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The Peppers

April 25, 1998|JULIE BAWDEN DAVIS

Whether you have a penchant for sweet and mild or prefer your peppers hot as fire, there's a pepper for you. The following pepper plants are available at the Green Scene this weekend.

Sweet Peppers

Sweet peppers come in a variety of shapes and ripen to many colors, including red, purple, yellow and orange. Most sweet pepper plants grow 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 feet tall.

* Big Bertha. Great for stuffing, this large, elongated bell pepper has thick walls and is green when ripe. The fruit are 6 to 7 inches long and can weigh up to a pound.

* Cubanelle. Flavorful pepper is a favorite of cooks and is often used in salads and for frying and baking. It is thin-walled and elongated, growing to 6 inches. When ripe it is yellow-green, sometimes turning to orange-red.

* Cadice. An excellent choice for coastal gardens because it bears fruit in cooler temperatures. This bell-shaped pepper also does well in containers. It is large and crunchy and ripens to a glossy red, although it also tastes sweet at the green stage.

* Gypsy. Prolific plant puts out plenty of elongated pale yellow 6 1/2-inch fruit that mature to orange-red. It makes a great addition to salads, as it's very sweet.

* Jackpot. A heavy producer of 8-inch-long and 4-inch-wide sweet fruit with thick walls that are great for stuffing. Peppers ripen to golden yellow.

* Jingle Bells. Plant produces lots of miniature bell peppers that ripen to red. Make great hors d'oeuvres.

* Purple Beauty: Small, blocky bell is 3 to 3 1/2 inches long and turns purple when ripe. It has a spicy, sweet flavor and keeps its color when cooked.

* Vidi. A thick-walled green pepper that turns intensely red when mature. The peppers are 6 to 8 inches long and crunchy.

Chile Peppers

There are a wide variety of chile peppers available, from mildly hot to fiery. Plants range in size and growth habit, from ground covers to small shrubs.

* Anaheim. This richly flavored popular chile is often used to make rellanos. It is a 7-inch-long mild and meaty chile that ripens to red.

* Ancho. Probably the mildest of the hot peppers, this 4-inch long heart-shaped chile pepper turns a reddish brown when ripe.

* Cascabella. Good for pickling, this relatively mild thick-walled chile has shiny 1 1/2-inch yellow fruit that ripens to orange and bright red. Very prolific.

* Garden salsa. A relatively large 8- to 9-inch medium-mild pepper that is perfect for salsa, because it has just the right amount of heat. Peppers mature to red, although they are often picked green for salsa.

* Habanero. Three hundred times hotter than a jalapeno, this is among the hottest peppers. The 1 1/2-inch peppers go from green to orange. The plant is large, reaching 3 1/2 feet in height.

* Hungarian wax. This medium-hot pepper has 7-inch canary yellow peppers that mature to red. It is used fresh and for pickling.

* Jalapeno. This popular, fiery 3-inch-long pepper matures from green to red. It's used fresh and cooked.

* Thai dragon. This 3-inch-long extremely hot pepper is green, ripening to red. It has a nutty taste and is often used in Asian stir-fry.

For everything you need to know about peppers, pick up a copy of "The Pepper Lady's Pocket Pepper Primer," by Jean Andrews (University of Texas Press, $17.95, 1998, [800] 252-3206.)

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