideas:
WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THOSE PICKLED BANANA PEPPERS
- 4 cups white vinegar
- 1 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 lb banana peppers seeded and sliced in rings (or just pack 4 pint jars worth)
- salt to taste optional, we do not use but please see notes
- Bring the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed and celery seed to a rolling boil.
- Pour brine over peppers to within 1/2″ of the top.
- Wipe off the rim and put lid and ring on.
- Store in the fridge.
- You can also follow proper canning procedures and then process them in a water bath canner if you prefer (will lend a slightly less crunchy pepper). Follow the USDA guidelines for timing.
- Be sure to verify that the lids have completely sealed down if storing on the shelf.
- Leave for 1 week or longer (if you can stand it!)
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 335 Total Fat: 1g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 166mg Carbohydrates: 73g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 69g Protein: 2g 23.7Kshares
Stuffed Banana Peppers
A delicious stuffed banana peppers recipe filled with chopped beef, melty cheese and lots of seasonings. Great for an easy dinner, side dish, or party platter.
I get questions like this very often – “Hey, Mike! What can I make with banana peppers? My garden is exploding with them right now.”
Banana peppers are hugely popular peppers. They’re easy to grow and the plants are usually quite productive, producing a lot of peppers. You can use them in all sorts of ways, from chopping and sauteing them as part of your mirepoix, to making salsas, tossing them into salads, or pickling them. Or, you can use them up in one of my favorite ways – Stuffed Banana Peppers.
Banana peppers are excellent stuffing peppers. They’re just big enough to hold whatever stuffing you’re in the mood for. The pepper walls aren’t very thick, yet they offer a bit of sweet crunch when eaten raw, and soften up nicely during the cooking process.
A Bit About Banana Peppers
The banana pepper is a mild, medium-sized pepper with a tangy, slightly sweet taste. They offer very little heat, if any at all, and are considered more of a sweet pepper, not hot peppers. Compared to the mildest jalapeno pepper, it is 5 times milder. They’re also known as the yellow wax pepper or banana chili. You’ll find them commonly eaten on pizza, in Greek salads, on sandwiches, or stuffed with meat and/or cheese, which is one of my favorite ways to use them.
Learn more about banana peppers here.
Let’s talk about how we make the recipe, shall we?
Stuffed Banana Peppers Recipe
First, heat an oven to 400 degrees.
Slice your banana peppers in half lengthwise and core out the seeds and innards to make room for stuffing. Set them onto a large baking sheet.
Heat the oil in a medium pan and add the chopped steak. Season with garlic, paprika, salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, or until the beef/steak is cooked to your liking.
Next, spoon the seasoned beef mixture into the peppers, then top each with shredded cheese.
Bake for 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can grill the stuffed banana peppers for 15 minutes, or broil them for 6-7 minutes, until the cheeses are nice and melty.
Remove from heat and set onto serving plates.
Top with chopped green onion, spicy chili flakes and hot sauce, if desired.
BOOM! Easy recipe, right? And quite satisfying. I love a simple stuffed pepper recipe.
- The Stuffing. I used chopped flank steak for these stuffed banana peppers, though you are free to use any cut of steak that you’d like. It also works for any ground meat, like beef, pork, turkey or chicken. I’ve made this recipe with leftover carne asada before, and it was extremely delicious.
- The Cheese. You can also use any type of cheese that you’d like, but it is best to use a cheese that is more melty, like cheddar or pepperjack. Harder cheeses won’t melt and you may not enjoy the consistency. You can also swap out the meat and go with a very soft cheese, like goat cheese or cream cheese.
- The Peppers. Your banana peppers are not very thick walled and should soften up nicely during cooking. However, if you’d prefer very soft stuffed peppers, blanch the cored out peppers in hot water for a couple minutes before stuffing them. This will soften them up even more.
That’s it, my friends! I hope you enjoy the stuffed banana peppers. They’re great for a simple weeknight meal, but they are also popular to serve as an appetizer. Time to get stuffing! Enjoy.
