Jerry Reid in Blairsville, Georgia

September 16, 2010 - Jerry Reid harvests bountiful crop in 2010

Jerry Reid has been gardening in Blairsville, Georgia a long time and is known for having a green thumb. He says, “2010 has been an especially good year for home vegetable gardens in Union County. Right now I’m covered up in peppers.” This summer, Jerry has harvested about every type of vegetable that is grown in North Georgia and he’s not done yet.

Tomatoes, giant sweet potatoes, and peppers are coming in now. Jerry eats all he can and gives the rest away. His family, neighbors, and friends in Union County have canned, frozen, and dried a lot of the bounty for eating during the winter months.

Jerry shares a favorite recipe. He says, “Take a pepper and stuff it with herbed cream cheese. Wrap it in bacon and bake until done.” He loaded me down with peppers so I could try out the recipe at home. He is right, stuffed banana peppers are delicious and the bacon makes them extra special. I am saving the hot chilies for soup beans and corn bread!

Peppers come in hundreds of varieties including chili peppers, bell peppers, banana peppers, cayenne peppers, and jalapeno peppers. Some are sweet, some are savory, some are hot, and some are downright dangerous! All belong to the genus Capsicum of the nightshade family.

If you eat hot peppers and can’t take the resulting heat, take a bite of sour cream or yogurt. Dairy fat dissolves capsaicin and counteracts the fire. Other remedies include drinking tomato juice or eating a fresh lemon. Never touch your eyes or mouth, or any part of your body when handling hot peppers.

Ripe peppers (red in color) contain very high amounts of vitamin C and carotene. In addition, peppers are a good source of most B vitamins, especially vitamin B 6. They are very high in potassium, magnesium, and iron. Their high vitamin C content can also greatly increase the uptake of iron from other ingredients in a meal, such as beans and grains.