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Ten Neat Things Quiz - Peppers
by Shauna Dobbie
by Dorothy Dobbie

The Local Gardener magazines, Ontario Gardener, Manitoba Gardener and Alberta Gardener, are published by Pegasus Publications Inc.

Drawing on her 30 years' experience as a senior executive in the magazine publishing industry, Dorothy launched Manitoba Gardener in 1998, initially running the business out of her home. Two years later, Dorothy's daughter Shauna, living in Ontario, jumped into the fray with Ontario Gardener. And two years after that, they started Alberta Gardener. Visit us at and register for our "Ten Neat things" newsletter. Watch Shaw TV for garden tips and Listen to CJOB for the Gardener Sundays at 9:08

August 1, 2010


How do you get peppers to ripen off the vine?

True or False.

  1. Black pepper is the dried, ground seed of black bell peppers.
  2. Red bell peppers are actually riper green bell peppers.
  3. To get peppers to ripen off the vine, store them with apples.
  4. Ripe bell peppers are best stored at room temperature.
  5. When it comes to climate for growing peppers, the hotter the better.
  6. You shouldn't direct-sow peppers in your garden.
  7. Hot chilies were unknown in India, Korea and China's Szechuan province before 1492.
  8. Keep crows out of your garden by planting hot peppers throughout.
  9. Chili pepper leaves are lethal for human consumption.
  10. Peppers are berries.


  1. False. The spice and the vegetable are related only in name. Bell peppers and the like are from the genus Capsicum. Peppercorns, black, green, pink and whatever else, come from trees of the genus Piper. Cayenne pepper, however, is the dried and ground fruit of chili peppers and paprika is the dried and ground fruit of sweet bell peppers.
  2. True. Yellow and orange bell peppers start out green, too. Ripening these fruits, in addition to giving them colour, makes them sweeter and higher in beta carotene and Vitamin C.
  3. False. Apples give off ethylene gas, which stimulates ripening in many fruits. Peppers, however, are barely affected by ethylene. It's better to keep them at room temperature (20 to 25 degrees Celsius) in high humidity (95 percent or higher) until they ripen.
  4. False. As noted in answer 3, peppers continue to ripen at room temperature. They're also prone to water loss at warm temperatures and they'll start to shrivel. The fridge, however, is not the perfect answer either; after about two weeks below temperatures of 5 degrees Celsius (your fridge should be between 1 and 3 degrees Celsius to prevent most foods from spoiling) peppers start to show signs of chilling injury. The optimal storage temperature is 7.5 degrees Celsius, which will keep peppers fresh for up to seven weeks. Unless you have a special climate controlled room for your peppers, store them in the fridge and used them within a week or two.
  5. False. Peppers like temperatures of 21 to 27 degrees Celsius during the day and 15 to 21 degrees at night. When the daytime temperatures soar above 32, young pepper plants may drop their blossoms. If the forecast is for temperatures significantly higher or lower than the ideals, your peppers could use a little protection.
  6. True. It just isn't hot enough for long enough here to get peppers from seed to fruit outdoors. The soil needs to be a minimum temperature of 15 degrees Celsius for germination and the plants won't survive dips in air temperature. Optimal soil temperature for germination is 23 to 29 degrees Celsius.
  7. True. Chilies are a New World plant and they were unknown in Asia before Europeans introduced them there, and unknown in Europe before Columbus brought them back from the Americas.
  8. False. Birds are virtually unaffected by the capsicum that gives peppers their heat. In fact, there's a birdseed on the market that is sprayed with hot pepper oil to keep squirrels away; the varmints don't like the taste and the birds don't notice much difference.
  9. False. Peppers are members of the deadly nightshade family, along with potatoes and tomatoes, whose leaves and roots are poisonous. Chili leaves, however, are used in Filipino cooking and served as cooked greens in some Asian cuisines. Apparently the taste is quite bitter.
  10. True. In a disconnect with common parlance that could only have been perpetrated by botanists, strawberries and raspberries aren't technically berries but peppers are.

8-10 correct: Hot!
5-7 correct: Sweet.
Fewer than 5 correct: Blighted.

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