Try Some of My Other Popular Stuffed Pepper Recipes
- Cajun Cream Cheese Stuffed Anaheim Peppers
- Chicken and Cheese Stuffed Anaheim Peppers
- Easy Italian Sausage Stuffed Peppers
- Cream Cheese Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
- Cajun Chicken Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- Cajun Shrimp Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- See all of my Stuffed Pepper Recipes
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Stuffed Banana Peppers Recipe Prep Time 10 mins Cook Time 15 mins A delicious stuffed banana peppers recipe filled with chopped beef, melty cheese and lots of seasonings. Great for an easy dinner, side dish, or party platter. Course: Appetizer, Main Course Cuisine: American Keyword: banana pepper, stuffed peppers Servings: 10 half stuffed peppers Calories: 104 kcal Author: Mike Hultquist Ingredients
- 10 banana peppers or more as needed, depending on the size
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces beef or steak finely chopped (*)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 ounces shredded gouda cheese or use your favorite melty cheese
- Heat an oven to 400 degrees.
- Slice the banana peppers in half lengthwise and core them out. Set them onto a large baking sheet.
- Heat the oil in a medium pan and add the chopped steak. Season with garlic, paprika, salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, or until the beef/steak is cooked to your liking.
- Spoon the seasoned beef mixture into the peppers, then top each with shredded cheese.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can grill the stuffed banana peppers for 15 minutes, or broil them for 6-7 minutes, until the cheeses are nice and melty.
- Remove from heat and set onto serving plates.
- Top with chopped green onion, spicy chili flakes and hot sauce, if desired.
Makes 10 half stuffed banana peppers.
** About the Beef/Steak. Use any cut of choice, as long as it is chopped finely so that it will easily stuff into each banana pepper. Leftovers are good here, too. I used a bit of flank steak I had leftover, just seasoned it up in the pan. Try it with ground beef or ground turkey, pork or chicken.
Nutrition Facts Stuffed Banana Peppers Recipe Amount Per Serving Calories 104 Calories from Fat 72 % Daily Value* Fat 8g12% Saturated Fat 4g20% Cholesterol 27mg9% Sodium 106mg4% Potassium 108mg3% Carbohydrates 1g0% Fiber 1g4% Sugar 1g1% Protein 8g16% Vitamin A 196IU4% Vitamin C 8mg10% Calcium 82mg8% Iron 1mg6% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. 178 Shares
The Pepperoncini Planting Guide: A To Zing
If you love some pickled peppers for your sandwiches or pizza, growing pepperoncini brings you one step closer to a constant flow of delicious chilies just ready for brining. Pepperoncini barely nudge the dial on the pepper scale, but that doesn’t stop them from being a chili fan favorite. Best of all, pepperoncini planting doesn’t take a ton of space. In fact, it can even be done via window box gardening. Let’s walk you through the steps.
Pepperoncini planting fast facts
Scoville heat units:
Pepperoncini can rate anywhere between 100 and 500 Scoville Heat Units.
Buy pepperoncini seeds
Buy from Amazon.
Sandy soil that drains well and that has ample organic matter.
Seedlings should be planted 12 to 18 inches apart.
Soil should be watered once or twice per week.
Pepperoncini plants take approximately 72 days to reach maturity.
Mature plants are typically 24 inches tall and about 18 inches wide.
Between 2 and 5 inches long and about an inch in diameter.
Pepperoncini plants are very container friendly and can even be grown in smaller containers like window boxes, but 1-gallon containers are ideal.
The site and season: Where and when to grow pepperoncini
Transplant your pepperoncini seedlings when the soil temperatures have stabilized at about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Note that these peppers like heat but prolonged periods where the temperatures go above 90 can delay your harvest and/or reduce the number of blossoms and thus the number of fruit.
Feeding and watering pepperoncini plants: How often and how much
The sandier your soil is, the better it will be for your pepperoncini plants. For soil that is excessively heavy and that does not drain well, consider adding compost to help improve drainage. Tilling can be beneficial for root growth but is not essential. These plants prefer a soil pH in the 6.1 to 7.0 range.
