Fun & Easy Science for Kids
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Pepper

 

Peppers. They’re brightly colored, crunchy, and delicious. They have more vitamin C than any other vegetable and they can be used in a variety of ways. Try them raw, grilled, or tossed in soups, stews, and other dishes. Spicy chile peppers add flavor to many foods, including Mexican, Thai, Chinese, and Indian foods.

 

Fun Facts

  • Peppers are technically a fruit and they belong to the nightshade family, along with potatoes and tomatoes. Plants in the nightshade family contain solanine, a poisonous substance that deters bugs. Some nightshade plants are highly poisonous to humans, but peppers are safe.
  • Some peppers are hot and spicy; others are sweet. The best way to cool your mouth after eating a spicy pepper is to drink milk. The proteins in milk bind with the capsaicin (the heat-producing compounds) in peppers and wash them away.
  • Peppers just might be the most versatile and colorful vegetable out there. Peppers come in rainbow hues, including red, orange, yellow, green, brown, and purple. They might be round like a cherry, squat and chunky, or long and thin.
  • Over 9,000 years ago, Native American healers used cayenne pepper to ease pain. Researchers today have found that capsaicin does block pain. Several medicines now contain this compound.
  • Parents sometimes punished Aztec children by holding them over the smoke from burning peppers. Ouch!
  • New Mexico grows more chile peppers than any other state.
  • Dried chili pepper chains – chile ristras – are thought to bring good luck.

 

Vocabulary

  1. Deter: discourage or stop
  2. Compound: a mixture of chemicals
  3. Aztec: an ethnic group found in Mexico

 

Questions and Answers

Question: What is the hottest chile pepper?

Answer: An English farmer has grown a chile pepper named “Dragon’s Breath,” which is so hot that eating it could kill you. The farmer believes the pepper could be used to numb pain in countries where other medicines aren’t available. It can numb the skin.

 

Learn More

Visit Chilli World to find how scientists determine a pepper’s heat.

Find out what it’s like to work on a chile farm in Arizona.

 

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