While young, a bell pepper will have a mild bitter flavor that becomes sweeter as it matures, but not necessarily when fully ripe. If the peppers are not harvested when mature but are allowed to ripen on the vine, their flavor becomes progressively more mild and slightly sweeter until they are fully ripened. Bell peppers are eaten raw and commonly served fresh as snacks in relishes or salads, adding a fresh taste and a crunchy texture. They are also baked, grilled or sautéed to be used as ingredients for savory dishes, stir-fried dishes, or main dishes when stuffed with other foods and baked. Roasted bell peppers are an excellent way to prepare sweet peppers for sauces, pasta dishes, salads, sandwiches, and savory foods. Roasting the pepper caramelizes the sugars in the pepper, resulting in a sweet flavored enhancement to many different foods.
Bell peppers are available throughout the year but most varieties are available during the warmer months. When selecting, choose those with shiny, even colored skins that are not blemished or bruised. Avoid peppers with shriveled skins. They can be stored for at least a week if placed in a plastic bag and kept in the refrigerator. The riper the pepper is when harvested, the less time it will maintain its freshness.