Have you ever had a scoop of pimento cheese and suddenly thought, what are pimentos?
You’re not alone. So let’s find out together!
These little red peppers are a staple of Southern cooking and can be found in everything from pimento cheese to deviled eggs.
But what are pimentos, where do they come from, and why are they so darn tasty?
What Are Pimentos?
Pimentos are a type of pepper often found stuffed into olives. They’re very mild in flavor (they sit between 100 and 500 on the Scoville scale) and even a little sweet, which is why they’re also known as Cherry Peppers. They’re 3-4 inches long and a couple of inches wide with red skin and a thick green stem.
Pimentos are great for adding color and flavor to your dishes, and they also pack a punch of vitamins and antioxidants.
So next time you’re feeling adventurous in the kitchen, don’t forget the pimentos!
How Did the Pimento Get Its Name?
Native to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, this mild pepper has been cultivated for thousands of years.
But the origin of the name is not entirely clear.
The name “pimento” is derived from the Spanish word “pimiento,” which means pepper. It’s believed the name was given due to its resemblance to other types of peppers, such as chili peppers.
The pimento is often used in Mediterranean and Latin American cuisine. It’s great for adding flavor and sweetness to dishes such as stews, soups, and salads.
In the United States, pimentos are most often seen in drinks (olives) and in pimento cheese.
What Do Pimentos Taste Like?
Pimentos have a sweet and mild taste. They’re not spicy like other types of peppers, such as jalapeños or habaneros. Instead, they have a fruity and slightly tangy flavor, with a subtle hint of spice.
The texture of pimentos is also unique.
They’re firm and crisp when fresh, and have a slightly chewy texture when canned.
The flavor can be enhanced when roasted or grilled, which brings out the natural sweetness and gives them a smoky flavor.
Their unique flavor and texture make them a popular choice in many different types of cuisine.
How to Use Pimentos
To prep pimentos, the first step is to get rid of the stems!
From there, you can dice them, slice them, or roast them whole, and they’ll work well in everything from rice dishes to salads.
Pimento cheese is probably one of the most well-known uses. It’s a cool creamy cheese dip best served with crackers, bread, and breadsticks.
Or, use them like any other bell pepper in Mexican dishes, chilis, soups, and even pasta or risotto.
The options are endless, so spice up your cooking with some bright and flavorful pimentos!
Where to Buy Pimentos
From fresh to jarred, here’s where you’ll find pimentos:
- Your local grocery store: This may be a bit obvious, but don’t overlook this option! Most major supermarkets will carry both fresh and jarred varieties of pimentos.
- Farmers markets: If you’re looking for something locally grown, then you should definitely check out your local farmers’ market. You’ll be able to find some of the freshest peppers around and may even get the chance to sample before you buy!
- Online stores: Don’t have time (or energy) to run around town looking for pimentos? No problem – just hop online and order them from an online store!
How to Store Pimentos
Jarred pimentos are a convenient pantry staple, with a shelf life of nine months in the fridge once opened.
If you’re lucky enough to score fresh pimentos, store them in the crisper for up to a week.
Keep in mind that farmers market produce lasts longer than grocery store fare.
For long-term storage, freeze pimentos after washing and drying them. You can slice, dice, or keep them whole – it’s up to you.
While they may lose some texture, their flavor will remain intact for about six months.
And when you’re ready to thaw them, they’ll be the perfect addition to any cooked dish, adding a pop of vibrant color and taste.
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