A pimiento, pimento, or cherry pepper is a variety of large, red, heart-shaped chili pepper (Capsicum annuum) that measures 3 to 4 in (7 to 10 cm) long and 2 to 3 in (5 to 7 cm) wide (medium, elongate). The flesh of the pimiento is sweet, succulent, and more aromatic than that of the red bell pepper. Some varieties of the pimiento type are hot, including the 'Floral Gem' and 'Santa Fe Grande' varieties. Pimiento is a Spanish loanword. Pimento or pimentão are Portuguese words for "bell pepper", while pimenta refers to peppercorns and chili peppers are known as "piri piri" or malagueta. It is typically used fresh or pickled. The pimento has one of the lowest Scoville scale ratings of any chili pepper.
"Sweet" (i.e., neither sour nor savory) pimiento peppers are also the familiar red stuffing found in prepared, Spanish, green olives. Originally, the pimiento was hand-cut into tiny pieces, then hand-stuffed into each olive to balance out the olive's otherwise strong, salty flavor. Despite the popularity of the combination, this production method was very costly and time-intensive. In the industrial era, the cut pimiento was shot (by a hydraulic pump) into one end of each olive, simultaneously inserting the pimento in the center while ejecting the pit (out the other end).
More recently, for ease of production, pimientos are often puréed then formed into tiny strips, with the help of a natural gum (such as sodium alginate or guar gum). This allows olive stuffing to be mechanized, speeding the process and lowering production costs. However, guar (an annual legume mostly produced in India) may inadvertently make the olives less accessible to consumers with peanut allergies and legume allergies, as those individuals may have a reaction to the guar. This leaves sodium alginate as a more universal choice.
Pimientos are commonly used for making pimento cheese, and according to Paula Deen of the Food Network, are also used in making "black-eyed pea salsa, "...the caviar of the South" in the Southern United States and the Philippines. It is also used for making pimento loaf, a type of processed sandwich meat.
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