Chinese Five Color Chile Peppers
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Chinese Five Color chile peppers are prolific growers; the short-statured plants can produce up to 100, 1-2 inch, conical peppers a season. The small peppers start out purple and then change to a creamy white; from there they change from yellow to orange, and eventually mature to a bright red. The five colors are typically all present on the plant at one time over the course of the season. The short, tapered peppers have moderately thick walls and an abundance of seeds. Chinese Five Color chile peppers have an intense heat, with a bitter aftertaste. The peppers range from 5,000-30,000 on the Scoville heat scale. Their spiciness is evident at all stages of maturity; even in their purple stage, the peppers can contain a good amount of heat.
Chinese Five Color chile peppers are available in the late summer and fall months.
The Chinese Five Color chile peppers are an heirloom variety of Capsicum annuum from China, named for the five different, showy colors the peppers display at various stages of maturity. The plant itself is often used as an edible ornamental in home gardens and indoors as a potted plant. The peppers grow straight upright, the pods resembling bulbous holiday lights. They are sometimes known as Chinese Multi-Color peppers.
As with all peppers, Chinese Five Color chile peppers are high in vitamins C and A, as well as potassium, magnesium and iron. The capsaicin in the peppers, which gives them their pungency, is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. The compound is also used in pain relieving creams or salves.
Chinese Five Color chile peppers are most often pickled along with onions and garlic, preserving the heat as well as the colors of the peppers. The small peppers can be used for salsas and sauces. Roast the colorful peppers or fry in a small amount of olive oil and serve as a spicy side for braised meats or poultry. Removing the seeds can eliminate some of the heat, which comes from the capsaicin concentrated in the ribs and seeds of peppers. Chinese Five Color chile peppers will keep up to a week in the refrigerator when wrapped loosely in plastic.
Chinese Five Color chile peppers are believed to be native to China. All members of Capsicum annuum are native to South and Central America. It was the Portuguese who were responsible for bringing the small fruits to India and Asia from their travels and explorations of South America and the Caribbean. These colorful peppers are most often available through seed growers online and in home gardens. The peppers are not grown commercially, though they may be found at local farmer’s markets in warmer climates.