Colorful, tasty fruits – or rather berries! – in the warm season, we learned the 5 tricks to prepare and above all to digest the peppers. Protagonists of tables, recipes and grills, even if i pepperoni they are on sale all year round, it is in the maturity of the summer season that they should be parted and enjoyed – as with all fruit and vegetables, seasonality is important.
The pepper is normally grown in flat, silty and sandy lands. Sowing takes place between December and early April, while it is harvested, strictly by hand, from the end of July. In August the apotheosis begins and it is then in September that we can still buy those nostrani, grown in open fields in the regions of our South, more tasty. In the other months of the year, peppers grown in greenhouses are marketed, or they come from abroad. In Italy, in fact, lately the imports have exceeded the exports, due to the constant reduction of the cultivated surfaces.
How to proceed with their choice and purchase, then?
At the time of purchase, choose the peppers with the shiny and well stretched peel, with the firm pulp to the touch, without roughness and dents, with the cut of the peduncle quite fresh. If you do not use them right away, you can keep them in the lower part of the refrigerator even for a week.
There are many types of peppers, also because each year new varieties or selected hybrids are added to the traditional ones. Commercially sweet peppers are distinguished by their shape ("long" or "square") and color (green, red or yellow). In general, the red peppers have thick and crunchy pulp, the yellow ones are more tender and juicy, the green ones have a more herbaceous flavor. The Slow Food presidium watches over the Lungo, renamed Corno di Bue: intense yellow or bright red, conical shape and dimensions that exceed 20 centimeters.
Square of Asti: it can be red or yellow, it has a very fleshy and sweet pulp and is recognized by the typical shape that gives it its name, with four lobes at the base. For this reason it is an ideal "basket" for stuffed rice or meat, to be cooked baked. In Piedmont, its territory of origin, it is eaten raw in pinzimonio or with the typical bagna cauda.
Pepper of Carmagnola: it is cultivated with traditional methods on about 200 hectares in the territories of the province of Turin and Cuneo and harvested from the end of July to the end of October. There are four types, but the most common are the "Corno" or "Lungo" and the "Quadrato", both yellow or red. These too can be tasted raw, but they are also excellent roasted in the oven or in the classic combination of Piedmontese cuisine with rabbit.
Pepper of Pontecorvo Dop: cultivated in the province of Frosinone, where it is harvested until the end of October, it has an elongated shape and a bright red color, but can have green streaks up to 40% of its surface. With an intense and slightly spicy flavor, it is characterized by a particularly thin skin, which makes it more digestible. Excellent consumed fresh (in salads or in pinzimonio), but also cooked (for peperonata and caponata).
Friggitello: small (about 10 cm), of an intense green color and tapered, its production is concentrated in the South, mainly in Campania, as well as in Puglia and Basilicata, where it is harvested as it matures until the end of September. Characterized by a sweet taste, it can be used raw in mixed salads, or in the classic peperonata. Traditionally, in the Neapolitan cuisine comes fried in a pan (hence the name): those young, particularly sweet, can be fried whole, without eliminating seeds and peduncle.
Cornelius: it's a new variety of pepper, selected from the traditional "corna di toro", with which it has in common the elongated shape and the intense and brilliant color: yellow, red or red with green streaks. The peel is thin, so that it is not necessary to peel it, the flesh is meaty, crunchy and very sweet. Characteristics that make it ideal both for raw consumption, for greater digestibility, and in the kitchen, for the simplicity of preparation. It is produced in Sicily, with the integrated production method.
How to clean
The internal white seeds must be eliminated, as are the more fibrous ribs. Also the petiole must be eliminated, unless it is used to lift the cap in the filled versions. If the peel is thick, remove it with a potato peeler: the peppers will turn out more digestible. Another method is to put them on the plate lined with wet and squeezed baking paper and toast them (180 °) for about 40 minutes, turning them often. Let them cool in a bag, then peel them: you will get perfect and well-cooked layers.
updated August 2019
from Emanuela Di Pasqua
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