|The Bull Nose Pepper, from Burr, p. 234|
Peppers are native to the Americas, but have been cultivated worldwide since the Columbian Exchange. Peppers more correctly should be called "Capsicum," but were given the nickname by Christopher Columbus and it stuck. Archaeologists surmise that the first peppers were domesticated in South America about 6000 years ago. Peppers are thought to be one of the earliest cultivated crops in the region.
This year, I will be growing two heirloom peppers -- Bull Nose and Lipstick.
Bull Nose peppers are another wonderful selection cultivated by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. A sweet pepper with crisp and tender flesh, these were popular throughout the 1800s. The Bull Nose was the original Bell Pepper, sporting its stocky, rectangular shape. In his 1866 book, Garden Vegetables & How to Cultivate Them, Fearing Burr noted that the Bull Nose was the "best and most wholesome of all pickles" (p. 234). I find this statement intriguing because I have never considered peppers as a viable vegetable to pickle. But now, I think I have to try one.
I am also growing a Lipstick pepper this summer. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds markets this variety as an heirloom, but I was not able to find any specific information regarding its origins. Lipstick is a small red pimento-style pepper, elongated and very sweet. Several seed catalogs suggest stuffing them, and I think that would be really tasty.