Bell peppers are often referred to as sweet peppers, though there are differences in the texture and taste of the two kinds of peppers. Knowing what separates them and how to tell them apart is important not just for the palette, but for cooking as well. The standard bell pepper will give food a vastly different taste than will a sweet pepper, even when uncooked. Telling the difference between the two can help in the selection process at the store or market, and in the garden.
Telling the Difference Between Bell Peppers and Sweet Peppers
Check the color of the pepper. Bell peppers used to be available in only two colors: Green and red. However, with innovations in breeding, the colors of a standard bell pepper can include orange, yellow and purple. Typically, a green, red or even purple pepper will be similar in taste - they taste like a crisp, fresh vegetable. Orange and yellow peppers, on the other hand, have a much sweeter taste; like a mixture of a vegetable and fruit.
Notice the appearance of the peppers. A standard bell pepper will be mostly blocky in shape with three or four lobes on the bottom of the pepper. Sweet peppers, such as sweet banana or sweet cherry peppers, have a long shape that tapers down to one to three lobes at the bottom.
Taste the peppers. This seems like a fairly straight forward and simple action, but is a sure-fire method of telling the two apart. Since the bell pepper ranges in color, as does the sweet pepper, the best way to tell them apart is through taste. The bell pepper has a crisp, fresh taste similar to other vegetable such as a cucumber. Sweet peppers, because they have thinner walls than bell peppers, are softer to bite into and give off a sweet and fresh taste similar to a pear, but still resemble a vegetable.