Bell peppers are delicious eaten raw in salads and as crudités, while they also appear in sauces, stews, soups, relishes and baked dishes. Large bells are excellent for stuffing and roasting, and any size pepper can be grilled or roasted and peeled.
Buy firm, smooth, bright-colored peppers. Bell peppers may be green, red, yellow, orange, brown or purple. Green peppers are usually sharper flavored, more plentiful and less expensive than peppers of other colors. They are immature and do not ripen once picked. Red bell peppers are simply a more mature (and sweeter) stage of green bell peppers. The other colors are separate varieties of peppers.
Refrigerate the peppers as soon as you get them home, storing them loosely in a perforated plastic bag. Green peppers keep for at least 1 week; use red, yellow orange and purple peppers within 5 or 6 days.
Cut the pepper in half at the equator or lengthwise. Using your hands or a knife, remove the stem. Then trim away the seeds and white membranes, and cut the pepper to the desired size and shape.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Companion (Time-Life Books, 2000).