cherry pepper

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Also known as

Pimento, Pimiento

Description

The cherry pepper is a small, sweet, and mild to medium pepper that derives its name from its shape and appearance. When fully ripe, cherry peppers are a luscious bright red, delightfully round and about the size of a cherry tomato. Most cherry peppers are no more than an inch to two inches (2.54-5.08 cm) in diameter. The flesh of the pimento is sweet, succulent and more aromatic than that of the red bell pepper.You may find the cherry pepper labeled as the Hungarian cherry pepper, since they are popular in Hungarian dishes.

Cherry peppers are an ideal size for pickling or brining, and they also make for an excellent garnish on a dish. They shouldn't be thought of as merely good for pickling or for decoration, since they are quite tasty. There are also green cherry peppers, which means they have been picked before they were fully ripened.

Chopped cherry pepper

They can also be diced or chopped into small cubes, as part of a fresh salsa. The chopped cherry pepper form an interesting contrast to tomatillos, which are about the same size and are used in most salsa recipes.
Sliced cherry pepper

While pickling is certainly a viable way to treat cherry peppers, consider slicing them in halves for green or pasta salads. You can use either pickled or fresh peppers for this purpose. They're also excellent added to three bean salads, on top of pizza, or in sweet and sour dishes.

How to select

It's a good idea to taste your peppers to see is you've purchased medium or mild ones. If the pepper tastes too hot for the dish you plan, removing the seeds normally reduces the heat. When selecting cherry peppers at the market, try to look for firm ones with smooth skins and no blemishes.

Culinary uses

· A popular trend with cherry peppers is to make deep-fried poppers. These are normally peppers that have been filled with cheese, coated and fried and you can simply pop them in the mouth. Filling the cherry pepper is easily accomplished if you remove the stem. Alternately, you can stuff or fill them by slicing them in half.
· If you'd like to reduce the fat content of your pepper dishes, instead of deep-frying, consider halving cherry peppers and filling them with a little cheese and bread crumbs, and then baking them. These bright little gems inspire a host of stuffed or filled recipes, and are the perfect size for an amuse bouche or appetizer.
· These pimento peppers are also the familiar red stuffing found in prepared green olives. The pimento was originally cut into small pieces and hand stuffed into fresh green olives to complement the strong flavor of the olive.
· Cherry pepper are commonly used for making pimento cheese, potato salad, snack food and sandwich filling.

How to store

Store fresh cherry peppers unwashed in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Wrap them in paper towel or place in a paper bag. Avoid storing them in plastic as trapped moisture will hasten spoilage. Check your peppers often and discard any that develop soft or dark spots.

Health Benefits

· Cherry peppers can provide pain relief for migraine and sinus headaches. Capsaicin, the chemical that makes chili peppers hot, is known anti inflammatory.
· May reduce risk of heart attack by reducing platelet thickness and making them less "sticky." This may reduce the risk of heart attacks and other blood clots. Cherry pepper may also have a positive effect on cholesterol.
· It is believed to help restore a poor appetite, heal digestive problems, and support circulatory problems.




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