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Florina peppers are large, elongated, and slightly curved pods often likened to the form of a cow’s horn in Greece, and have a conical shape that tapers to a distinct point on the non-stem end. The skin is glossy, smooth, and firm, ripening from green to a deep red when mature, and connects to a long and semi-thick, bright green stem. Underneath the skin, the pale red flesh is crisp, highly fragrant, and aqueous, encasing a hollow, central cavity that contains many small, flat, and round, cream-colored seeds. When consumed, Florina peppers are crunchy and tender with a sweet flavor.
Fresh Florina peppers are available in the fall in Greece, while the canned peppers are available year-round.
Florina peppers, botanically classified as Capsicum annuum, are thick, curved fruits that grow on low, leafy bushes and are members of the Solanaceae, or nightshade family. Named after Florina, a small mountain town in Greece where the peppers are grown, Florina peppers are harvested each season by hand and are considered to be one of the most exported peppers of Greece. Florina peppers are highly favored for their sweet taste and are primarily roasted and sold in jars filled with vinegar, herbs, and oils.
Florina 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 are also a good source of vitamins C, D, K, and E, iron, manganese, potassium, and fiber.
Florina peppers can be consumed fresh but are most commonly prepared roasted or sautéed. When cooked, the peppers are often mixed with fragrant olive oils as a light side dish to serve with barbecued meats, or they are grilled for a richer flavor, garnished with cheese and baked into a tart, or stuffed with various cheeses, meat, and rice. The peppers can also be chopped and added to pasta, mixed with other cooked vegetables, layered in sandwiches, tossed in both green and grain salads, or blended to make a sweet sauce that is served over bruschetta, cannelloni, poultry, or sausage. In addition to fresh applications, Florina peppers are canned or dried for extended use and are pickled for a sweet-sour flavor. Florina peppers pair well with cheeses such as feta, graviera, ricotta, and parmesan, herbs such as basil, dill, oregano, and parsley, green olives, cabbage, eggplant, chickpeas, and lentils. The peppers will keep 1-2 weeks when stored in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
In Greece, Florina peppers are layered in large piles at fresh markets to create a bright, colorful, and fragrant display to attract consumers. Offered fresh for a limited time, Florina peppers are only grown in Florina and were awarded the Protected Designation of Origin in 1994. A label given by the World Trade Organization, these peppers are geographically safeguarded, and only the peppers grown in Florina are given the famous name to ensure that quality is maintained. In Aetos, Florina, a small village within the region, an annual festival known as the Feast of the Pepper is also held to celebrate the pepper’s economic and culinary impact. During the festival, the townspeople of Aetos set up tables in the center of the village to celebrate the history of the red pepper through a wide range of meals, live music, and entertainment.
Florina peppers are descendants of sweet peppers that were introduced from Brazil to Greece in the 17th century and were test cultivated in several regions throughout Greece. From these test regions, Florina peppers were only successful in the soil and climate of Florina, and today Florina is still the only region in Greece to grow the peppers. Florina peppers can be found at fresh local markets in Florina and surrounding cities, and in canned form, the peppers are sold internationally in North America, Australia, Europe, and Asia.
Recipes that include Florina Pepper. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Aglaia's Table||Grilled Sweet Peppers with Two Dressings|
|Kopiaste||Roasted Florina Peppers|
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