Let's talk about peppers.
Not the most controversial of plants, you might think. But a recent viral thread about one blogger's discovery regarding the Capsicum genus has set social media abuzz – as people learned there's far more to the stout little berry – yes, berry – than you might have realized.
It all started a few days ago, when Twitter user Amy, a style and lifestyle blogger, posted about her recent peppery revelation.
It turns out this is... sort of true. Certainly, if left unharvested, green peppers can turn yellow or red as they mature. They're not different types of pepper – just different stages of ripeness.
The changes in color are due to the decomposition of certain chemicals inside the plant as it matures. The pepper starts off green due to the presence of green chlorophyll pigments, which are crucial for photosynthesis. But as it ripens, these break down into various different pigments, which can turn the pepper anything from yellow, to a vibrant orange, to red, and even colors like white or purple.
These chemical changes are also responsible for the different tastes and aromas of different colors of pepper. Green peppers contain a particular chemical compound with the catchy name of 2-methoxy-3-isobutylpyrazine – also known, appropriately, as "bell pepper pyrazine". This is one of the most odor-intense compounds on Earth, detectable by the human nose at a rate of parts per billion, and it's what gives green peppers their distinctive smell. As the pepper ripens, the concentrations of this and other compounds decrease, while levels of more fruity-smelling compounds rise to give a sweeter aroma.