Color differences are only the beginning.
Peppers come in all sorts of colors, but the two most prevalent are, of course, read and green. Whether you’re talking about sweet bell peppers or one of the hotter chilies, these colors tend to dominate. So are there more differences between these chilies than their outward hue? In fact, there are, but perhaps for different reasons than you may think. Let’s break it down in another PepperScale Showdown.
Red Pepper Vs. Green Pepper
Are red peppers and green peppers the same pepper?
They typically are. The main difference – which creates the color difference – is the life of the pepper on the vine. Peppers typically mature from green to red, with a wide variety of beautiful colors occurring naturally in-between these two extremes. We say typically because hybrids have been developed that buck this trend, like the Staysgreen bell pepper which keeps its green hue for the entire growing season. But still, if you see a red pepper, it’s safe to say it’s the fully ripened version of the variety you are considering.
Do green peppers taste different than red peppers?
They do. That extra time on the vine tends to sweeten peppers, whether you’re looking at a bell, a jalapeño or a ghost pepper. Green peppers taste a little more bitter and bright in comparison. Green peppers are often also crisper than red peppers which can make a big difference in certain meals.
For chilies, there’s an extra twist. There’s more capsaicin in red peppers than green peppers, and that means the red varieties of the same pepper will tend to be hotter. When you look at a chili’s Scoville heat range on the pepper scale, the red version will tend to live in the upper portions of that range while the unripened green variety will tend to live at the lower end.
Are red peppers healthier for you than green peppers?
If red peppers are healthier, why do we see more green peppers in the supermarket?
That’s partly to do with taste and partly to do with profit. Most people tend to prefer the brighter bite and crispness of the green pepper. It tends to be more versatile in the kitchen, from salads and sandwiches to stir-fry and stuffed. Green chilies, too, tend to be the milder option of the two, as long as you’re talking the same chili type. So more people buy green peppers – whether sweet or hot.
Match that against the fact that red peppers take more care and money to grow (they are longer on the vine), and there’s simply a much larger profit margin in green peppers than red peppers. That’s why red peppers are usually more expensive at the grocers than green peppers – to help recuperate the operational the cost it took to grow them to full maturity.
So whether you’re considering the green or red bell, jalapeño, or something more extreme, consider these differences carefully. If you want a sweeter flavor with a bigger health benefit, go red pepper. If you prefer your peppers to be at their optimal crispness with a more bitter, grassier flavor then go green pepper. And if you’re talking about two chilies from the same vine, that red one will likely give you a bigger kick too.