Hot Tamale

yellow, purple, orange, light green and dark peppers are a bountiful bouquet
of colors and flavors. Crunchy and sweet, the vine grown vegetables offer
a fresh release of taste with each bite.

shiny lustrous peppers we purchase in the market are contemplated, studied
and restudied by Dr. Yonatan Elkind of the Faculty of Agricultural, Food
and Environmental Quality Sciences of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In a joint project with Zeraim Gedera Seed Co., researchers are seeking
to grow peppers and pepper seeds in the Arava desert.

While maintaining the high nutritional
quality of peppers, researchers are trying to grow a plant that has uniformly-shaped
peppers with thick, firm walls, lustrous color and no streaks or cracking.
Optimally, peppers should range in size from 160 to 450 grams.

While genetically engineered peppers
may be relatively easy to grow, selling them is an entirely different order.
Researchers and growers are eager to overcome skepticism about eating genetically
modified organisms. Once cautious consumers are won over, these vegetables
with both a longer shelf life and great taste will be inexpensive to produce
and ship to worldwide markets.

The growing conditions in the Arava
are optimal due to low fungus and disease growth and the plants require a
minimum use of pesticides. Wise production methods here allow for relatively
inexpensive, simple greenhouse structures. Peppers harvested between November
and May are mainly exported with 2nd and 3rd grade produce being sold in
the local market.

As peppers are extremely sensitive
to variations in temperature, Israel’s Arava desert is a good place to grow
them. The Arava’s year-round warm temperature and low humidity create a low
risk of fungus or disease and minimal need for pesticides.

Peppers thrive in 16-18oC weather.
At 18oC night temperature, the peppers ripen rapidly but their taste is
less sweet and the overall quality is reduced.

Temperate peppers are also sensitive
to saline in water. To combat the high salt content of the water, additional
water is used to wash salt away from the roots.

The challenge facing researchers now
is to grow strong, healthful, easily adaptable seeds and peppers to pass
on to you, the consumer.

Quiz: Why are green peppers
less sweet than red or orange or yellow peppers?
Answer:Red, yellow and orange peppers are really green
peppers — they remain longer on the vine and that is why they are sweeter.

Text by
M. Kaplan-Green


  • To keep those peppers fresher longer,
    store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
  • If you see mold
    on the seeds of a pepper, know that it is caused by a fungus that attacks
    the plant’s flower.

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