What are Pimentos (or Pimientos)?

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Pimentos are a type of small, round, red pepper with a sweet flavor and very mild heat. A part of the nightshade family, pimentos are also known as cherry peppers, because of their red color and round shape. A common use for pimentos is to dice them and stuff them into Spanish or Manzanilla olives. These pimento-stuffed olives are traditionally used for garnishing martinis. They're also used in making pimento cheese and pimento loaf. Because they're sweet and mild, whole pimentos can be stuffed and served as an appetizer. They are also pickled and sold in jars, usually described as cherry peppers. They're more aromatic than their cousin the bell pepper.

How Hot Are Pimentos?

Pimentos register between 100 and 500 Scoville heat units on the Scoville Scale, making them one of the mildest chili peppers. Pimentos have almost no heat to them and are usually considered to be sweet. In comparison to the heat of a jalapeno pepper, pimentos are about 40 times milder. If you're looking to add just a tiny kick to your dish, a pimento might do the trick.

Grow Your Own Pimentos

If you're looking to add some variety to your patio garden, you might want to try growing pimentos. Simply plant the seeds from a store bought pimento and leave the planted seeds inside for six to eight weeks. After the sprouting period, place the plants outside in a sunny spot. When you water your peppers make sure you water the base of the plant, not the leaves. Damp leaves can sometimes cause the pimentos not to grow. You'll know your pimentos are ready when they take on a bright shiny red color. Use a garden clipper to remove the peppers to avoid damaging your plant. Pimentos are very susceptible to frost if the weather predicts temperatures below 60 either take your plants inside or cover them.

Health Benefits of Pimentos

Pimentos aren't just a fancy martini garnish; they're also full of nutritional value. Now, if you suffer from chronic heartburn or IBS pimentos may not be the best for your diet, but for those with healthy digestive tracks, pimentos are packed with vitamins. They're loaded with vitamins A and C which both promote healthy immune systems. Vitamin C also helps strengthen skin, teeth and blood vessels. Pimentos also have about three percent of the daily recommended amount of folate. Because of their high folate concentration, they're considered especially good for pregnant women. Pimentos are also loaded with vitamin K which helps prevent osteoporosis.

Pimentos in Your Paprika?

Paprika is a popular spice used around the world. It's made by grounding various peppers down to a fine powder. Different parts of the world use different peppers in their paprika. In some regions of Spain and the United States, pimentos are a popular pepper to make paprika out of. Many chefs prefer the mild, sweet flavor of the pimento over the heat of other capsaicin heavy peppers. You can make your own paprika by drying and grinding your own pimentos.