Bull Nose Chile Peppers
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Bull Nose peppers were originally short, slender, and stout, but modern versions have become increasingly elongated and bulbous, averaging 7 to 12 centimeters in length and 7 to 10 centimeters in diameter. The smooth, glossy, and taut skin ripens from green to bright red when mature and tapers to multiple lobes on the non-stem end, also known as a “bull nose.” Underneath the skin, the flesh is thick, crunchy, and aqueous, encasing a central cavity filled with small, round, and flat cream-colored seeds and pale red ribbing. Bull Nose peppers are believed to be sweeter than the common bell peppers found in markets today and are typically mild, but some peppers may contain ribs that have a slightly pungent, spicy flavor.
Bull Nose peppers are available year-round, with a peak season in the summer through early fall.
Bull Nose peppers, botanically classified as Capsicum annuum, are an heirloom variety of sweet pepper that is a member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Considered to be one of the first varieties of medium-sized peppers grown in the United States, Bull Nose peppers were named after the indentation on the non-stem end resembling a bull’s nose and were one of the most popular peppers in the 1800s. Despite its popularity, Bull Nose peppers eventually had to compete for commercial space with larger, uniform, and boxier bell pepper varieties. Many experts believe that the pepper has changed in appearance over time due to cross-breeding with boxier pepper varieties in the late 19th century, eventually causing the original version of the Bull Nose pepper to become nearly extinct. Today Bull Nose peppers are still rare in commercial markets and were listed for some time on Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, which is a catalog that promotes foods in danger of extinction to raise awareness and ensure they remain in production. Bull Nose peppers are predominately grown as a specialty pepper in home gardens and are favored for its novelty and for its sweet, mildly pungent flavor.
Bull Nose peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that can help protect the immune system and increase collagen production within the body. The peppers also contain folate, vitamins A, B6, and E, and potassium.
Bull Nose peppers are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as grilling, roasting, and baking. When fresh, the peppers can be sliced into rings and tossed into salads, sliced into strips and displayed on vegetable platters with dips, or layered into lettuce wraps, sandwiches, and spring rolls. The thick and sturdy peppers are mostly known as a stuffing variety and can be filled with cheeses, grains, vegetables, or meats, and then baked. Bull Nose peppers can also be sliced and fried, pickled for extended use, chopped and topped over tacos, or lightly stir-fried with other vegetables. Bull Nose peppers pair well with potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, meats such as beef, turkey, pork, and poultry, herbs such as parsley, cilantro, basil, and oregano, cheeses such as parmesan, cheddar, or mozzarella, rice, and quinoa. The peppers will keep 1-2 weeks when loosely stored whole and unwashed in a plastic or paper bag in the refrigerator.
In the United States, Bull Nose peppers were originally planted in the Monticello garden in 1774, which was a garden grown by Thomas Jefferson at his home in Virginia. The garden contained over three hundred varieties of vegetables and Jefferson carefully cultivated and recorded traits, growth habits, and practices of each plant to study the different varieties. In the modern-day, the garden still exists as an interpretation of the original space, and Bull Nose peppers are one of the varieties still grown in the gardens today as an homage to Jefferson. Bull Nose peppers were also mentioned in the 1796 cookbook, “American Cookery” by Amelia Simmons, which is a book considered by many to be one of the original American cookbooks.
Capsicum annuum peppers are native to Central and South America and have been growing wild since ancient times. The peppers were then introduced to Asia, Africa, and Europe through Portuguese and Spanish trade routes in the 15th and 16th centuries and the pepper became extensively cultivated, especially in Asia. Through years of selective breeding, many new varieties were developed, and these peppers were eventually shared to the United States in the 18th century. Bull Nose peppers became commercially available in 1863 in the United States and were one of the most popular varieties of peppers throughout the 19th century. Today the variety is considered rare and is mainly found through farmers markets or online seed catalogs for home garden use.
Recipes that include Bull Nose Chile Peppers. One is easiest, three is harder.
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