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Red Swallow Chile Peppers
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Red Swallow chile peppers vary in appearance, depending on the growing environment, and are generally elongated pods, averaging 8 to 11 centimeters in length, with an oval to conical, tapered shape. The skin is smooth, shiny, and waxy, ripening from pale green-yellow to bright red when mature. Underneath the thin skin, the flesh is thick, striated, crisp, and red, encasing a central cavity filled with thin membranes and many round and flat, cream-colored seeds. Red Swallow chile peppers are crunchy and juicy with a mildly earthy and sweet taste.
Red Swallow chile peppers are available in the summer through fall.
Red Swallow chile peppers, botanically classified as Capsicum annuum, are a sweet, early to mid-season variety that belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Also known as Lastochka peppers, which translates from Russian to mean “swallow,” Red Swallow peppers are the fully developed, mature versions of the pepper and are favored for their sweet, juicy nature. The variety is edible and consumed in all stages of maturity, but it is most commonly eaten when bright red. Red Swallow peppers were originally developed in Moldova and were selected for their improved resistance to disease, high yields, and adaptable, easy-to-grow nature. The peppers are widely grown for commercial use and are also a favored cultivar for home gardening, consumed in a variety of raw and cooked applications.
Red Swallow chile peppers are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, which are antioxidants that can help protect the body against environmental aggressors and improve overall skin and eye health. The peppers are also a good source of vitamin B6 and contain some folate, potassium, phosphorus, and manganese.
Red Swallow chile peppers are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as stuffing, roasting, baking, grilling, and frying. The pods can be sliced and consumed as a snack, sliced and layered in sandwiches, used as a vessel for dips, tossed into green salads, or chopped into salsa. The peppers are also commonly roasted and blended into sauces for use over pasta and cooked meats, traditionally stuffed with ground meat, rice, or vegetables and cooked, chopped and tossed into soups and stews, or diced and added to rice or cooked vegetables. In addition to fresh preparations, Red Swallow peppers can be canned or pickled for extended use. Red Swallow chile peppers pair well with spices such as parsley, ginger, cinnamon, dill, and cloves, tomatoes, zucchini, onions, carrots, celery, cabbage, mushrooms, meats such as ground beef, turkey, sausage, and fish, rice, honey, balsamic vinegar, and raisins. The fresh peppers will keep up to two months when properly stored in commercial chillers. When stored in the refrigerator, the peppers will keep 1-2 weeks.
Swallow chile peppers are named after the pod’s similarity in shape to a swallow’s beak or wing, and the peppers are grown outside in warmer climates or in greenhouses throughout central Asia and eastern Europe. In central Asia, especially in Russia, one of the most popular uses for the variety is in canned preparations known as lecho, which are canned salads utilized as a way to preserve vegetables during the harsh winter months. The mixture is typically made with peppers, onions, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, salt, and sugar, and is boiled until soft, but still crisp, and is then sealed in sterile jars. Once prepared, the jars can be stored for extended periods of time and used as a sauce, condiment, or topping for cooked meats.
Red Swallow chile peppers were the result of natural selection in 1970 at the Transnistrian Scientific Research Institute of Agriculture in Moldova. The variety acquired approval after extensive testing in 1974 to be grown in Russia, and to ensure quality, Red Swallow peppers are protected by select companies and breeders to prevent counterfeit peppers from being sold under the swallow name. Today Red Swallow peppers are commonly grown in greenhouses in northern Russia and outside in containers in the warmer regions of southern Russia. They are also cultivated in home gardens and through farms throughout eastern Europe and central Asia.