Peppers

Before purchasing, discover everything you need to know about pepper varieties, grades and standards, and storage and handling.

Popular Sweet and Hot Chili Pepper Varieties

Variety Primary Applications and Attributes
Sweet Bell Pepper Sweet peppers are generally sold by color.
All sweet peppers are green at the immature state. As the peppers mature, they turn color.
The most predominant color for a mature sweet pepper is red, although other colors are also available including gold, purple, orange and brown.
All sweet peppers are characterized by thick flesh, bright skin color and fairly sweet flavor.
Because the sugar content increases as a sweet pepper matures, colored peppers tend to be sweeter than green peppers.
Sweet peppers are typically used as an ingredient, side dish, or entrée, and can be stuffed, sliced into rings, sliced into strips, or diced to add color to salads or dip trays or hamburger toppers.
Anaheim Heat is mild to hot
Light to dark green, or red in color
Typically slender, tapering to end
Good for stuffing or to complement egg dishes, stews and vegetable dishes
Fresno Heat is hot
Green, orange or red in color
Typically cone-shaped
May be too hot for some dishes, so often used with rice, in dips, or finely chopped in salsas or stuffing, breads and used for pickling
Habanero Heat is extremely hot
Green, orange or red in color
Appearance is round, squat
Has subtle fruit flavors, many times hotter than the jalapeño, use only when you want very hot food
Jalapeño Heat is medium to hot
Green or red in color
Typically cone-shaped
Easy to remove the seeds, when smoked and dried called "chipotle chilis," good for Mexican recipes, guacamole and salad dressings
Poblano

Heat is mild to medium
Green or brown in color
Typically large
Used  as s stuffing pepper, added to soups, sauces such as mole.  Called "ancho chili" when dried

Serrano

Heat is hot
Green, red or purple in color
Typically oval, slender
Often used in Mexican sauces and salsas, relishes, flavoring in chili or stews, casseroles, egg dishes and Chinese cooking


Pepper Sizing and Case Weight

Variety Sizing Typical Net Case Weight
Bell Pepper Large to Medium 22–28 lbs. avg.
Poblano Large 22–28 lbs. avg.
Anaheim Medium to Large 2 lbs., 5 lbs., 10–28 lbs.
Jalapeño Medium to Large 2 lbs., 5 lbs., 10–28 lbs.
Serrano Medium to Small 2 lbs., 5 lbs., 10 lbs.

Grades of Sweet Peppers

U.S. FANCY SWEET PEPPERS MUST MEET THE FOLLOWING REQUIREMENTS:

  • Consists of mature green sweet peppers of similar varietal characteristics (except when more than one variety and/or color are marked on the container)
  • Firm and well-shaped
  • Free from sunscald, freezing injury, decay affecting calyxes and/or walls and decay affecting stems
  • Free from injury caused by scars, hail, sunburn, diseases, insects, mechanical or other means
  • Size: The diameter of each pepper shall be no less than 3 inches, and the length of each pepper shall be not less than 3 ½ inches
  • Color: Any lot of peppers which meets all the requirements of this grade, except those relating to green color, may be designated as “U.S. Fancy” with the characteristic color specified in connection with this grade, provided that at least 90 percent of the peppers show any amount of the specified characteristic color. If the peppers fail to meet the color requirements of either “U.S. Fancy” or “U.S. Fancy (color specified),” they may, when requested, be designated as “U.S. Fancy Mixed Color”

U.S. NO. 1 SWEET PEPPERS MUST MEET THE FOLLOWING REQUIREMENTS:

  • Consists of mature green sweet peppers of similar varietal characteristics (except when more than one variety and/or color are marked on the container)
  • Firm and fairly well-shaped
  • Free from sunscald and decay affecting calyxes and/or walls and decay-affecting stems
  • Free from damage caused by freezing injury, hail, scars, sunburn, diseases, insects, mechanical or other means
  • Size: Unless otherwise specified, the diameter of each pepper shall be not less than 2 ½ inches and the length of each pepper shall be no less than 2 ½ inches
  • Color: Any lot of peppers which meet all the requirements of this grade, except those relating to green color, may be designated as “U.S. No. 1” with the characteristic color specified in connection with this grade, provided that at least 90 percent of the peppers show any amount of the specified characteristic color. If the peppers fail to meet the color requirements of either “U.S. No. 1” or “U.S. No. 1 (color specified),” they may, when requested, be designated as “U.S. No. 1 Mixed Color”

