Determinate or Indeterminate? Determinate varieties bear their entire crop at one time, making them a top choice for preserving. Indeterminate varieties have fruit ripening over an extended season, and are likelier to need growing supports such as stakes or cages.
Beefsteak/Slicing – perfect between bread with other sandwich fillings, or on their own, as a classic `mater sandwich! These meaty types also work well for cooking and preserving, and quickly reduce down to a thick sauce.
Salad – these types may not hold together well as slices, but are perfect for cutting into large chunks of juicy tomato goodness for salad tossing. They take longer to thicken when cooked for sauce, but are worth the flavorful results.
Plum/Paste/Sauce – These egg to plum shaped varieties are tasty in salads, but at their best when used for cooking and preserving. They hold their shape well when canned or sliced and break down quickly to a rich sauce when cooked.
Cherry/Grape/Pear – Shaped as their names imply, and very small in size, these are perfect for popping into your mouth or mixing into salads. Excellent roasted whole, as a topping for flatbread or for tossing with pasta and olive oil.
Heirloom – Cherished for their full flavor and interesting shapes and colors, there are heirloom varieties suitable for eating fresh, cooking, or preserving. They are grown from non-hybrid seed, passed down through multiple generations of gardeners.
All peppers can be utilized for fresh eating and cooking as soon as they reach their mature size, but flavor/sweetness/heat increases as they ripen from green to their final coloring of red, orange, yellow, purple, etc.
Sweet (Bell, Tapered Bell, Mini Bell, Some Banana types & Pimento) – Sweet peppers come in a range of shapes, sizes and colors. They work well for fresh eating, soups, sautés, stir-fry and pizza topping. They also freeze well when sliced.
Hot (Chile, Jalapeno, Habanera, Cayenne, Ancho (pablano), and Some Banana types) – Some sources class several, or all, hot peppers under “Chile”. No matter their name, hot peppers in their many forms are popular in a range of ethnic cuisines; fresh, cooked, pickled or dried. Be cautious not to get their oils onto your hands or near your eyes.
Ornamental (Mini Bell, Mini Pimento & Chile) – Ornamental peppers are generally grown as decorative elements for their dainty, colorful fruits on compact plants. While they are edible, be cautious; nursery grown selections may have been treated with pesticides commonly used on ornamental plants.