Steaming is an effective way of cooking nearly any vegetable, including red or green bell peppers or hot chili peppers. Nutrients are retained because the steam heats the peppers, which never touch the water. Steamed peppers also maintain their flavor, color and much of their crispy texture. Depending on the variety and maturity, peppers provide fiber, potassium, calcium and vitamins A and C.
Wash peppers under cool, running water, using a soft vegetable brush. Cut bell peppers in half, then use the tip of your paring knife to remove the seeds, stem and fiber. Steam the halves if you're making a dish such as stuffed peppers. Other recipes may call for peppers cut into chunks. You can also steam whole peppers. Cut off the top, then scrape out the seeds, stems and fiber. Steam smaller peppers whole.
Protect your hands with gloves while cleaning hot chili peppers, then wash your hands even if you wear gloves. Never touch your eyes because hot peppers contain oils strong enough to cause painful burns. Because chili peppers are small in size, you can steam them whole, or you can cut them in half and use a spoon or knife to remove the fibers inside.
Steaming requires a deep saucepan with a lid and a metal colander or steamer that fits in the saucepan. If you want to steam whole bell peppers, use a steamer large enough to hold the peppers upright. Place about 2 inches of water in the pan. Don't use too much water — if the water is high enough to touch the bottom of the steamer, you'll end up with boiled peppers instead of steamed peppers.
To steam peppers, place the peppers in the basket when the water comes to a boil. Cover the pan tightly, then turn the burner down so the water simmers. Steam whole peppers for approximately 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the desired level of doneness. Pepper chunks or small, whole peppers steam in 2 to 5 minutes.
- University of Maine Cooperative Extension; Bell Peppers; Nellie Hedstrom; 2008
- Alabama Cooperative Extension System: Steaming Vegetables
- Purdue University; 4-H Youth Development: Cooking Fresh Vegetables; 2002
- University of Illinois Extension: Peppers
- Iowa State University Extension; Peppers; Eldon Everhart, et al.; June 2009
- Kansas State University Extension; Preserving Bell Peppers; October 2010