You will want to water your pepperoncini plants 1-2 times each week but cut that down to once per week to make the peppers hotter. The ideal method of watering these plants is with a soaker hose. If you choose to water with a gardening hose, avoid getting the leaves wet. Water your pepperoncini plants until the soil is wet to a depth of at least 4 feet.
A low-nitrogen fertilizer is best for your pepperoncini; consider using 5-10-10 fertilizer and apply it using the side-dressing method.
Pepperoncini harvesting: When to pick
As they ripen, pepperoncini will turn pink before turning red and crinkly when they are fully mature. You will want to harvest them before they get to the pink stage as that is when they begin to lose flavor. They should be a pale yellowish green when you pick them. Cut them from the tree using scissors or shears and be careful to leave the stems attached to the fruit.
Pepperoncini plant care: What to watch out for
Pepperoncini plants are highly resistant to disease and insects but that does not mean that they cannot be affected. Be on the lookout for problems like:
- Tobacco Mosaic Disease: This disease causes leaves to become mottled. While tobacco mosaic may not kill the plant, it can stunt its growth and severely reduce the harvest. Immediately remove infected plants to keep the infection from spreading.
- Aphids: Remove insects by spraying plants with insecticidal soap. Apply once every three days until the infestation has been eliminated.
- Cutworms: Cutworms will eat through the stems of pepperoncini plants until they collapse. They eat at night and hide in the soil at the base of the plant during the day. You can catch cutworms at work by checking your plants at night. Discourage these pests by manually removing them and by placing collars around the stems of your seedlings that cover the soil at the base of the plant.
Starting Hot Pepper Plants From Seed
Growing your own hot peppers from seed can be very rewarding. The selection of hot peppers available at the supermarket is very poor. The selection of plants from a nursery or store tends to be a little better because there is a ton of terrific variety available when starting from seeds. And as hot pepper popularity continues to grow, the varieties just keep expanding. So, for starters, pick out your selections.
When planning out my garden, I LOVE this part. It’s a blast in the dead of winter to plan out your garden and order tried and true seeds. We’re all addicted to trying out new and exciting variations, and it’s an enjoyable experience to grow different variations and learn more about them. I’ll give you advice on choosing varieties that align with your different needs and preferences in a just a little bit.
Two Methods to Make the Germination Process Faster and Easier
If you live in a year-round warm climate such as southern Florida, you can directly sow your seeds into your garden. If you have a greenhouse, good for you!
The majority of my customers don’t fit into these two categories, so I’ll tailor this part towards them, although the same basics apply. There are many methods to germinate pepper seeds, but I am going to describe two methods. These two methods are the Soil and Tray method and the Wet Paper Towel Method. Read more about these methods below.
What are the Germination Steps for the Soil and Tray Method?
Before you start the stages of germination, read this checklist to make sure you have everything you need to prep:
- Gloves (this is optional if you are dealing with super-hot peppers because you don’t want the oil to irritate your eyes or skin- ouch!)
- Seed Starting Mix of Choice
- Heat Mat
- Seed Germination Tray with Humidity Dome
- Light Source
Once you have everything together, it’s time to start germinating your choice of seed mix. Read the steps below for the best approach to germinating your seeds whether you are growing hot peppers, sweet peppers, ornamental peppers, etc.
- Place your germination tray on the surface and pour about six cups of water. After adding the water, place your seed starting tray on top of the germination tray. Check to see if you have ¼-inch of standing water in the tray.
- Fill the seed starting tray with potting soil all the way to the top
- Make a ¼-inch hole in the center of each seed starting cell. A #2 pencil eraser is a great tool for making these holes.
- Place the seed into the ¼-inch hole and cover gently with soil. I plant 3 or 4 seeds per growing area.
- Apply the seedling heat mat to the bottom of the tray and cover the top of the seed starting tray with a humidity trapping dome.
