Harvesting Peppers

January 22, 2006

Watching for the change in color is the easiest way to determine the ripeness for harvesting peppers. Le-Ann sent in the following question regarding harvesting peppers: “I want to know when I can pick my chillies because they are all green and tasty, but I didn’t know if they are truly ripe?”

“I have two different types of chillies, one is long and it’s almost as if it wants to curl, and the other is jalapeno like but it’s not a jalapeno it’s a very hot chillie.”

Le-Ann, if the peppers are still green, then more than likely they are not ripe and haven’t fully matured. Fortunately, unless you’re saving the seeds to replant it’s perfectly okay to harvest and use the green immature fruits at any time during the growing season.

Ripening PeppersThe change in color is usually the best indicator of the proper time to harvest ripe peppers. I’ve seen a few pepper varieties that matured to a very dark, almost blackish green color. But most pepper varieties display a green color during their immature stages and change to shades of red, yellow, lilac, gold, purple, brown, or white when fully mature.

The peppers change in color is accompanied by a change in flavor. While you can harvest peppers when they are still green, in the case of sweet varieties of peppers, the sweet flavor doesn’t fully develop until the fruits ripen and change color.

Once the peppers have been harvested from the plant the ripening will stop so don’t pick them until they have reached the desired degree of ripeness. Sample your peppers in both their immature and mature stages to decide which state you prefer.

Also bear in mind that allowing the peppers to fully mature on the plant will reduce the production of additional fruits as the plant will recognize that its mission of reproducing seeds has been fulfilled and it can take a break further flowering and fruiting.

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  • Le-Ann

    Thank you very much for your reply.

    I’m from Witbank in Mpumulanga in South Africa!

    Keep Well

  • Carla Bohanan

    I’m growing both seranos and jalapeños. God has blessed with a heavy bounty of peppers, how do I preserve the peppers? Canning, freezing procedures. Thank you for any advice.

  • AH! Interesting that if you leave the pepper too long to mature the plant will take a break. I never knew this. Interesting.

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