If chilies can have a twin, then there is a solid reason to think that the banana pepper and pepperoncini are typical examples.
In fact, pepperoncini are often confused with banana peppers. Even though both come from the same species known as Capsicum annuum, they have a few main differences.
This article will help you identify and differentiate pepperoncini from a banana pepper so you will be able to use them correctly in cooking to get the required taste and flavor.
The Heat Content Contest – Which is Hotter According to the Scoville Scale?
When it comes to peppers, we all look at this category – the heat. So, is there any difference regarding heat between banana peppers and pepperoncini?
According to the Scoville scale, a measly one hundred SHU or Scoville heat units separate pepperoncini and banana peppers. Pepperoncini is in the 100 to 500 SHU range, while banana pepper is in the 0 to 500 SHU range.
When it comes to their overall heat potential, these two incredibly mild chilies offer the same gentle tickle to your taste buds. But, the main difference is that the banana pepper can dip down to zero heat. That being said, the pepperoncini can outperform the banana pepper at the low end of the scale, but both have the same potential at the high end of their heat range.
How do Banana Pepper and Pepperoncini Differ in Appearance?
These two chilies look somewhat similar, and telling them apart can be very difficult through sight alone. They both grow from 2 to 3 inches in length. Also, they both have the same greenish color and a curved pepper-like shape, which somewhat resembles the form of a banana.
So, how do they differ?
Check the Skin Texture of the Pepper
If you are looking for the difference, you can tell by examining the skin of the chilies. The surface of the pepperoncini is wrinkly compared to the skin of the banana pepper. Also, they tend to have more bends and pocks.
On the other hand, the banana pepper has smooth skin that resembles a banana, which it is named after.
However, there are times when pepperoncini have smoother skin.
The Shape of their Ends – Pointy Vs. Bulbous End
Yes, another way to tell the difference between pepperoncini and banana pepper is through the shape of the ends of the chilies.
Banana peppers tend to have pointer ends, while pepperoncini tend to have a more bulbous shape at the bottom.
But again, this is not always the case. So, the best thing that you can do to distinguish one from the other correctly is to examine and check both the skin and the end shape of the pepper.
Taste Test – Can You Tell the Difference between the Two through Taste?
These two peppers have similar flavors and will not impact the taste of your dish unless you are stuffing peppers. When you are stuffing peppers, you will notice that there is a slight taste difference here.
Both chilies have a slightly sweet and tangy flavor. However, pepperoncini tend to offer a more tangy taste than banana pepper. That said, this is one of the main reasons why it is considered a better pickling pepper.
What Benefits Can You Get from Pepperoncini?
Yes, there are various benefits that you can get from eating pepperoncini. First, it contains vitamin C, which is good for our immune system and prevents cell damage.
However, it is also important to note that the cooking process can destroy the Vitamin C content of the pepperoncini. If you want the highest level of Vitamin C from pepperoncini, you should consider eating them uncooked.
In addition to Vitamin C, this pepper also contains Vitamin A, which is good for eyesight, teeth, and skin. It even includes iron, which is essential for cell growth and delivery of oxygen throughout the body, and fiber, which is necessary for proper digestion, weight loss, and improvement of your immune system.
Why is Banana Pepper Good for You?
Just like pepperoncini, banana pepper offers numerous benefits and contains Vitamins A and C, along with iron.
Also, this pepper contains wide varieties of Vitamin B, which are essential in the release of energy from carbohydrates and are useful for weight loss and speeding up your metabolism. This pepper even contains magnesium, which is vital in the growing process, and calcium, which is essential for bone health.
Can you find them Fresh in Your Local Stores?
The banana pepper is a clear winner when it comes to purchasing fresh. In fact, this chili is considered one of the most common chilies you can find in your local stores.
While you may find pepperoncini fresh in your local stores, but not at the same level as you do with banana pepper.
Which Chili is Often Used in Pickled Products?
When it comes to product usage, pepperoncini is a more popular option.
Because of its tangier flavor and thinner walls, this chili is a better option with pickling. Pickled pepperoncini are widely available in local stores and even online. It adds the perfect tang of sandwiches and pizzas.
While picked banana peppers are also available, their taste does not par with pickled pepperoncini.
The Bottom Line
Despite their similarities, pepperoncini and banana pepper still have their unique differences, and their strengths have played out quite well regarding availability in local stores and product usage, and overall taste.
Banana pepper is slightly better when fresh and is readily available fresh in local stores. On the other hand, pepperoncini are somewhat better when pickled and are very common in stores in their pickled form.
While you may not be able to tell the difference between the two peppers in one quick glance, as they often look identical and pack the same heat content, there is still a lot more to them than that. Ultimately, both peppers are beneficial to your health.
Jen Lin-Liu is the founder of Black Sesame Kitchen. A Chinese-American writer and a nationally certified Chinese chef in Beijing. Jen is the author of two memoirs, Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China and On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta.