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Friggitello Chile Peppers
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Friggitello peppers grow on very productive plants that have a great deal of foliage, protecting the peppers from any sun scald. The peppers mature from green to bright red, though they are often harvested when green. Friggitello peppers have a conical shape that tapers slightly at the tip with a kind of stretched out bell pepper look. The fruits grow between 2 and 5 inches long and have a thin glossy skin with shallow furrowing. When picked green, the sweet pepper may offer a mild bitterness, but will become sweeter if left to mature to scarlet red. The peppers may also develop a mild heat with maturity.
Friggitello peppers are available in the late summer and through the fall months.
Friggitello peppers are an Italian heirloom variety of Capsicum annuum. Friggitello peppers are more common in their native Italy, where they are sautéed in oil with tomatoes, garlic and basil and served as a side dish or as a topping for bruschetta. In southern Italy, the peppers are also known as Friarelli peppers. The Friggitello peppers pictured above come from Weiser Farms in Bakersfield, CA.
The sweet Friggitello peppers, like other members of Capsicum annuum, are high in vitamins C, A and B-complex and many essential minerals like potassium, iron, and manganese. Peppers contain a good number of antioxidants, which help protect our bodies from cellular damage. Peppers are also low in calories.
Friggitello peppers are best known as frying peppers. They can be sautéed in olive oil with garlic, herbs, and tomatoes or simply with salt, and served with bread or as a side dish at meals. Stuff fresh Friggitello peppers with ground meat, rice, cheese and herbs. The sweet Italian peppers can be used green or red, fresh or dried. Add sliced Friggitello peppers to green salads, egg dishes or pizzas, in place of cubanelles or other varieties of frying pepper. Friggitello peppers can be pickled to preserve, using white vinegar and seasonings, and left to sit for a week or more. Friggitello peppers can be kept loosely wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Friggitello peppers are often referred to as “The Famous Frying Pepper of Naples!” They are commonly served in restaurants as a side dish or appetizer with pieces of crusty bread. In 2005 the sweet Friggitello peppers received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society of the United Kingdom. This distinction is given to different varieties and types of plants after rigorous trial and assessment where a plant can demonstrate stability in color and production, availability, and its resistance to disease and pests.
Friggitello peppers are native to the southeastern region of Italy between Naples and Rome. They are very popular throughout Italy and Europe, and for home gardeners in the United States. All members of Capsicum annuum are originally native to South America and the Caribbean, and were brought to Italy and Spain by the Portuguese after their explorations of the New World. Friggitello peppers are not commercially grown in the United States, but can be found at farmer’s markets in temperate climates.