Keep the seeds moist, but not soaked, through the germination phase. They germinate best above 65 degrees (the ideal temperature is 75 to 85 degrees). Because most homes are not this warm, another tip is to place them on top of your refrigerator until seedlings emerge. It stays pretty warm there. When seedlings start emerging, this is when it is time to start transplanting!
Some seed varieties can be finicky and difficult to germinate. Be patient as some varieties can take 4 to 6 weeks to germinate. Others can show up in 7 to 10 days. It depends on temperature, sunlight, soil and its variety. After they emerge, I believe in the mother nature theory: “Survival of The Fittest.”
Any choice of quality potting soil mix will do. We’ve used many different brands in the past and we’ve found that it’s all personal preference.
If you prefer to make your own mixture, go with 1/3 good garden soil (don’t go with clay soil as it compacts badly), 1/3 composted cow manure or similar growing medium, and 1/3 sand. Mix all 3 ingredients together very well.
Hot pepper plants LOVE sand as many varieties originate in areas with sandy soil. Also, it provides excellent drainage.
You can use our germination kit and growing equipment, so look into our pepper growing supplies including temperature controllers, seed trays and heat mats, and grow lights. You can purchase them individually or save by getting our complete indoor grow kit.
Paper Towel Method:
Let the tap water sit for 24 hours to evaporate the chlorine so it can avoid harming seeds. To prepare for the paper towel germination, get some gloves, resealable bags, and paper towels. Label your bags by seed variety and lay out a paper towel square for each variety, and spray water on the paper towels to dampen.
Spread your seeds on half of the paper towel, fold over to cover the seeds, and then place the paper towels in a zip lock bags. Seal the bags, leaving about 1-inch of the bag open to let in some oxygen. Place the zip lock bags in a warm area, around 80-85 degrees, with moderate light.
Remember to keep paper towels damp. Germination can take anywhere from a few days to a month, so be patient. Once they develop a small tail or sprout, they are ready to transfer to indoor soil or a green house.
Location, Location, Location
Find a good and warm sunny windowsill. Seedlings prefer at least 6 hours of sunlight, the more the better. Hot pepper seeds need to be coaxed through the germination and transplant stages. Remember they all originated from a tropical environment. But keep in mind you’ll be rewarded with a healthy, robust, prolific plant for your patience.
As they develop their first set of leaves, I’ll use scissors to snip off the weakest one. As they develop their second set of leaves, I’ll snip off all but the healthiest one. If any variety starts to grow tall and too “leggy”, open the window just a little bit to shock the plant with cooler air. This will slow down its growth and make its stem thicker and more conducive to transplant. Once you have healthy seedlings after the germination period, you’re ready for the transplant and growing stage, then the harvesting stage, then my favorite – the cooking and eating stage.
Pepper Joe’s “Best & Worst” Hot Pepper Seed Ranked
- Hottest: Carolina Reaper, Moruga Trinidad Scorpion, 7 Pot Douglah, Primo, Chocolate Bhutlah, and Apocalypse Scorpion.
- Best for small gardens or container planting: Thai, Tabasco, and Black Jalapeno
- Best for dried powder: Cayenne, Thai Sun, Serrano and Charleston.
- Best garden novelty: Peter Pepper. Rated “most pornographic” by Organic Gardening magazine.
- Most abundant yield: Bolivian Rainbow, Early Jalapeno, and Atomic Starfish.
- Pepper Joe’s favorites: Golden Habanero, Ghost Pepper, Italian Pepperoncini .
- Worst: Bulgarian Carrot (Tough skin, no flesh), Rocoto (hard to grow, and a poor producer)
Most varieties available in Pepper Joe’s online store.
How Many Bell Peppers Per Plant?
Standard Bell Pepper
A standard size bell pepper fruit is approximately three by four inches in size but will vary between fruits and plants. Examples of standard size bells include:
- California Wonder
- Gold Standard Yellow
- Yankee Bell
The number of fruits each plant produces is highly dependent on the conditions of the plant. Plants exposed to stress from temperature, inconsistent watering, pest damage, or disease will not produce as many peppers. On average, standard bells produce 6-8 peppers per plant.
