The Spanish term for Sweet Peppers (Capsicum Chinense) is Ajies Dulces – They are native to Latin America and the Caribbean. The sweet peppers are bright green. However, when left long enough on the plant, they turn yellow, orange and red. They slightly resemble the habanero pepper in appearance but are sweet with a unique aroma and flavor. The Taíno Indians cultivated the sweet peppers in Puerto Rico. Furthermore, they are an integral part of the Puerto Rican cookery especially for preparing our puréed condiment – Sofrito.
I grow my own ajies dulces in the Midwest during the summer months. Once they are harvested, I cut them in halves and remove the seeds. I then place at least 8 halves of the ajies dulces in a vacuum seal bag. After they are sealed, they are stored in the freezer for future use. Whenever I am preparing soups and stews that list sweet peppers as an ingredient, I have them readily available to add to my dish.
In addition, I place the seeds on a paper towel to dry for several days. When dried, I place the seeds inside a plastic container and cover with lid. They are then stored in a dry area like my kitchen pantry. In January, the seeds are then planted in small peat pots until they are transplanted outdoors during Memorial Day weekend.
You can purchase the ajies dulces at your local Latin Market or learn How You Can Grow Ajies Dulces.
Alternatives for Sweet Peppers (Ajies Dulces)!
Cubanelle peppers (Capsicum Annuum) are known as Italian frying pepper and Cuban pepper. They are yellowish-green in color and turn to a bright red color when they become ripe. Compared to the ajies dulces, they are longer and sweeter. The Cubanelle peppers are mainly imported from the Dominican Republic. You can substitute sweet peppers (ajies dulces) with cubanelle peppers.