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Gypsy Bell Peppers
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Gypsy sweet peppers grow on very productive, medium-sized plants. They look like elongated bell peppers, but smaller, roughly 4 inches high and 2 inches in diameter. The Gypsy also has a tapered shape, like a jalapeno. The thin skin changes from a pale yellow-green to a deep orange-red, and the plant can be adorned with peppers at every stage of maturity. It has a pale green flesh that is crisp and juicy. In its 'green' stage, the pepper has a slight acidic flavor. As the peppers mature, the flavor changes; they are often harvested at different times during the season at different stages of maturity (and color) for different uses. Gypsy sweet peppers are said to be very sweet when fully mature, with a "floral" taste. The flavor is more complex than that of a bell pepper.
Gypsy sweet peppers often referred to as a Cubanelle or Italian “frying type” for its shape. The hybrid variety is a member of Capsicum annuum; a hand-bred cross of a sweet pepper and a bell pepper. The plant is a prolific producer and can grow anywhere from 50 to 100 peppers in a season, given the right conditions. The pepper was popular in home gardens before it found a niche in restaurants in the early 2000s.
Gypsy peppers are versatile in the kitchen. They can be used at any stage of ripeness, from pale green to red-orange. The pale-colored young peppers are well-suited to Eastern European recipes, whereas the mature red ones are much sweeter and pair better with Mediterranean recipes. Gypsy peppers are good for stuffing because unlike the thick walls of a bell pepper, the thinner skin cooks more evenly and is less likely to be undercooked when the stuffing is through cooking. The thin skinned Gypsy pepper is also ideal for frying or roasting because they don’t require peeling. Raw, sliced Gypsy peppers can be added to sandwiches or salads. Dice Gypsy peppers and sauté with corn and pancetta for a topping for fish or chicken. Gypsy peppers will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week in their green stage; when fully mature and orange-red, the peppers will only keep for a few days.
The company that developed Gypsy sweet peppers, Petoseed, was founded in 1950 in Southern California and was a leader in the hybridization of hot peppers and tomatoes in the 1970s and 80s. The seed company was a major producer of disease-resistant seed varieties. Petoseed is credited with the recovery of San Diego’s tomato industry after the development of a tomato hybrid that was resistant to a disease that had nearly wiped out the area’s tomato industry in the early 1970s.
Gypsy sweet peppers were developed by Petoseed Co. in 1980, a combination of a bell pepper and a sweet Italian rams horn pepper. The Gypsy pepper was developed to resist a common pepper plant disease, tobacco mosaic virus, or tobamovirus and in 1981, the pepper was given the distinction of National All-America Selection for its value in the garden. Gypsy peppers were mostly grown by home gardeners until they began to catch the attention of chefs who preferred the quick-cooking sweet pepper. The pepper is still mainly grown by small farms and available through farmer’s markets. They grow well in both hot and cooler climates.
People have spotted Gypsy Bell Peppers using the Specialty Produce app for iPhone and Android.
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