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Vegetable of the Month: Chili Peppers
Hot peppers (chilies) are often used to spice up dishes, and they are especially popular in ethnic cuisine including Mexican, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Arab and Spanish cooking. Chilies are an excellent source of vitamin C if you can withstand their powerful bite.

 
Chili Peppers
Serving Size 1/2 cup (75g) 46g
Amount Per Serving

% Daily Value

Calories 30  
Calories from Fat 0g  
Total Fat 0g 0%
  Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 5mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 2%
  Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
  Sugars 4g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A  20%
Vitamin C 300%
Calcium 2%
Iron 6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

   

Contrary to popular belief, the hottest part of the chili pepper is not the seeds but where the seed attaches to the white membrane inside the pepper. This area has the highest concentration of capsaicinoids. Capsaicinoids are flavorless, odorless substances that act on pain receptors in the mouth and throat. Capsaicin is the primary capsaicinoid. Capsaicinoids can be found throughout the flesh of chili peppers though their concentration varies in different areas so that one part of a pepper may be hot and another part of the same pepper quite mild.

The seeds are often hot because they are in such close contact with the white membrane.

There are several varieties of chili peppers (see box below) and each differs in flavor and heat intensity. Even within each variety, there may differences in how ‘hot’ each particular chili is. Typically, larger chilies are more mild because they contain less seeds and white membrane in proportion to their size. Most varieties can be found dried, canned, or fresh.

Fruit of the Month: Figs

Figs, one of mankind’s oldest fruits, is only now receiving its due attention in homes across the United States. Although considered a fruit, the fig is actually a flower inverted into itself. They are the only fruit to ripen on the tree. Originally native from Turkey to northern India, the fig fruit spread to many of the Mediterranean countries. The primary producers of dried figs today are the United States, Turkey, Greece, and Spain. This highly nutritious fruit arrived in the United States by Spanish missionaries settling in Southern California in 1759. Fig trees were soon planted throughout the state.

 
Figs
Serving Size 1/2 cup raw (74g)

Amounts Per Serving % Daily Value
Calories 90  
Calories from Fat 0  
Total Fat 0g 0%
 Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 8%
  Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
  Sugars 11g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A 15%
Vitamin C 25%
Calcium 0%
Iron 2%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

   

Varieties

There are hundreds of fig varieties but the following are most commonly found in today’s markets.

The Calimyrna Fig: Is known for its nut-like flavor and golden skin. This type is commonly eaten as is.

The Mission Fig: Was named for the mission fathers who planted the fruit along the California coast. This fig is a deep purple which darkens to a rich black when dried.

The Kadota Fig: Is the American version of the original Italian Dattato fig, that is thick-skinned with a creamy amber color when ripe. Practically seedless, this fig is often canned and dried.

The Brown Turkey Fig: has copper-colored skin, often with hints of purple, and white flesh that shades to pink in the center. This variety is used exclusively for the fresh fig market.

Fig varieties and photos courtesy of the California Fig Advisory Board


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