On Air Now
Smooth Breakfast with Eamonn Kelly 6am - 10am
17 September 2018, 15:57 | Updated: 21 September 2018, 10:04
You might have your favourite type of pepper, but could they all be technically the same, just with different levels of ripeness?
A tweet recently went viral, which convinced a lot of people that all the different colours of pepper are actually just one pepper of varying ripeness:
OK so I've just found out that green peppers turn yellow then orange then red and they're actually all the same pepper just less ripe and my mind is blown— Amy (@callmeamye) September 11, 2018
But is that really the case?
In a word: no.
While peppers do change colours, red, green and yellow peppers are not all the same.
In a 1996 study by Moser and Matile titled Chlorophyll breakdown in ripening fruits of Capsicum annuum (catchy), they tested some peppers "obtained from local dealers".
Moser and Matile explained that the transition from green to red occurs as the pepper ripens, and the chloroplast changes to chromoplast, which is either red or yellow.
However, the myth goes that a peppers is like a traffic light, and goes through being green, yellow, then orange, all the way to red.
In fact, a green pepper can actually turn yellow or red, but orange peppers don't turn red. The amount of pigment a pepper can create is predetermined by its DNA makeup. The more pigments there are, the darker the pepper. Thus, yellow, orange, and red peppers are actually different varieties of pepper.
As explained by botanist James Wong:
Although it *is* true that green peppers are just unripe regular ones, yellow, orange and red peppers are all genetically different varieties at full maturity.— James Wong (@Botanygeek) September 14, 2018
Their DNA predetermines the maximum amount of pigments they can produce, which creates this variation in colour. pic.twitter.com/g6zGi2YRgP