I was at the grocery store yesterday looking at peppers when the lady next to me asked if I knew there were male and female peppers. She had learned it on Facebook! I have been a home economist for many years and had never learned that to be true. She went on to tell me that the peppers with three bumps or lobes on the bottom were male and were best for cooking. The ones with four bumps on the bottom were female and were best for eating raw. I did not want to argue with her on the spot but I went straight home and went to the research based sites I use online to confirm that the bumps had nothing to do with the peppers being male or female. It is indeed a garden myth but one that does circulate periodically on social media. How many bumps a pepper has on the bottom is primarily related to the variety and growing conditions.

Bell peppers grow from flowers possessing both male and female parts. They do not have a gender.

The number of lobes on a pepper also has nothing to do with taste. Sweetness is usually a factor of ripeness. Bell shaped peppers in their immature state are green with a slightly bitter flavor. As they mature they turn bright red and become sweeter. There are also yellow, orange, white, pink, and purple varieties of peppers.

The heat of a pepper is measured in Scoville units. Bell peppers have a Scoville heat unit of 0 while habanero peppers have a Scoville heat unit of 100,000 to 350,000. To remove some of the heat from peppers you can remove the seeds and interior ribs before cooking.

Peppers add flavor and color to so many dishes and are also great for snacking.


Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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