If you love peppers, here’s one you need to try: pimento. Pimento peppers are the personification of short and sweet. Although they’re a chili pepper, there’s nothing spicy or intense about them.
These delicious little peppers pair well with many dishes, and they’re so delicate, they’ll suit almost any palette.
Want to learn more about pimentos? In this post, we’re going to walk you through everything you need to know, including what they are, their origins, how to eat them, and more.
What Is Pimento?
Pimento, also called Pimiento, is a type of small and sweet cherry chili pepper. They’re known for their deep red colorings, and heart-shaped fruits. Pimentos are sweeter than your traditional bell pepper, and they have a distinctively mild flavor.
Despite being a chili pepper, Pimentos have the lowest rating on the Scoville scale, sitting between 100-500 heat units.
Pimentos are usually used as a garnish, and you’ll also see them in the center of olives, or mixed into cheese. Although they’re usually red, pimentos can also come in yellow, green, and maroon.
Green pimentos are immature, and red when they reach maturity. They’re approximately 7-10 cm long and 5-7cm wide.
Pimento also appears in other unique forms. For example, in some parts of Spain and the US, pimentos are used to make paprika, which gives this traditional spice a milder, sweeter flavor.
Where Does The Name Pimento Come From?
Everything about pimentos, including their name, is unique. What we call ‘pimento’ today (or pimiento) actually originates from Spanish and Portuguese, and it has changed over time.
Historically, the Portuguese and Spanish terms ‘pimento’ and ‘pimiento’ were used to describe a bell pepper. However, the words slowly changed meaning in their native languages, and are now used to refer to any type of pepper.
Are Pimentos Healthy?
Pimentos are an excellent addition to a healthy, balanced diet. They’re high in vitamins K, A, C, and E, and low in cholesterol and saturated fats. They also provide plenty of minerals, including iron, copper, potassium, and manganese.
What Do Pimentos Taste Like?
Pimentos have a mild and delicate flavor. If you can’t tolerate spicy peppers, you’ll have no trouble with these sweet peppers. If you’ve ever eaten a bell pepper, you’ll notice some similarities in flavor, however, pimentos tend to be more aromatic.
Pimentos are a tasty, versatile ingredient that can be added to a variety of dishes. Their sweet, aromatic flavor will provide an element of mystery to many recipes, but once you’ve got used to their flavor, you’ll be able to recognize them anywhere.
How To Eat Pimentos
There are so many ways to eat pimentos, you’ll be truly spoilt for choice. However, olives and pimentos are a timeless pairing that many people enjoy on their appetizer plates.
You can also eat pimentos in a number of dips and spreads, by mixing them with ingredients like mayo, cheddar, cream cheese, and more.
When added to condiments, pimentos bring a slightly sweet, tangy flavor that can really elevate the taste of your other ingredients. You could also include your piments in a salad, a pasta dish, or a burger – seriously, the opportunities are endless!
Pimentos And Olives
Pimentos and olives are the most common pairing, and you’ll usually find them in the center of a green olive.
Until the beginning of the 1960s, workers would slice pimentos and stuff them inside olives by hand which, as you can imagine, was a pretty labor-intensive task.
However, with the help of modern machinery, most pimentos are mashed up with gelatin and injected into the cavity of pitted olives.
The sweet taste of the pimento balances out the salty, strong, and sometimes harsh flavor of the olives. It’s a truly timeless pairing, and one we’d definitely recommend trying for yourself.
Where Can You Buy Pimentos?
Thankfully, pimentos aren’t that hard to come by. In your grocery store, you’ll usually find them jarred, alongside pickles and olives.
If you’re in a store that stocks a larger variety of food, you may be able to find them fresh. Once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll start finding pimentos almost everywhere!
If you’re a keen home grower, you could even try growing pimentos yourself. However, pimentos have a rather long growing cycle and tend to do best in warmer climates with a consistent supply of water.
If you do manage to grow your own pimentos and you want to get creative, you could even try making your own paprika. Simply dry out your pimentos (either in the sun or in the oven), and grind them up.
This will give a totally different flavor of paprika than you’re used to; it’s much sweeter, but boy, does it taste good!
How To Store Pimentos
If you’re using jarred pimentos, once opened, they’ll be safe for up to nine months. If you manage to find fresh pimentos, they’ll keep in your refrigerator for around a week, depending on how fresh they were when you bought them.
If you source your pimentos from a farmer’s market, they’ll probably last longer.
If you want to make the most of your pimentos, you can always freeze them. Simply wash and dry them, and then freeze them as you wish. This could be whole or sliced (sliced tends to be more convenient), and they’ll keep well for around six months.
Then, when you’re ready to use them, simply defrost and you’re good to go! If you’re adding your pimentos to a warm dish, you can simply throw them in a pan and let them cook on low heat until defrosted.
The Bottom Line
Sweet, small, and juicy – pimentos are a truly tasty addition to many meals. Unlike other chili peppers, they aren’t spicy, and they’re so versatile that you can add them to almost any dish you’d usually add a bell pepper to.
If you want to get creative in the kitchen, you can even make your own condiments and use pimentos as your hero ingredient – they’ll bring a whole new dynamic to your flavors that you and your guests will love!
Pimentos can be found either jarred or fresh in your local grocery store.
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