Murasaki Purple Peppers
Inventory, lb : 0
Murasaki Purple peppers are elongated, straight to slightly curved pods, averaging 15 to 20 centimeters in length and 2 to 3 centimeters in diameter, and have a conical shape tapering to a rounded point on the non-stem end. The skin is glossy, waxy, thick, and smooth, ripening from green to dark purple, almost black, to bright red when mature. The pods are connected to a fibrous, purple-green stem, and underneath the surface, the flesh is crisp, green, and aqueous, encasing a central cavity filled with white pith and many small, round and flat, cream-colored seeds. Murasaki Purple peppers are crunchy with a mild and sweet, heatless flavor. In addition to the peppers, the plant is distinguished by its unique purple-hued stems, veins, and flowers.
Murasaki Purple peppers are available in the summer through fall.
Murasaki Purple peppers, botanically classified as Capsicum annuum, are a rare Japanese sweet pepper belonging to the Solanaceae or nightshade family. The heirloom peppers have been cultivated in the Nara Prefecture of Japan for hundreds of years and are highly favored for their unique coloring and sweet, heatless nature. Murasaki translates from Japanese to mean “purple,” and the peppers are also known as Murasaki Togarashi and Nara Murasaki in Japan. Murasaki Purple peppers are a specialty variety seldom found outside of its native prefecture. The peppers are traditionally grown in home gardens and through select growers, and the variety is valued as an ornamental plant as the peppers ripen at different times, giving the plants a multi-colored appearance. Chefs incorporate Murasaki Purple peppers into culinary preparations to highlight their crisp, dense consistency, sweet flavor, and unusual coloring.
Murasaki Purple peppers are an excellent source of anthocyanins, pigments found within the skin that give the pepper its dark purple hue. Anthocyanins provide anti-inflammatory properties to reduce inflammation and protect the cells against free radical damage. The peppers also contain some vitamin C to strengthen the immune system, fiber to regulate the digestive tract, and iron to develop the protein hemoglobin for oxygen transport through the bloodstream.
Murasaki Purple peppers have a sweet and vegetal, mild flavor well suited for raw and lightly cooked preparations. The peppers can be washed and consumed straight, out of hand, or they can be sliced and tossed into green salads, chopped for salsa, halved and used as a colorful garnish, or displayed on appetizer platters with creamy dips. Murasaki Purple peppers can also be lightly cooked, but the color will fade into a green hue in the process. In Japan, the peppers are typically blistered in a skillet, stir-fried with other vegetables as a side dish, or fried into tempura. The sweet peppers can also be used as a pepper substitute in any recipe calling for a mild pepper and are sometimes mixed with spicier peppers to create a dynamic side dish. Murasaki Purple peppers are commonly cooked into tsukudani, a dish comprised of vegetables simmered in a savory-sweet sauce made with mirin, soy sauce, and sugar. The peppers will turn green when cooked in the mixture, but the dish will develop a dynamic, memorable flavor. Murasaki Purple peppers pair well with broccoli, green beans, eggplant, cucumber, carrots, aromatics such as onions, garlic, and ginger, cashews, meats such as poultry, beef, pork, and duck, and seafood including fish, crab, shrimp, and scallops. The peppers will keep up to one week when stored unwashed and whole in the refrigerator's crisper drawer.
Murasaki Purple peppers are an ancient pepper variety classified by the Japanese government as Yamato yasai, traditional vegetables grown in Nara, Japan. Vegetables are a central ingredient in the cuisine of Nara as the prefecture is primarily vegetarian. In 675 CE, the prefecture became the central hub for Buddhism, and Emperor Tenmu once instated a law that meat could not be eaten in the region. Over time, these restrictions were relaxed, but many residents chose to remain vegetarian due to their religious beliefs. There are approximately nineteen types of vegetables certified as Yamato yasai, and Yamato is an older name once used for Nara. Yamato no dento yasai, or traditional vegetables of Yamato, are distinct in their flavor, appearance, and aroma. The Japanese government also promoted the vegetables in 2006 in an effort to preserve the disappearing varieties. Today, Yamato yasai vegetables are featured in restaurants as the central ingredient to highlight their flavors and value.
Murasaki Purple peppers are native to Nara, Japan, and are descendants of peppers originally from Central and South America. The original pepper varieties were introduced to Japan through Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 15th and 16th centuries, and since their introduction, peppers have been cultivated and selectively bred for hundreds of years to create new varieties, including the Murasaki Purple pepper. In Japan, Murasaki Purple peppers are produced in the Nara Prefecture, specifically Maitani-Cho, Tenri, and Nara city. The variety is mainly grown in home gardens within the prefecture, sold through select local markets, but outside of the region, the peppers are challenging to find. Murasaki Purple peppers are occasionally found in Tokyo, and they are also cultivated in some home gardens and specialty growers in Europe and the United States, where the peppers are sold through farmer’s markets and distributors.