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A fresh take on pimento cheese

Pimento cheese made from fresh roasted green peppers, served with my homemade borscht

I was reflecting today on the history of pimento cheese, which, since my earliest childhood, has been a Southern American favorite. It seemed oddly Mediterranean, because nobody around here has ever grown pimiento peppers, nor does anybody can peppers, as far as I know. Luckily, the story of the history of pimento cheese has already been written, and I came across this article from Southern Living: You Will Not Believe the History of Pimento Cheese.

It turns out that my speculation was right. According to the article, it was back in the 1870s that Spain started sending canned red peppers to the United States. America supplied the cheese. Pimento cheese was born.

When I was a young’un, there was often a little glass jar of pimento peppers in my mother’s cabinets for making pimento cheese. If you make it at home (I’m thinking that nobody ever does anymore), the ingredients would be cream cheese, some cheddar, and some mayonnaise. All groceries stores here have it, though, in plastic tubs. If you read the ingredients, you’ll faint, because store-bought pimento cheese is usually made from cheap, artificial ingredients such as “cheese food.”

Last time I was at Trader Joe’s, I bought too much Wisconsin cheddar, and I’ve been hard pressed to use it all. Pimento cheese seemed like a good idea. Cream cheese is not something I normally buy. But Greek yogurt was a good substitute. And I never run out of mayonnaise.

You could use any kind of pepper, red or green, even mildly hot ones, if you like the idea. I roasted a sweet green pepper on the grill. Let it cool, then peel it and chop it. I marinated my green pepper for an hour or so in some of the marinade from a jar of marinated artichoke hearts. Stir the chopped peppers into the grated cheddar, plus the cream cheese (or Greek yogurt) and a dollop of mayonnaise.

Update: A vintage can of tinned pimentos that was for sale on eBay.


  1. Henry wrote:

    As a boy, I loved Pimento Cheese. I do not know if my grandmother made it or it was store bought. This was in 1945-55, so it was probably real .

    Canned pimentos from Spain in what year?

    Thursday, October 24, 2019 at 4:52 pm | Permalink
  2. daltoni wrote:

    I feel sure it was real in the 1940s. According to Wikipedia, the peppers from Spain started arriving in the 1870s. When I was a young’un, I recall that the pimentos were always in small glass jars. But let me see if I can post a photo here.

    Thursday, October 24, 2019 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

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