Capsicums are the taste of colour. They originated in South America and in 1585 were taken to Hungary where the red variety became synonymous with Hungarian cooking — in the form of paprika.
Whether they’re green, red, orange, yellow, purple or even white, capsicums — they’re sometimes called bell peppers or sweet peppers — should not be confused with chilli peppers which are usually very much smaller. They are all members of the same family but chilli peppers contain ‘capsaicin’ the ingredient that makes chillies hot.
Besides their different hues, capsicums can vary in shape. There are very long varieties called palermos or king sweeties, as well as mini ones — enough for one bite. Green capsicums aren’t as sweet as the reds and yellows.
These highly nutritious seed pods are excellent cooked or raw in salads. To prepare capsicums, remove the stems, cores, seeds and the thick pale ribs inside. The seeds are not generally hot but they are hard and do not have much mouth appeal.
Capsicums make wonderful receptacles for other foods. Stuff them with corn, savoury rice, chopped vegetables, eggs, cheese and/or minced meats, then bake. They may also be sliced and stir-fried and they add interest to preserves.