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I only recently moved to an area (Northeast Ohio) where banana peppers are a common topping on pizza and sandwiches, and have discovered I quite like them. When used as a topping, if I were to grow them in my garden next summer, what preparations would I have to do before putting them on a sandwich to get the same flavor? My suspicion is that they are pickled -- is that true?

In addition, I enjoy them because they are relatively mild. Is this natural or does something have to be done to make them milder?

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Most commercial banana peppers are pickled, however they are quite good on things unpickled (they taste like peppers). How hot they are depends on cultivar and also perhaps on pollination (Gardening & Landscaping might be helpful with more specifics on this). I've grown some that are very mild and have been given some that are very hot. –  wax eagle Sep 19 '12 at 17:49
    
@waxeagle Your comment seems to pretty much address everything the OP asked - perhaps make it an answer? –  Jefromi Sep 19 '12 at 17:58
    
@waxeagle Indeed, do make that an answer! By "taste like peppers" do you mean bell peppers or more like jalapenos? I can't eat most spicy peppers, I have too low a tolerance for capsicum so it tastes like pain and burning instead of veggie. –  Yamikuronue Sep 19 '12 at 18:19
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@Yamikuronue definitely ask your gardening supplier (or do some research) to help you find a milder cultivar (and also look into things like soil chemistry, moisture and other things that will affect capsicum production in peppers) if you're going to grow your own. –  wax eagle Sep 20 '12 at 18:59
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Most Comercial banana peppers are indeed pickled. This is relatively easy to do yourself or you can eat them fresh.

Eaten fresh their taste varies depending on the capsaicin present but the vary from a bell pepper flavor to a flavor similar to a jalapeno. The amount of capsaicin varies widely between cultivars so ask your plant/seed vendor to inform you of the variables that affect heat (alternatively you can ask on gardening and we'll do our best to help you grow them).

If you prefer the pickled flavor but want to make them yourself canning them is pretty trivial (I've done it, so it has to be pretty easy). I used a hot water bath canning method that involved a weak vinegar solution and some garlic following normal hot water canning procedures (I can't dig up the exact recipe at the moment, but any canned pepper recipe should do). I had enough for about a dozen pint size jars so I needed to put them up, if you only have enough to last you a few weeks it would be worth looking into a refrigerator pickle recipe as mentioned in the comments (or freezing and pickling as you want to eat them, although I'm unsure of the results this would give).

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And if the OP plans to eat them all within a few weeks, fridge pickles are incredibly easy and require no knowledge of hot water bath canning. –  lemontwist Sep 19 '12 at 18:59
    
A short description of the pickling process would be a great addition –  nico Sep 19 '12 at 19:01
    
@lemontwist good point, added refrigerator pickles as an option –  wax eagle Sep 19 '12 at 19:05
    
@nico added a bit about the canning process I used). –  wax eagle Sep 19 '12 at 19:05
    
@wax eagle: great, thanks! –  nico Sep 19 '12 at 19:09
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