savor “Bell peppers sell the best,” Milne says. “They’re
the ones people are used to and know how to use.
They bring a better price than a hot pepper. But
there’s a difference as far as production. With hot
peppers, you’ll have a lot more peppers per plant as
opposed to a bell pepper, so it kind of evens out.”
Bell peppers decorate the grocery aisle in tempt-ing
hues of green, orange, yellow and red. The
colors indicate maturity levels, and taste. Green
peppers are not fully ripe, and are more bitter than
their counterparts. Typically, orange and yellow
peppers are more mature but not fully ripe, and
have more vitamin C and beta-carotene, lending
sweeter notes. Red peppers are fully ripe, and the
Bell peppers are commonly grilled or baked, or
add crunch when served raw. They can accompany
meat like steak or grilled chicken, or sometimes are
shoved between the two on a shish kebab.
They add flavor, texture and color when served
raw in salads. For a simple, health-conscious
approach, many ditch the pita and prefer scooping
hummus with bell peppers.
In this year’s crop, Milne has an orange Garfield
pepper, the Italian cornito giallo, and a Japanese
shishito, which has a sweet flavor. The shishito
trend became popular with Charleston chefs and
eventually found its way up to Wilmington. Milne
has two whole rows of them on his farm.
One of his clients is Doss, who says one of his
favorite late-summer dishes involves the shishito.
“We do a grilled shishito dish at Pembroke’s
where we fire them up and grill them real quick,”
he says. “Last year, we did it with hummus and
The shishito hails from East Asia. It turns red
upon maturing, but is usually harvested green
(although Doss said he likes both red and green).
The name shishi refers to the tip, which looks like
the head of a lion.
With a sweet, crowd-pleasing flavor, grilled
shishitos have gone beyond restaurants to back-yard
cookouts. They can be served as an appetizer,
sprinkled with salt, simmered in olive oil, and
accompanied by a yogurt, sour cream, lemon and
mayonnaise-based dipping sauce.
While Doss serves dishes with shishitos, he pre-fers
cooking with hot peppers. He favors working
with jalapeños, because they are “not too hot but
you get some spice.”
“We generally make a few fermented hot sauces
every year,” he says. “I normally look for jalapeños
for that so they’re not too terribly hot, something
we can cook with. And I like putting sweeter bell
peppers in shrimp ’n grits.”