In the sequel of the text on interesting things about our beloved peppers, we discover how the hot pepper was made and who can eat it without even feeling the recognizable burning, which is the hottest pepper in the world, how to keep peppers while keeping them fresh, and why our local one, Kurtovka Kapija, is the queen of ajvar. Read here the first part of the text – 10 interesting things about peppers – I part
6. Vitamin C and beta carotene are credited for the sweet taste of red peppers
As well as the complete absence of capsaicin, the ingredient that makes peppers hot. However, there is a difference in taste depending on the color of sweet pepper, so the red ones are the sweetest just because of the high concentration of vitamin C and of beta-carotene, credited for the red color. As it matures, the pepper changes its color from green, through yellow, to bright red, when it is at the top of foods rich in vitamin C, e.g. even two to four times more than orange.
7. The pepper became hot in self-defense
It is believed that capsaicin emerged in hot peppers as a defensive mechanism of the plant to prevent the development of fungus and of infections by microbes that can be transmitted by insects. So it was noticed that in those areas where are more insects naturally, hotter peppers grow.
8. Who can eat pepper and not get a burning sensation
The main culprit for the feeling of fire in the mouth when we bite the hot pepper, capsaicin, only affects mammals. For example, birds do not feel this hot taste at all and therefore have one of the greatest roles in spreading wild peppers, by spreading their seeds.
9. The hottest pepper in the world
While some of mild pepper varieties contain between 1-100 Scoville heat units that measure the content of capsaicin, and average hot peppers between 30,000 – 50,000, the world’s hottest pepper called Carolina Reaper reaches even up to 2,2 million of these units. The level of capsaicin in this pepper is so high that it can really burn and, as one of the stories says, the second in line, called Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, with its even up to 2 million units, used to burn through protective gloves of the people who were picking it. We will yet stick to our good local hot varieties.
10. The queen of ajvar
The pepper we select and that we love most is native of these regions as of ours and is crucial for the well-known rich taste and the quality of ajvar. Named Kurtovska Kapija, this pepper is one of the old varieties of red peppers whose seeds have been thoroughly cultivated for centuries by diligent vegetable growers of the Southeast Balkans. With an intensive red colour and robust, sweet smelling and fleshy fruits, this pepper has been classed in the ranks of the so-called ajvarka since ancient times. By the name Kapija have been marked all peppers of the elongated shape that narrow near the top, and whose body is mostly flat. It is its characteristic of, most commonly, two-sided body that makes our Kurtovska Kapija ideal for even baking and perfect peeling. During baking, its fleshy fruit doesn’t lose much of water, which further distinguishes it as the best pepper for ajvar, whose original recipe, apart from peppers, contains only three more ingredients – one kilo of these peppers, with just a little oil, salt and vinegar, gives 250g of ajvar. And what kind of it! All thanks to the divine taste and aroma of Kurtovska Kapija pepper, the type cultivated at the foot and in the environment of the clean and untouched nature of Kopaonik, whose fertile land and climate especially favor it.
Kopaonik, with its subalpine climate, is known for its number of sunny days, even up to 200 per year, its beneficial thermo-mineral sources, precious ores and minerals which make the land additionally abundant. In fact, one of the largest sites of zeolite, a group of powerful minerals that Ancient Greeks called “the stone of life”, is located right here, in our Igroš, a small mountain town at the foot of the sunny mountain where we make our ajvar, just as our grandmothers have used to make it since forever.
11. And bonus advice from our kitchen: how to keep pepper fresh
You have probably noticed that green and yellow varieties can keep freshness longer than those red ones. Whole and unwashed peppers in the fridge will keep freshness for up to a week. If you don’t need a whole pepper, cut it in half in width and put the upper part of the fruit with the pedicle and seeds back in the fridge, and it will stay fresh for somewhat longer time. Generally, once they are cut, peppers lose their freshness quicker, so either use the rests the next day or freeze them.
A pepper can be frozen either chopped, or whole and already cleaned, blanched and ready to be filled. You can also freeze hot peppers, which you can easily take from the freezer piece by piece when you need them. Cut them off while still frozen, or grate them while frozen and sprinkle them on the food, giving the food, apart from a better aroma, a better appearance too.
You can read the first part of the text here – 10 interesting things about peppers – Part I
Enjoy your reading, and if you have some more interesting things about peppers, share them here with us.