U.S. NO. 2 SWEET PEPPERS MUST MEET THE FOLLOWING REQUIREMENTS:

  • Consists of mature green sweet peppers of similar varietal characteristics (except when more than one variety and/or color are marked on the container)
  • Firm and not seriously misshapen
  • Free from sunscald and decay affecting calyxes and/or walls and decay affecting stems
  • Free from serious damage caused by freezing injury, hail, scars, sunburn, diseases, insects, mechanical or other means
  • Color: Any lot of peppers which meet all the requirements of this grade, except those relating to green color, may be designated as “U.S. No. 2” with the characteristic color specified in connection with this grade, provided that at least 90 percent of the peppers show any amount of the specified characteristic color. If the peppers fail to meet the color requirements of either “U.S. No. 2” or “U.S. No. 2 (color specified),” they may, when requested, be designated as “U.S. No. 2 Mixed Color”

GRADES OF PEPPERS (OTHER THAN SWEET PEPPERS)

U.S. FANCY PEPPERS MUST MEET THE FOLLOWING REQUIREMENTS:

  • Consists of mature peppers of similar varietal characteristics (except when specified as mixed varieties and/or colors)
  • Firm and well-shaped
  • Free from blossom end rot, crushed/broken, freezing, freezing injury, hail, insects, mechanical, sunscald, decay affecting calyxes and/or walls and decay affecting stems
  • Free from injury caused by bruising, dirt, discoloration, disease, insects, pitting, scars, shriveling, sunburn or other means
  • Size may be specified in inches and fractions thereof in connection with the grade in terms of minimum diameter, maximum diameter, minimum length and/or maximum length or by count
  • Color may be specified in connection with the grade, provided that at least 90 percent of the peppers show any amount of specified color

U.S. NO. 1 PEPPERS MUST MEET THE FOLLOWING REQUIREMENTS:

  • Consists of mature peppers of similar varietal characteristics (except when specified as mixed varieties and/or colors)
  • Firm and fairly well-shaped
  • Free from crushed/broken, freezing, freezing injury, sunscald and decay affecting calyxes and/or walls, and decay affecting stems
  • Free from damage caused by blossom end rot, bruising, dirt, discoloration, diseases, hail, insects, pitting, scars, shriveling, sunburn, mechanical or other means
  • Size may be specified in inches and fractions thereof in connection with the grade in terms of minimum diameter, maximum diameter, minimum length and/or maximum length or by count
  • Color may be specified in connection with the grade, provided that at least 90 percent of the peppers show any amount of specified color

U.S. NO. 2 PEPPERS MUST MEET THE FOLLOWING REQUIREMENTS:

  • Consists of mature peppers of similar varietal characteristics (except when specified as mixed varieties and/or colors)
  • Firm and not seriously misshapen
  • Free from freezing, freezing injury, sunscald and decay affecting calyxes and/or walls, decay affecting stems and crushed/broken
  • Free from serious damage caused blossom end rot, bruising, dirt, discoloration, diseases, hail, insects, pitting, scars, shriveling, sunburn, mechanical or other means
  • Size may be specified in inches and fractions thereof in connection with the grade in terms of minimum diameter, maximum diameter, minimum length and/or maximum length or by count
  • Color may be specified in connection with the grade, provided that at least 90 percent of the peppers show any amount of specified color

Pepper Storage and Handling

  • Ideal storage temperature 45–50°F in the red zone of the cooler
  • Cooler storage temperature will cause the pepper to pit, soften and shrivel
  • Keep sweet peppers away from ethylene-producing fruits and ripening rooms
  • Sweet peppers are order producers; keep away from odor sensitive foods, especially pineapples
  • Highly sensitive to freezing injury; likely to suffer injury by one light freezing
  • Susceptible to chill injury, which is not always apparent until returned to warmer temperatures