Pepperoncini are a standard in antipasti in Italy, and you can eat these peppers straight out of a jar.
You can also use these delicious peppers to instantly add a zing to everything from steaks to sauces.
So what exactly are Pepperoncini?
They are Italian peppers from the same family as jalapenos and poblanos.
The difference between pepperoncini and jalapenos or poblanos is that the former is a lot less spicy than jalapenos or poblanos.
Pepperoncini are also called Tuscan peppers. These peppers are typically harvested when they are yellow-green and around two or three inches long.(1)
You can instantly spice up your food and enhance its nutritional value by using pepperoncini peppers. To learn more about why and how you can use these pepper, keep reading!
What is Pepperoncino (Friggitello)?
You’ve probably eaten Pepperoncini peppers already without realizing it.
These peppers are quite common in popular American foods such as pizzas, salads, sandwiches, and antipasti.
The pepperoni peppers are mild and easy to find.
Pepperoncini are very mild, and the heat level is similar to pimento peppers. The heat in these peppers is tangy.
The tanginess in Pepperoncini are enhanced if these peppers are pickled.
Pepperoncino is originally from Europe, more specifically, Greece and Italy.(2)
In Italy, it is called peperone, the general name for pepper. Other names are the Golden Greek pepper and Sweet Italian pepper.
Pepperoncini or friggitelli are two to three inches in length with a tapered appearance similar to the Anaheim pepper.
They also resemble the Banana pepper closely.
The Pepperoncino starts out with a green color which slowly ripens to a red. Pickled pepperoncini peppers are usually green colored.
Nowadays, most local grocers stock pickled Pepperoncino. You can look for them in the canned products area with other pickled products.
Alternatively, you can choose to order these peppers online for bulk purchases or higher quality peppers that may not be available at local grocery stores.
While some regular stores stock fresh Pepperoncino, but it’s more likely that you’ll need to visit a specialty store to procure raw Pepperoncino.
Alternatively, you can grow your own peppers. More about this later!
One serving usually contains only about ten calories.(3)
Apart from being low in calories, the good news is that these peppers contain only negligible amounts of fat.
The protein content is also almost non-existent.
Each pepper has less than one gram of dietary fiber. The carbohydrates in a serving size of four peppers are about 2 grams which comprise one percent of the recommended daily carbohydrate intake for adults.
The sodium in the peppers depends on how they are served, and typically three or four peppers can contain sodium ranging from zero to 600 mg.
A 100 gr serving of pepperoncini has about 45 mg of Vitamin C.
According to the USDA, Vitamin C intake is recommended at 75 gm for adult women and 90 gms for adult men.(4)
Peperoncini peppers are also rich in Vitamin A.
So, include Pepperoncini peppers in your diet to get a good dosage of Vitamin C while enhancing the flavors of your meals!
Incorporating Pepperoncini peppers in your diet can give you a multitude of benefits. If you are looking to slim down or even maintain your current weight, include friggitelli in your meals.
These peppers are low in fats and fat deposits, making them ideal for any weight loss/weight maintenance plans.
They are rich in Vitamin C (mentioned above). These peppers will give you a healthy dose of antioxidants which may cancel out the impact of free radicals in your body.
These peppers may also decrease the risk of high cholesterol levels and promote proper blood circulation.
Additionally, Pepperoncino contains Vitamin A which can help maintain your eyesight and overall wellness.
Pepperoncino also contains capsaicin which creates heat energy (thermogenic).
Capsaicin raises the metabolic rate of the body and assists in weight loss and reduces the risk of heart attacks.(5)
They help in alleviating bowel ailments due to its fiber content. Including these peppers in your diet can help you with constipation.
While these peppers can be had fresh, it is difficult to find fresh friggitelli.
The commonly found pickled version has high sodium content due to the salt used for preserving the peppers.
If you are looking to reduce your salt intake, be cautious while consuming pickled Pepperoncino.