Bell peppers of every color are available in medium and miniature versions. These sweet and crunchy baby bells are every bit as delicious and nutritious as their larger siblings. Since they are miniature, each plant produces more fruits.
Medium sized bell peppers have fruits that are about three by three inches in size. Size reflects the number of fruits produced, so medium bell peppers may grow between 10 and 15 fruits.
Miniature bell pepper fruits are about two by two inches in size. These are bite-sized bells. Plants can be very productive pumping out dozens of small fruits.
Encouraging More Production
Healthy plants grow lots of healthy fruit. Encourage your plants to produce more by keeping them healthy. Two key factors in growing healthy peppers are water and temperature. Water consistently and frequently, drip irrigation on a timer is the best option.
Give pepper plants two inches of water per week and adjust for natural precipitation. Do not let the soil dry out completely, but also do not keep it wet. A dampness is what you trying to achieve.
Keep pepper plants between 65-80°F (18-26°C) for best results. If your climate does not allow for this type of dependability, consider growing peppers in a greenhouse or polytunnel.
Sometimes pepper plants do not produce the amount of fruit we expect. Investigate and figure out a solution to this problem. Many gardeners find that hand pollinating their peppers can vastly improve yield.
Pepper flowers are typically self-pollinating, but occasionally it takes a slight jostle from wind or an insect to knock the pollen from the stamen to the pistil. Plants grown indoors are particularly susceptible to low pollination.
Inspect your plants for signs of yellowing, leaf curling, slow or stopped growth, blossoms dropping but no fruit, or wilting. These are signs of stress, deficiency, or disease.
About Peppers (Capsicum sp.)
Peppers appear to have played a role in the diet (and cultures) of the Americas since as early as 7500 BCE, and have been in cultivation for at least 6,000 years. Not surprisingly, a rich culture surrounding peppers developed in places like Mexico, and throughout South America, where they have been in use for so many centuries. They were not known elsewhere in the world until Columbus returned with them to Spain in 1493.
Once the Spanish had colonized Mexico, peppers spread to the Philippines, and then to China. Chilies were introduced to India via the Portuguese colony at Goa. It’s notable that prior to this time, there were no chilies in Indian or South Asian cuisine. By 1650, peppers had spread to the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere. There are now at least 3,000 named types of chilies and other peppers.
At the time of European contact with the Americas, black pepper (derived from the unrelated genus Piper) was an expensive condiment. The word “pepper” was used to describe anything hot. Peppers are broadly divided into two groups; Chili peppers and bell peppers. Both are members of the genus Capsicum, which belongs to the family Solanaceae, making them relatives of tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants. As with tomatoes, the fruit of a pepper plant is technically a berry.
In most of the world, chilies are the preferred type of pepper. Bell peppers were bred to be free of capsaicinoids, the substances that gives chilies their heat. Bell peppers and many of the chilies are members of the species Capsicum annuum, but chilies are also represented by other species including C. frutescens (Tabasco and Thai), C. chinense (habanero and Scotch bonnet), C. baccatum (friar’s hat) and C. pubescens. In a very general sense, the chilies of C. annuum have a wide range of flavours, from grassy to sweet to smoky. C. frutescens deliver pure heat with less range in flavours. And C. chinense can have very fruity undertones, detectable beneath the searing pain they cause. Many cooks of Caribbean food will say, it’s not about the heat, but the flavour their chilies impart.
Bell peppers are often eaten while immature, when they are green, but all varieties will ripen to another colour, and the spectrum now includes red, yellow, orange, white, pink, purple, and brown. As bell peppers ripen, they develop more sweetness and more vitamin C. Green peppers have been described by some people to have a “grassy” flavour, and are not universally appreciated. Many chili peppers are also eaten while green and unripe as well, notably jalapeño chilies.
