Belonging to the Capsicum genus, peppers are distinguished by their varying heat levels, which are measured using the Scoville scale. Bell peppers, or sweet peppers, have a Scoville rating of zero, meaning they lack the spicy capsaicin compound. They're crisp, sweet, and come in a rainbow of colours, from green to red, yellow, orange, and even purple. Hot peppers, on the other hand, can range from mildly spicy, like jalapeños, to blazingly hot, like the Carolina Reaper. In Alberta's climate, both types of peppers are primarily grown in greenhouses or as summer annuals, benefiting from the warm season.


Peppers have a long history that spans continents. Indigenous peoples in Central and South America have cultivated and cherished these plants for thousands of years. Their use and cultivation have remained a consistent practice among these communities. European explorers brought peppers back to their homelands, and from there, their popularity spread globally. In Alberta, as diverse communities established roots, the demand and appreciation for both bell and hot peppers grew. Today, they're integral to many cultural dishes and festivals in the province.

Ways To Cook

The culinary applications of bell and hot peppers in Alberta are vast. Bell peppers are often enjoyed raw in salads or as crunchy vessels for dips. They're also stuffed with various fillings, roasted to enhance their sweetness, or added to stir-fries and casseroles. Hot peppers, given their heat, are used more judiciously. They can be diced into salsas, blended into hot sauces, or used to spice up a dish. When cooking with particularly fiery varieties, it's wise to wear gloves and ensure good ventilation. Pickling is another popular method, with many Albertan households preserving both bell and hot peppers to enjoy their flavours year-round. Lastly, dried hot peppers or smoked varieties, like chipotles, offer depth and heat to sauces, stews, and marinades.

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