QUESTION. If you leave green peppers on the vine do they turn red? Where do orange and yellow peppers fit in? Do they all start green or are they from different seeds?
ANSWER. Sweet bell peppers can be orange, yellow, red, purple, brown, black, ivory or green, depending on the stage of ripeness and the variety.
Green bell peppers are fully developed, but not ripe.
All sweet bell peppers start out green, and change color as they ripen. (They also get sweeter).
What can be confusing, is that there is also a variety that is green when ripe.
The color depends on the specific variety, the most common variety is red when ripe.
So, green sweet bell peppers start out green and are green when ripe.
Red, yellow, etc. sweet bell peppers start out green and turn red or yellow when ripe.
The green bell pepper you find at the store are usually an unripe green sweet bell pepper… or could be unripe red.
They will not be any of the other color varieties in the green stage because the other colors can be sold at a much higher price, so they are always allowed to ripen before being sold. The additional time it takes to ripen and change color accounts for part of the reason they are more expensive. Also, since they are ripe, they have a shorter storage time.
QUESTION. I was told that when choosing bell peppers I should look for one with four bumps on the bottom because it is a “female” pepper and thus will be sweeter. The “male” pepper has only three bumps. Is this factual???
ANSWER. Peppers have complete flowers – that is both male and female parts in the same flower.
Male and female fruit can only come from plant types that have separate male and female flowers, and with a few exceptions, only the female flowers produce fruit. (one of the exceptions – some papaya male flowers will set fruit).
The number of lobes is related to the specific variety of pepper. There are varieties of peppers that produce 2, 3-4, or 3-5 lobed peppers. The 4 lobed ‘bell’ pepper was (and is) more popular in the U.S., so plants have been breed for this characteristic.