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Capsicum

SCIENTIFIC NAME

Capsicum annuum

CLASSIFICATION

Fruit

SEASON

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

About

Also known as sweet peppers, the capsicum is a sweet tasting, crispy, juicy fruit (yes fruit, not vegetable). Although a close relative of the chilli, the capsicum adds no fire to your tastebuds. The fruit comes in four bright colours, red, green, orange and yellow. A cheerful addition to any dish, this brightly coloured fruit, available throughout the year, is overloaded with goodness, especially Vitamin C.

An intensely sweet tasting, crisp and juicy fruit the capsicum is available all year round.

The two major growing regions are Perth & Surrounds and the Coral Coast.

Perth & Surrounds supply the WA market in Summer and Autumn, while the Coral Coast region supplies in Winter and Spring.

A small amount of intensive greenhouse production is also practiced near Perth.

Tips and Hints
The capsicum is also known as a pepper but it is not hot.

When purchasing, always look for fruit that is plump and crisp with a shiny firm skin.

Capsicum can be prone to superficial blemishes at some times of the year such as fine cracking and scarring on the tender skin caused by cold winds when growing, and uneven development of lobes that give the fruit a misshapen or flattened shape. None of these conditions affect the eating or storage quality. If you are unsure, for best advice, speak with local Great Greengrocer.

For both red and green capsicums, the lighter the colour, the sweeter the taste and the darker the colour, the more peppery, so find your favorite flavour!

Fully coloured red capsicum tastes sweetest, but because it is the most matured of all colours approaching, dehydrates quickly if not properly stored.

Capsicum lose moisture quickly through their thin skin and it is best to store them in a thin plastic bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator as soon as you get home. The optimum storage temperature is 7 degrees C and 95% relative humidity. They can store well up to 14 days in these conditions.

Once cut, the surface dehydrates very rapidly and moisture loss is enhanced. Again, store in a refrigerator in a plastic container with a sealed lid to keep moisture in. Placing cut capsicum in a lettuce crisper is also a good way of keeping it crisp for 1 – 2 days.

Capsicum is not suitable for freezing, because the walls collapse when thawed out, losing their juicy texture.

Tips and Hints
Choose capsicums with stems intact.

The Capsicum is extremely versatile and can be enjoyed raw in salads, salsas, roasted, grilled, stir fried, baked and stuffed.

Firstly wash under running water. To prepare for cooking or salads ensure seeds are removed and the whitish tissue they are attached to. Capsicum seeds are not harmful if consumed, but they detract from the flavour and juiciness of a salad.

Capsicum rings or slices of different colours brighten up a salad, but they can wilt quickly after cutting, looking unsightly and having a poor texture if allowed to wilt. Prepare the salad as late as possible before planned consumption, and cover the bowl with clear plastic. Overwrap and return to the refrigerator as soon as the salad has been prepared to minimise dehydration.

These conditions are not so critical for cooked capsicum to be used in a pasta or salsa dish because the fruit loses its moisture content during cooking.

Tips and Hints
Slow roast a capsicum for an intense sweeter taste.
To remove skin, roast or grill until skin bubbles. Once cool enough to handle, peel skin off.

The Capsicum is extremely versatile and can be enjoyed raw in salads, salsas, roasted, grilled, stir fried, baked and stuffed.

Firstly wash under running water. To prepare for cooking or salads ensure seeds are removed and the whitish tissue they are attached to. Capsicum seeds are not harmful if consumed, but they detract from the flavour and juiciness of a salad.

Capsicum rings or slices of different colours brighten up a salad, but they can wilt quickly after cutting, looking unsightly and having a poor texture if allowed to wilt. Prepare the salad as late as possible before planned consumption, and cover the bowl with clear plastic. Overwrap and return to the refrigerator as soon as the salad has been prepared to minimise dehydration.

These conditions are not so critical for cooked capsicum to be used in a pasta or salsa dish because the fruit loses its moisture content during cooking.

Tips and Hints
Slow roast a capsicum for an intense sweeter taste.
To remove skin, roast or grill until skin bubbles. Once cool enough to handle, peel skin off.

