If you didn’t know any better, you might say the name “banana pepper” is an oxymoron. There’s no way a banana goes with a pepper, right?
In the world of chili peppers, they certainly do!
Thankfully, they share little with their namesake outside of their color and shape. They’ve got a flavor all their own.
Read on to learn more about these peppers, like how to cook with them or grow your own.
Looking for banana pepper seeds? Check availability.
Characteristics of the Banana Pepper
These peppers resemble small, unripe bananas. By the time they’re ready to harvest, they’re 4-6 inches long, have a pale yellow color, and most have a slight curve.
When left to ripen on the plant for longer, these peppers will begin to change to orange, then eventually entirely red.
Banana peppers are known for a tangy, sometimes sweet flavor. The longer they’re on the plant, the sweeter they’ll be.
The texture of a yellow banana pepper is crispy and crunchy. Completely ripe and red ones will have lost a bit of the bite that comes with yellow ones.
Level of Heat
If you’re looking for spice, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
The Scoville scale measures the heat and spiciness of peppers. A banana pepper’s Scoville score is between 0-500.
For reference, the jalapeno’s score is between 4,000-8,500, and the dreaded Carolina Reaper tops the charts at 1,500,000+.
History of the Banana Pepper
In the 1400s, a distant relative of the banana pepper was grown in Central and South America. Stories say that Christopher Columbus brought many peppers back to Europe after he explored the “New World.”
The banana peppers we know and enjoy today were cultivated from Hungarian peppers.
The Corneli Seed Company introduced the seeds to America in 1940. They worked with a mutation from the Hungarian Wax Pepper and created a new, tangy, sweet pepper.
Ways to Enjoy the Banana Pepper
Pickling your peppers will make them last longer. A simple refrigerator recipe will make them last for up to 6 months, but you can extend that time if you follow a water-bath method.
When done, toss your newly pickled peppers anywhere you want the acidity of picked jalapenos without the spice. Use them to top your hot dog, or set them out for your next family taco night.
Raw peppers can be chopped or sliced and added to many dishes for tang and crunch.
Chop them finely and add them to a tuna salad. Slice them thinly and add them to a cold-cut sandwich. You could even use them as a topping on your next homemade pizza.
Stuffing a banana pepper can turn it from a simple pepper to the star of an appetizer or entree.
For a shining entree, check out Mary Berg’s stuffed banana peppers. Serve these sausage-stuffed peppers with a side of pasta and call dinner done.
If you love ooey, gooey cheese, try out cheesy stuffed banana peppers. Stuffed with garlic, spices, and three kinds of cheese, these are sure to be a hit at your next dinner party!
A single cup of this pepper will give your body over a quarter of the vitamin B-6 needed every day.
Vitamin B-6 is crucial to your nervous and immune systems functioning their best. It also plays a key role in healthy metabolisms.
A cup of banana peppers will also give you more than the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C.
Vitamin C boosts your immune system. It’s also tied to lowering blood pressure and reducing one’s risk of dementia or heart disease.
Capsaicin is more than the chemical that gives peppers their spice. It also plays a role in metabolism and digestion.
Some research has even suggested that capsaicin may reduce body fat’s ability to accumulate.
Because it’s a mild chili pepper, banana peppers don’t have a lot of capsaicin. But there’s still enough to provide health benefits!
Growing Your own Banana Peppers
These peppers are easy to grow in your home garden. We’ve got a pepper planting guide full of details, but here’s a quick overview of how to plant and care for your peppers.
Ideally, plant your seeds inside under a grow light 4-6 weeks before the last frost.
Use your finger to poke a hole 1/4″ into the soil. Because not every seed will germinate, putting two seeds in each hole is a good idea. You can thin seedlings out when transplanting.
Cover with soil and mist with water. Keep the seeds moist and keep them warm, with 14-16 hours of light daily.
When moving them outside, plant each seedling 12” apart.
Water your pepper plants thoroughly when the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry.
You should also add a layer of ground covering, like pine straw or mulch, around your plants to hold in moisture and block any potential weeds from getting the sunlight they need to grow.
Pests & Diseases
Your plants are most susceptible to pests in the spring when they’re young. Keep an eye on both sides of the leaves for any unwanted visitors and take steps to eradicate them if any make an appearance.
Fungal diseases are another thing to look out for, especially in humid conditions. Water your plants directly at the root to help keep the leaves dry.
Watch for any leaf abnormalities and treat with an antifungal if symptoms arise.
Your peppers are ready to harvest when they’re pale yellow and between 4-6 inches long.
You can wait until they’re longer and red since that’s when they’re technically ripe. However, that will change their texture and flavor.
Instead of being tangy with a crunch, they’ll be more tender and sweet.
Where to Buy Banana Pepper Seeds
Banana pepper seeds are available to purchase from Hoss Tools. Pick up a 30-count packet to try, or jump in with both feet and get 1,000 seeds!
If you want to fast-forward the process, pick up these Gold Rush Banana Pepper plugs from Hoss.
Wrapping Up the Banana Pepper
The banana pepper’s mild flavor and snappy texture make it an MVP in the chili pepper world because anyone can enjoy it.
It’s an easy-to-grow plant that will yield a lot of delicious peppers for you to prepare in your kitchen and share with the ones you love.
Learn more about peppers, including other varieties and plant care, by checking out our Peppers page!