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What is a banana pepper (A versatile spice you need!)

Banana pepper is an essential ingredient used by cooks in their daily cooking largely due to its distinctive flavor. It’s often used to add kick and that much-needed spicy flavor to salsa, pizza, salads, sandwiches, or sometimes stuffed with meat and cheese. 

This pepper is also frequently compared to pepperoncini, a variety of chili pepper that belongs to the same species called Capsicum Annum. But there’s a difference between the two, and you’ll learn that today! 

This guide will also tell you everything about banana peppers, from their taste, appearance, and substitutes! 

Also, I’m giving out some vital tips on buying banana peppers and how to properly store them so you can enjoy the spice anytime you want. Let’s start!

What is a banana pepper?

Banana pepper is a member of the chili pepper family Capsicum Annum. The pepper grows to two to three inches in length and has a thick skin, so it’s easier to add into dishes. 

As the name suggests, banana pepper resembles the appearance of ripened bananas. It has a bright yellow to green color but eventually turns orange or red when it matures. 

This pepper is less spicy than pepperoncini with a heat scale of 0 to 500 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). Furthermore, banana pepper offers a tangy crunch, slightly sweet taste, and mild spicy kick to anything from tacos, pizza, sandwiches, and more. 

What do banana peppers taste like

Fresh banana peppers tend to be sweet and tangy with a crunchy texture and mild spicy kick. Though it’s less spicy than pepperoncini with 0 to 500 SHU (Scoville heat unit), this pepper variety is still a great addition to dishes that require a hint of spiciness. Moreover, this pepper can be eaten raw, cooked, or you can turn them into banana pepper rings for your favorite sandwich dish.

What do banana peppers look like

Banana pepper has a pointed end and is best for stuffing due to its thick skin. Also, banana pepper’s color and shape are more closely like a ripened banana with a bright yellow to green hue. As the pepper matures, its color changes to red or orange.

Are banana peppers hot or sweet?

Yes, banana peppers tend to be sweet but not spicy. As mentioned, banana pepper has a mild spicy kick and tends to be sweet and tangy. It has a scale of 0 to 500 SHU (Scoville heat unit), so you won’t really feel its heat.

Are banana peppers and pepperoncini the same thing?

No, banana peppers and pepperoncini are different spices, but the two are both members of the chili pepper family called Capsicum Annum.

Tips on buying banana peppers

Here are some of my essential tips on buying banana peppers.

  1. Look for banana peppers with a green to yellow color. Orange or red indicates that the peppers are already ripening.
  2. Avoid buying peppers that are soft and discolored.
  3. Don’t pick banana peppers with an off-putting smell or appearance and look for ones with the most potent fragrance, as this is an indication that they’re fresh.

How to store banana peppers

Storing banana peppers is as easy as ABC. To maximize its shelf life, make sure to keep it in a paper bag before sliding it into the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator. 

If you want to enjoy it all year long, the best thing to do is freeze it. To do this, slice or chop the peppers before putting them in an airtight container. Label the bag and store it inside the freezer. That’s it!

What is a banana pepper?

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Banana pepper substitutes

Did you know that there are suitable substitutes for banana peppers? The list below is your answer if you’re running out of the ingredients or longing for that banana pepper flavor. You might already know some of these, but I bet there are a few you still haven’t heard of yet!

1. Pepperoncini pepper

If you’re longing for those banana peppers in a jar but fail to secure some during your last grocery visit, then pepperoncini is all you need! 

Pepperoncini and banana pepper have things in common. They share the same tanginess and sweetness with an almost banana-like color and appearance. However, it’s a lot spicier than the banana pepper. 

Pepperoncini measures 100 to 500 SHU (Scoville Heat Units), while the banana pepper has 0 to 500 SHU. So since the former is spicier, use half the pepperoncini amount that your recipe requires for banana pepper.

2. Cubanelles

Another substitute that can replace banana peppers is cubanelles or Cuban peppers. 

Cubanelles feature yellow to green in color but become orange to red when it matures. This pepper is notable for its sweet and mild kick and thin walls or skin. It has 100 to 1000 SHU, two times spicier than banana pepper. 

If you’re planning to include it in your recipes, it’s recommended to add less of the pepper.

3. Anaheim pepper

This pepper isn’t my best recommendation for banana peppers substitute. But I included this anaheim pepper in the list in case you’re out of everything else. 

Anaheim pepper is one of those mild chili peppers out there, registering at 500 to 2,500 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) on the Scoville Scale. Though it’s described as smokey, this pepper still shares the same characteristics as banana peppers with its sweet and tangy flavor profile. 

If you’re planning to use it as an alternative for banana peppers, I strongly suggest putting less into your recipes.

The bottom line

Banana peppers are a versatile ingredient that should be present in every one of your dishes. And through this article, I hope you’re already aware of what banana pepper is and everything that surrounds it. 

This comprehensive guide should now be your one-stop solution – from banana pepper storage tips to possible substitutes to some tidbits on buying it!

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