Capsicums are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. They are a good source of Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Potassium and Manganese, and a very good source of Dietary Fibre, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin B6 and Folate.

Brightly colored capsicums, whether green, red, orange or yellow, are rich sources of some of the best nutrients available. Capsicums are excellent sources of vitamin C and vitamin A, These antioxidants work together to effectively neutralize free radicals, which can travel through the body causing damage to cells.

Capsicums are one of the few foods that contain lycopene, a carotenoid whose consumption has been correlated with lower levels of prostate cancer and cancers of the cervix, bladder and pancreas. Recent studies suggest that individuals whose diets are low in lycopene-rich foods are at greater risk for developing these types of cancers.

For people worried about colon cancer, the fibre found in capsicums can help to reduce the amount of contact that colon cells have with cancer-causing toxins found in certain foods or produced by certain gut bacteria. In addition, consumption of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folic acid, all found in capsicums, is associated with a significantly reduced risk of colon cancer.

CAPSICUM , RAW GREEN RED
Nutrient Value per 100 g Value per 100 g
Proximates
Energy, including dietary fibre 92 kJ 106 kJ
Moisture 93.2 g 92.2 g
Protein 1.6 g 1.5 g
Nitrogen 0.26 g 0.24 g
Fat 0.1 g 0.2 g
Ash 0.2 g 0.4 g
Dietary fibre 2.4 g 1.8 g
Fructose 1 g 1.9 g
Glucose 1.3 g 1.7 g
Sucrose 0.2 g 0 g
Total sugars 2.5 g 3.5 g
Available carbohydrate, without sugar alcohols 2.5 g 3.5 g
Available carbohydrate, with sugar alcohols 2.5 g 3.5 g
Organic Acids
Malic acid 0.1 g 0.1 g
Citric acid 0.1 g 0.2 g
Minerals
Arsenic (As) 1.5 ug 1.5 ug
Cadmium (Cd) 0.8 ug 0.8 ug
Calcium (Ca) 9 mg 4 mg
Copper (Cu) 0.072 mg 0.091 mg
Fluoride (F) 88.13 ug 0 ug
Iron (Fe) 0.58 mg 0.3 mg
Magnesium (Mg) 10 mg 6 mg
Manganese (Mn) 0.133 mg 0.139 mg
Phosphorus (P) 20 mg 28 mg
Potassium (K) 165 mg 174 mg
Selenium (Se) 0.4 ug 0.5 ug
Sodium (Na) 2 mg 2 mg
Tin (Sn) 0.4 ug 0.4 ug
Zinc (Zn) 0.19 mg 0.19 mg
Vitamins
Thiamin (B1) 0.033 mg 0.035 mg
Riboflavin (B2) 0.033 mg 0.044 mg
Niacin (B3) 0.54 mg 0.88 mg
Niacin Equivalents 0.81 mg 1.13 mg
Biotin (B7) 2.4 ug 0 ug
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0 mg 0.12 mg
Pyridoxine (B6) 0 mg 0.3 mg
Folate, natural 10 ug 60 ug
Total folates 10 ug 60 ug
Dietary folate equivalents 10 ug 60 ug
Alpha carotene 16 ug 9 ug
Beta carotene 161 ug 282 ug
Cryptoxanthin 11 ug 2011 ug
Beta carotene equivalents 175 ug 1292 ug
Retinol equivalents 29 ug 215 ug
Vitamin C 98 mg 152 mg
Alpha tocopherol 0 mg 3.9 mg
Beta tocopherol 0 mg 0.2 mg
Gamma tocopherol 0 mg 0.3 mg
Vitamin E 0.05 mg 4.03 mg

Source:

NUTTAB 2010(Food Standards Australia New Zealand); The University of New South Wales; Professor Heather Greenfield and co-workers at the University of New South Wales; Tables of composition of Australian Aboriginal Foods (J Brand-Miller, KW James and PMA Maggiore).

Tips and Hints:

Aids in the prevention of colon cancer