Capsicum (Bell Pepper): De-seeding and trimming – two methods
The first method is one that I adopted from Jamie Oliver, who demonstrated it on one of his TV shows. It’s fun because you use your hands and tear things! The second method uses a knife and allows for more precision when it comes to slicing and dicing, which is important if you want nice julienne slices or neat dice.
How to De-seed a Capsicum (Bell Pepper) – Method 1
- Hold the capsicum in your hand so that the stalk (or more formally the peduncle, see The Anatomy of a Pepper below) is facing you and upright.
- Press your thumb straight down between where the peduncle (stalk) meets the capsicum, i.e. at the calyx (see The Anatomy of a Pepper below). Press with the thumbnail part of your thumb (as opposed to the pad of the thumb). You should press through to the inside of the pepper.
- Turn the capsicum around and repeat on the opposite side, this should loosen the peduncle/calyx/placenta and it will drop into the cavity of the capsicum. If it doesn’t loosen, then give it a quarter turn and repeat (i.e. press in between the two previous attempts).
- If the capsicum has a longer peduncle (stalk), it can be used to pull it back out through the opening. Otherwise proceed to the next step.
- Hold the capsicum so that both thumbs rest inside the hole that was left by the peduncle (stalk). Tear the capsicum into two.
- Remove the peduncle (if not already removed), calyx, and placenta and discard. Discard any remaining seeds.
- Using a sharp knife, carefully fillet the white flesh out (the endocarp) and discard. I tend to slice the capsicum parallel to the white flesh which then makes it easier to fillet.
- Continue to prepare the capsicum as required (diced in the example below).
How to De-seed a Capsicum (Bell Pepper) – Method 2
- Lie the capsicum on the chopping board so that it’s on its side.
- Top and tail the capsicum.
- Stand the capsicum upright and slice down on both sides of the white flesh (the endocarp). This should cut out the peduncle, calyx, and placenta from the capsicum.
- Using a sharp knife, carefully fillet out any remaining white flesh and discard.
- Continue to prepare the capsicum as required (julienned in the example below).
Nerd Notification: Etymology
Capsicum is the genus name for the plant, the species for the ‘Capsicum’ or Bell Pepper in particular is Capsicum annuum. The origin of ‘Capsicum’ is unknown, though it is possibly from the Latin capsa (n.) meaning “box” due to its shape. ‘Capsicum’ was adopted as the genus name from the writings of Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (a French botanist), who didn’t leave an explanation for the word.1
From Old English pipor. Pipor itself comes from an early West Germanic borrowing of the Latin piper (n.) meaning “pepper” (not referring to the capsicum variety as these are a native of South America). In turn this can be traced back to the Sanskit pippali (“long pepper”). The Latin piper is the source for the German Pfeffer, the Italian pepe, the French poivre, Old Church Slavonic pipru, the Lithuanian pipiras, Old Irish piobhar, and the Welsh pybyr. The use of the term “Pepper” in relation to the capsicum dates from the sixteenth century.2