Last week, a woman named Amy tweeted that green peppers are unripe. She also claimed to have learned that the pepper would eventually turn yellow and then red if left on the plant. Twitter went wild, and her tweet was even turned into a Twitter Moment, but a botanist has since busted that bubble.
Are Green Peppers Unripe?
As botanist James Wong explained, green peppers are unripened, and that’s where the truth of Amy’s viral tweet stops. Unripe yellow peppers are green. Unripe red peppers are also green. Ripened green peppers either become red peppers or yellow peppers.
Although they look similar, Wong explains, “Yellow, orange, and red peppers are all genetically different varieties at full maturity.” If certain species of peppers are left on the plant long enough, they can even become purple or white.
The Real Shocker About Peppers
Peppers, whether they are green, yellow, red, or orange, are NOT VEGETABLES. They are berries! That’s right. When you eat a pepper, you are adding to your daily serving of fruit. “How,” you ask?
LiveScience defines a berry as “a fleshy fruit that has multiple seeds on the inside, embedded in the flesh of the ovary.” By that definition, peppers are a beloved member of the berry family.
Peppers Have Strange Relatives
Bell peppers grow on a plant called Capsicum, which produces small white and yellow flowers before the pepper comes. Tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and tobacco come from the same family, the nightshade family of plants.
Although there are plenty of delicious nightshade varieties, other plants from the same family are lethal if eaten. Hemlock, which can be tragically mistaken for edible vegetables, paralyzes the heart and lungs if ingested.
How wild is that? Peppers are berries. They are in the same family as tomatoes and potatoes. You really do learn something new every day.