Chili peppers, of course, are used because of they contain capsaicinoids. The most notable capsaicinoid is called capsaicin, a crystalline substance found almost entirely in the pithy flesh that holds the seeds in place inside the chili. The seeds and skin contain very little, if any, capsaicin. When eaten, capsaicin is detected by heat receptors in the mouth, and the brain responds as though something hot (in terms of temperature) has been consumed. This increases the heart rate, causes perspiration, and the release of endorphins into the blood stream. The result is that (for those that like chilies) the heat “feels good.”
In 1912, American chemist Wilbur Scoville devised what he called the “Scoville Organoleptic Test” as a means to measure the relative hotness or piquancy of chili peppers. Although it is somewhat subjective, the Scoville Scale (as it is known) is still used by growers and makers of hot sauce to rate piquancy by so-called Scoville Heat Units (SHUs).
Scoville would mix the extract of each chili with corn syrup or a solution of sugar and water, and then a panel of five or six independent observers would taste the solution. If they still detected any heat, more sugar syrup would be added – over and over until the rating was 0. Scoville would then judge by what percentage the peppers needed watering down to reach this point. Bell peppers, which contain no capsaicin, have a Scoville rating of 0, while very hot peppers have ratings in the 100,000 to 350,000 SHU range. Scoville’s ratings, it should be noted, were largely based on the spiciness of dried chilies. Raw chilies are less spicy by approximately one order of magnitude. Pure capsaicin is considered to rate 15 million to 16 million SHUs.
Capsaicin is not water soluble, so the best way to reduce the burning sensation in the mouth is to consume dairy products like milk or yoghurt. Milk contains a phosphoprotein that acts as a detergent allowing capsaicin to be washed away. Many studies have been performed on capsaicin and its effects on human health. It seems to play a role in regulating the production of insulin, in the conversion of bad cholesterol, and in weight control for people who are obese. Capsaicin has also been seen to kill cancer cells in laboratory rats.
Chili peppers range from mild to extremely hot. Jalapenos are a good representation of medium heat. Thai Dragon, habanero, and Scotch bonnet chilies are much hotter than jalapeños, while anchos are comparatively mild. In the northeast of India grows a naturally occurring hybrid between C. chinense and C. frutescens, known as the bhut jolokia or Ghost Chili. This little three-inch devil is considered to rate an astonishing 850,000 to 1 million SHUs – some 400 times hotter than Tabasco Sauce, making it one of the hottest chilies ever known. Indeed, the government of India has grown the plants for use in weapons research. At the time of writing, the world record holder for heat is the Carolina Reaper, a hybrid between the Pakistani Naga and the Habanero. It weighs in at a modest 2.2 million SHUs. *
The heat from chili peppers is sensed in the mouth by the receptor protein TRPV-1, which is also responsible for sensing physical heat and pain. The brain receives the pain from capsaicin in the same way it detects when you’ve taken a drink of too-hot tea. But the heat of chilies has more subtle characteristics as well. The heat can be sudden, detectable as soon as a chili is bitten, or it can build. Thai Dragons and their cousins the bird chilies deliver immediate heat, but the habanero takes a moment and then explodes with heat. The heat may also be detected at the tip of the tongue or elsewhere in the mouth. And the duration of the burn can also vary from chili to chili.
Many evolutionary biologists feel that the presence of capsaicinoids in chilies is the result of co-evolution with birds, for birds lack the pain receptors that mammals have, so they do not feel any pain when they eat chilies. The small fruits are nutritious, but the seeds can pass through the gut of a bird unharmed, which makes the bird a very useful means of seed distribution.
In much of the world, food laced with spicy chilies is simply part of the daily routine. In the West, though, the novelty of chilies has led to a vast array of hot sauces. Whole retail outlets can be found that sell only hot sauces and foods that celebrate the chili pepper. Chili con carne is such a popular dish in America, and chili cook-offs have become so ubiquitous that they are now sanctioned by the non-profit International Chili Society.