Growing Pepperoncino in your kitchen garden
Since fresh are hard to find, you can consider growing your own peppers. The things that you will need are:
- Pepperoncini seedlings (from a nursery)
- 5-10-10 Organic fertilizer
- Straw or compost
Planting the seedlings
- You will need to carefully remove the seedlings from the nursery trays and get their roots wet through soaking them properly in water. If you find that the roots are tightly bunched up together, cautiously tear them apart. Pepperoncino should be planted when the night temperatures remain above 55 degrees Fahrenheit consistently.
- Sandy soil is excellent for growing Pepperoncino, but such soil drains faster and may need more irrigation. Dig a hole twice as deep as the root ball and space holes approximately 12 to 18 inches apart. If the soil is dense and does not drain correctly, you can use organic materials to improve its quality.
- Now, you can place the root balls in the holes and ensure that the soil on top of the roots is level with the earth.
Maintenance and harvesting
Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation to water the seedlings so that the soil is moist till about four feet deep.
- If you want hotter peppers, restrict watering to once a week.
- Use a 5-10-10 fertilizer on a monthly basis. You should use half a cup of the organic fertilizer in a one to three inches deep bed. Make sure that you stay about four inches away from the plant’s stem.
- You will need to harvest your peppers with their stems before they are fully matured. The color will be yellow or green, and the harvesting is typically done about 70 days from planting. Remember, if your peppers change colors from yellow to orange, they start to lose their flavor.
Also, remember that if your peppers begin to wilt despite you watering them regularly, it is most likely an indication that you are overwatering the plants.
An excellent substitute for Pepperoncini peppers are banana peppers.(9)
Both these chilies are mild and have nearly the same range of the Scoville heat index which is between 100 and 500 SHU for Pepperoncino and between 0 and 100 SHU for banana peppers.
Also, these peppers have a mild and tangy taste with Pepperoncino being a bit tangier.
Banana peppers are widely available pickled and canned and are an awesome substitute for Pepperoncini peppers. These two peppers are so similar that they even look alike!
If you are looking to substitute pepperoni with something hotter, then the Hungarian Wax peppers are an ideal option. With a Scoville heat range of 5,000 to 10, 000 SHU, these peppers are nowhere near the mild Pepperoncini on heat levels.
But the Hungarian Wax peppers have the same tangy flavor as the Pepperoncini and look similar too.
The Hungarian Wax peppers are hard to find in the pickled form. It’s easier to find the Hungarian Wax peppers fresh being a chef favorite due to their high spice quotient!
Another substitute are Poblano peppers.
The Poblano falls in the heat range of 1,000 to 1,500 SHU which is in effect a slight increase in the heat of this pepper relative to Pepperoncini.
Both the Pepperoncino and Poblano are mild peppers though there is a significant difference in the flavors. The Poblano has a rich, earthy flavor with meaty walls while Pepperoncini are thin-walled and tangy.
While the Poblano peppers are not an ideal fit, it could work for you if you’re in the search for a mild heat replacement for Pepperoncini.
For more check are article about all the best Red Chili Pepper Substitutes.
Now that you know all about these peppers, how do you use them to make some delicious, exotic dishes?
Take a look at the recipes below!
- Bacon-6 pieces cut into minute pieces
- Half a cup of minced shallots
- One minced red bell pepper
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- One tablespoon of milk
- 32 ounces of Pepperoncini peppers
- Two beaten eggs
- 1 cup dried breadcrumbs with Italian seasoning
- Half a cup of parmesan cheese
- Coarsely ground pepper
- 1 and a half lbs of chicken breast diced into cubes
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 lbs of sliced mushrooms
- One big chopped onion
- ½ cup of white wine
- ½ cup of Pepperoncini peppers
Pepperoncini peppers have a host of nutritional benefits and can be a great addition to your meals.
You can use these versatile peppers in a variety of ways that suit your taste buds. It can be a problem to find fresh peppers, but you can easily grow your own, organic and take your recipes to the next level.
Pickled Pepperoncino is conveniently available, and you can use these with your favorite pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and burgers!