We see the color difference and the occasional difference in price but what does it really mean?
On our farm, Purple and Yellow peppers start and end the same color. They do have a slightly different flavor profile and might be used slightly differently depending on what you are cooking that evening. Purple peppers are green underneath and that purple skin and can turn a little green depending on how you cook them and for how long.
Yellow Peppers (Also called Lemon) – Mild and sweet flavor, but not quite as sweet as reds. They still have a slightly bitter taste, but not much grass flavor. They certainly will brighten up a veggie tray or salad. There is only a few yellow veggies that are normally eaten raw!
Purple Peppers – Semi-sweet and semi bitter flavor. They have a bit of grass to them as they are somewhat green as well. They can easily be eaten raw or cooked in any dish. They look really cool as a stuffed pepper!
Green Peppers – Slightly bitter flavor raw, but sweeten up as they cook. A green pepper is a red pepper that hasn’t been able to completely ripen on the plant! They have a grassy flavor that lends itself to combining with onions, garlic, celery, and carrots! Their flesh remains stable under heat and makes a great stuffed pepper.
Orange Peppers – Semi sweet flavor in between a green and red. An orange pepper is a green pepper that has not fully ripened yet. They go good with just about anything and can be easily eaten raw or cooked. Since they are more ripe than a green they can overcook easy.
Red Peppers – A green pepper that has been left to fully ripen on the vine. This is the reason the cost is usually more than a green pepper. They are the sweetest and have very little of the grassy flavor left of a green pepper. Much like the orange pepper, they can overcook easily because they are so ripe, but can lend themselves to a delicious stuffed pepper, especially if the stuffing is a little more savory.
This is not to say that you can’t use these interchangeably. These flavors are mostly nuances and probably won’t be detected easily. But there are differences and someone with a discernable pallet (like a farmer!) will be able to taste it.
Most people don’t realize that a pepper turns from green, to orange, and finally to red on the vine and that it’s the same seed. On our farm the Lemons and Purples are a different varietal.