Chili festivals abound in North America, but perhaps Hatch, New Mexico (which dubs itself the Chili Capital of the World) takes the prize with its annual Hatch Chili Festival, a two-day event in early September that has been running for nearly 40 years. The list of events features live music, a horseshoe tournament, a parade, a charity auction, a rope and bullwhip show, a chili toss, and of course, a chili eating contest.
Peppers grow on short bushes
How to Grow Peppers:
Difficulty: Easy, but an early start is essential. Peppers work well in large containers.
Timing: Peppers need warm temperatures and a long growing season. Start indoors 5-8 weeks before last frost, or in early March on the coast. Transplant when weather is really warm in early June or later. Transplanting early does not make the weather heat up!
Sowing: Sow indoors 1cm (½”) deep. Keep soil as warm as possible: 27°C (80°F) is best, until germination. Seeds sprout in 8-21 days depending on soil temperature. Try to keep seedlings at 18-24°C (64-75°F) in the day, and 16-18°C (61-64°F) at night. Avoid night temperatures below 12°C (55°F). Pepper seeds make take up to three weeks to germinate, so be patient.
Soil: Soil should have abundant phosphorous and calcium, so add lime and compost to the bed three weeks before transplanting. Aim for a pH of around 6.5. Mix ½ cup of complete organic fertilizer under each transplant. Too much nitrogen will produce an abundance of leaves, but fewer fruit. Though peppers will tolerate dry soil, they will only make good growth if kept moist. Grow in full sun.
Growing: Harden off before planting in the garden in mid-June, 45cm (18”) apart. Water in transplants with kelp-based fertilizer. Using plastic mulch with a cloche can increase the temperature a few degrees, and every degree helps. Pinch back growing tips to encourage leaf production. This helps shade peppers and prevents sun-scald in hot summers.
Harvest: When fruit is firm it is ready to pick. But if you wait, the fruit will ripen further turning red, yellow, brown, or purple. The sweetness and Vitamin C content go up dramatically when the fruit changes colour. If you pick while they’re green, the total number of peppers harvested will increase. Fruit that sets after late August will usually not develop or ripen. Pull out the entire bush just before the first frost and hang it upside down in a warm, dry place to ripen hot peppers. Expect 5-10 large bell peppers per well-grown plant, and 20-50 hot peppers per plant.
Storage: Peppers don’t stay fresh and crunchy for more than a few days, even in the refrigerator, so use them while they are in season. Small chiles can be dried if laid on cookie sheets in an airy place. Pickling also works well for smaller peppers.
Seed info: In optimum conditions at least 65% of seeds will germinate. Soil temperature for germination: 24-28°C (75-80°F). Usual seed life: 2 years.
Growing for seed: Isolate individual varieties by at least 30m (100’) if growing for seed.
Pests & Disease: To prevent rot and wilt, plant in well-drained soils and follow a 4-year rotation. If cutworms are a problem, use paper collars at the plant base. Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV): Young growth is malformed and leaves are mottled with yellow. To prevent it, wash hands after handling tobacco, before touching peppers. Control aphids which spread the disease.
Companion Planting: Pepper plants make good neighbours for asparagus, basil, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, oregano, parsley, rosemary, squash, Swiss chard, and tomatoes. Never plant them next to beans, Brassicas, or fennel.
*Update — Since writing this article, an even hotter chili has been discovered! Welsh plant breeder Mike Smith accidentally produced the Dragon’s Breath chili, that is estimated at 2.48 million SHUs!
Banana Peppers – All About Them
The banana pepper is a mild, medium-sized chili pepper with a tangy, slightly sweet taste. It is typically bright yellow, but matures to green, red, or orange.
SCOVILLE HEAT UNITS: 0-500 SHU
What is a Banana Pepper?
The banana pepper is a mild, medium-sized chili pepper with a tangy, slightly sweet taste. It is not considered a hot pepper, offering either no heat or a slight tingle. Compared to the mildest jalapeno pepper, it is 5 times milder, if offering any heat at all.
Also known as the yellow wax pepper or banana chili, the Banana Pepper has a mild, sweet taste that is very popular on many types of foods. It is commonly eaten on pizza, in Greek salads, on sandwiches, or stuffed with meat and/or cheese.
