The long-lifed pepper -- if you grow it, how to eat it

During the summer and on into fall, my wife makes good use of the sweet peppers that come out of the garden. Generally she combines them with tomatoes, onions, and a few mushrooms in a tangy flavor-filled dish that goes well with just about any meal. It makes a particularly welcome addition to one which is light on meat.

fortunately, garden-picked peppers store well for several weeks in refrigerator or unheated shed at this time of the year. (Remember, those store-bought peppers, which have no more than a two-week storage life, were probably picked some while before you made the purchase).

In any event, the dozen or so remaining peppers currently stored on a table in our cool breezeway will show no sign of aging, although more than a full month has gone by since the threat of a heavy frost caused me to pick the lot. all told, our garden yield 68 sweet peppers this past season.

The fact that we enjoy peppers so much came up in a recent conversation with Jim Willson, executive secretary of All America Selections. His response: "Why don't you take a Gypsy to dinner next year?" I didn't know Gyspies liked peppers that much, nor was I acquainted with any Gypsy well enough to invite him home to dinner.

Then it came: the Gypsy he was referring to is a new sweet pepper -- the only All-America Awards winner among vegetalbes for 1981!

Gypsy is being suggested as "the other pepper" to grow next year along with the bell and hot chili varieties. Gypsy is sweet, wedge-shaped, but not as thick-walled as the big stuffing peppers.But it is tender and crunchy and just fine for both salads and sautes.

And they are heavy producers. In one trial garden last year, Gypsy bushes bore between 12 and 18 peppers each, averaging between 3 and 4 inches long. That's the sort of production that makes a pepper-lover light up in anticipation.

Plants grow up to 20 inches in height with a spread of between 14 and 18 inches -- "a little more in humid regions " says mr. Willson.

Another plus for the Gypsy: It bears within 55 days of setting out and fruits abundantly in cool as well as warm regions. It also freezes well. Simply cut it open, remove the seeds, and slice thinly. There's no need to blanche this vegetable. Pack in convenient meal-sized quantities and store in the freezer until an appropriate menu clls it out.

Think of it: You can have Gypsies to dinner next year whether you're into violins or not.

Meanwhile, here is the ever-so-simple but tasty pepper dish:

Take 2 medium to large peppers, 2 medium tomatoes, 3 medium onions, and 8 fresh mushrooms. Remove seeds from the peppers and peel the onions. Dice or slice everything.

Add a little oil to a frying pan or skillet and saute all the ingredients together until teh peppers and onions are tender. In a few minutes the dish will be ready to serve. On the other hand, overcooking won't harm the flavor at all. If anything, it gets a little more tangy.

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