Bell peppers are one of the most crucial ingredients in billions of people’s diets across the globe. They are well known for their pleasant flavor and are packed with essential nutrients. These include ascorbic acid, flavonoids, carotenoids, tocopherols, and capsaicinoids. Peppers are incredibly scrumptious and can be eaten ripe or raw.
However, many myths about bell peppers have flogged social media, and perhaps they crossed your ears at one point in time. In this article, I will enlighten you on the myths and facts around “male and female” bell peppers.
Common myths about bell peppers
You might have heard that bell peppers have a gender, and to know the gender, you check the number of lobes at the base of your pepper. Male peppers possess only three lobes or bumps, while female ones have four at their base.
Or have you heard that female peppers are rounder than male ones and that they contain more seeds on the inside? If yes, you have probably heard that female peppers are sweeter and taste better when eaten raw than male peppers. This sounds exciting to the ear, but are the claims true, or is it just mere fiction?
Myth 1: Bell peppers gender
You can tell the “gender” of a bell pepper by counting the number of lobes at the fruit base. Bell peppers with four lobes are then identified as female, and those with three are males.
Fact: The ” male and female bell peppers ” claim is fiction. Claiming that peppers have a gender would imply that fruits sexually reproduce with each other, which is not the case.
However, the gospel truth is that, like all plants of the nightshade family (tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, etc.), the pepper plant creates “perfect flowers.” These flowers are also called hermaphroditic flowers. This means that they grow from flowers with both male and female parts- a stamen and a pistil.
Peppers each contain ovaries that are capable of producing the seeds inside the peppers. Self fertilization happens, which leads to the production of each pepper. The peppers themselves do not have any sex organs and hence cannot be given a gender. It is the flower, not the fruit, which is the sexual organ in plants.
What does the number of lobes in a bell pepper indicate?
The number of lobes in a bell pepper is no indicator of the fruit’s gender. The number of lobes that a bell pepper has is related to genetics and variety of the bell pepper. Many bell pepper varieties produce different numbers of lobes.
Just like peppers come in different colors, sizes, etc., it is the case with lobes. Some pepper fruits have two lobes and others three to five. If those with four lobes are female bell peppers and those with three are males, then what gender are those with two or five lobes? This dismisses the myth that three-lobe peppers are male, and four-lobe peppers are female.
Factors affecting bell peppers’ number of lobes
Several factors determine the number of lobes a pepper fruit can have. These factors include :
Bell peppers are genetically diverse. They come in different sizes, shapes, and colors according to their genotype. Genetics has a great bearing on the number of lobes a pepper fruit has.
- The growing conditions of the pepper plant.
The conditions a pepper plant is subjected to determines the number of lobes the fruits will have. Mixing compost and other organic matter into the soil when planting and the use of fertilizers can influence the number of lobes your pepper fruit will have. Soil pH is another important factor.
Myth 2: Bell peppers sweetness
Bell peppers with four lobes (female bell peppers) are believed to be sweeter than those with three lobes (male bell peppers), which makes them better eaten raw than cooked. Peppers with three lobes are said to be better cooked.
Fact: You don’t have to go through the trouble of counting the number of lobes a pepper fruit has to get a sweet-tasting pepper. The sweetness of bell peppers has nothing to do with the number of lobes they have. Several factors determine bell peppers taste. These include the pepper plant’s variety, pepper’s ripeness, and nutrition of the soil it was grown on. Weather conditions and the time the pepper is left on the vine also affect pepper fruits’ sweetness.
Studies have shown that peppers grown in a sunnier spot tend to be sweet.
Bell peppers that have aged from green to their mature yellow, orange or red will be sweeter, regardless of having three or four lobes. The statistics below show that the red pepper is the sweetest when compared to green, yellow, or orange.
Calories per 100g:
100g bell pepper, green, raw
- Kcal: 21
- Sugar(carbohydrate) : 04.6g
100g bell pepper, orange/yellow, raw
- Kcal: 26
- Sugar(carbohydrate) : 05.4g
100g bell pepper, red, raw
- Kcal: 31
- Sugar(carbohydrate) : 06.0g
Some certain bell pepper seed varieties are preferable as they have a sweeter flavor profile than others.
Myth 3: Bell peppers best purposes
Bitter three-lobe peppers do well in heat and are better cooked or grilled while sweet four-lobe peppers are better eaten raw.
Fact: Sweet varieties of peppers are better eaten raw while bitter ones are best cooked. However, the number of lobes a pepper fruit has is no indicator of its sweetness. Whether to cook or eat bell peppers raw solely depends on bell pepper variety and ripeness.
Green peppers are better cooked.
Green peppers are unripe or immature peppers. If they are left to ripen fully, they can turn yellow, orange, purple, or red. Green peppers are bitter as compared to mature peppers. A fully ripened pepper will always be sweeter and milder than an unripe pepper. Many people love cooked green peppers, and they hold up well in the heat.
Red, yellow, orange or purple peppers bell peppers are better eaten raw.
Red bell peppers are mature peppers that have fully ripened. They contain about eleven times more beta carotene than green bell peppers. They are sweeter and milder as compared to green pepper fruits.
Cook bell peppers to enhance their sweetness
If you like your pepper sweet, cooking, it will just do the magic for you. Cooking pepper fruits makes them very tender and brings out their sweetness.
Uses of bell peppers
When it comes to preparing healthy, colorful, and tasty dishes, bell peppers are your perfect choice. Bell peppers are beneficial and can be used as an accompaniment to many foods. These include grilled steak and roast chicken
Bell peppers can be used to top your sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers, and burritos. They are also great for your salads, veggie trays, and stir-fries.
Other factors that determine the taste of pepper fruits
- Post-harvest storage
The taste of ripe peppers can be determined by post-harvest storage. Leaving a pepper fruit on the vine until it fully ripens will ensure that your pepper is sweet. Fruits should be allowed to ripen on the plant where there is a lot of sunshine to maximize their sweetness. Fruits harvested unripely and stored until they will be less sweet as compared to those that are harvested ripe.
- Bell pepper varieties
Some bell pepper varieties are proven to be sweeter than others. Therefore, Growers have to know which types of pepper fruits are sweet and which ones are not.
Myth 4: Bell peppers’ seediness
The number of lobes a pepper fruit has dictates its seediness. Four lobe bell peppers (lady peppers) are believed to have more seeds than their male counterpart.
Fact: Seed production in a bell pepper is not determined by the number of lobes it has. It, however, has more to do with the overall size of the fruit. Unless you slice it open, you can not determine the amount of seeds your bell pepper has. Peppers can be huge with many lobes but with a small amount of seeds. They can also be small in size with a few lobes but with a large number of seeds.
Myth 5: Pepper roundness
Female peppers are rounder as compared to males. Males are taller and thinner.
Fact: The roundness, thickness, and size of a pepper fruit depends largely on genetics and not the number of lobes at the base of a pepper.
Now you know that there is no such thing as a “male or female bell pepper.” You no longer need to go through the trouble of flipping peppers to check the number of lobes they have. If you are a sweet pepper lover, just grab your ripe pepper, and you won’t regret your choice. Perhaps you love your bell pepper less sweet, green, or white pepper fruits will do you justice. “Bell pepper gender” is just but a myth.