They also add a bit of sweetness to salsa and an interesting flavor, while other peppers add the heat.
They may be pickled or used fresh. Pickled banana peppers are very popular, often confused for pepperoncini peppers. As the name suggests, it is typically a bright yellow or yellow-green, but they may mature to orange or red if left to ripen.
Why are Banana Peppers Called Banana Peppers?
Banana peppers are so named because of their resemblance to actual bananas. Their yellowish color and shape strongly resemble bananas when they are ripe on the plant, so the name is a reference to this similarity.
How Hot is a Banana Pepper?
Banana peppers are not consider hot peppers, giving either no heat at all or a very mild kick at 500 Scoville Heat Units.
Compared to a jalapeno pepper, which measures from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), the hottest banana pepper is actually 5 times milder than the mildest jalapeno peppers. That is quite mild.
Other peppers you might be familiar with in this range include the Anaheim Pepper, which measures from 500 to 1,000 Scoville Heat Units, the Cubanelle Pepper, which ranges from 0 to 1,000 SHU, or the pepperoncini, ranging from 100 to 500 SHU.
Learn more about the Scoville Heat Scale here.
Growing Banana Peppers
I’ve grown banana peppers in my garden on and off over the years and consider them fairly easy to grow. The plants enjoy full sun and they grow with fairly thick walled flesh.
That’s a positive when you cook with them like I do, making them ideal for everyday chopping and slicing, but also for stuffing or pickling peppers. You can cut them into pepper rings and pickle them quite easily.
Treat them like other Capsicum annuum varieties, as they require no special treatments or considerations. Plants will typically reach 1 to 2 feet tall and can be grown in many climates, though like most pepper plants, prefer warmer climates.
I’ve grown them in zone 5 without any issue.
When to Pick Banana Peppers
Pick your banana peppers when they are a vibrant yellow-green in color and the flesh is firm to the touch. Ensure there are no soft spots in or on the pepper skins, and no signs of rotting. You can leave them on the plant to ripen and they will darken to an orange or reddish color, but they are typically picked when yellow or yellow-green.
How Long do Fresh Banana Peppers Last?
Peppers picked fresh from the garden will last 2-3 weeks if stored properly. Place them into a plastic bag and keep them in your refrigerator vegetable drawer. The optimal temperature for storing peppers is between 40-45°F. See my page on How to Store Peppers for further information.
What Can I Substitute for Banana Peppers?
If you are unable to obtain banana peppers, look for the pepperoncini. Pepperoncinis are usually pickled, and they are great in flavor, very similar to banana peppers. In fact, banana peppers are often confused for pepperoncinis.
Fresh pepperoncinis are more difficult to find, however, so you may need to grow them. A more commonly found pepper to use as a substitute would be a small sweet yellow bell pepper or a mild Italian sweet pepper.
The Hungarian Wax Pepper is an excellent substitute for comparable flavor. However, the Hungarian Wax is much hotter, reaching up to 15,000 SHU.
Banana Peppers Vs. Pepperoncinis
While these peppers look very much alike, they different in certain crucial ways. First, banana peppers measure at 1-500 Scoville Heat Units, where Pepperoncinis measure at 100-500 SHU. A small difference, but notable in the scientific world.
Also, banana peppers are usually smooth, where pepperoncinis can have more wrinkly skin, a physical difference.
In flavor, both peppers are sweet, but pepperoncinis have a reported slight bitterness compared to banana peppers.
See also: Pepperoncini Vs. Banana Pepper: a Comparison.
Where Can I Find Banana Pepper Seeds?
You can order seeds online, but seeds are easily found in larger retail stores before growing season. You can either purchase them at Amazon (affiliate link) or check out my Chili Pepper Seeds Resources page.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me or leave a comment below. Thank you. — Mike H.
Try my Stuffed Banana Peppers Recipe.
This post was updated on 8/20/19 to include new photos and information. It was originally published on 9/20/13.