How To Pick A Pepper
The best way to check whether the pepper is ready to pick or not is to observe its color. You can pick the peppers off the plant by plucking them off or by using garden shears. You can use hand pruners, scissors, or a sharp knife to remove the pepper from the plant.
If, for whatever reason, the chili is picked before ripeness, you may want to keep it in the sunroom until bright green and fully grown. Leave those peppers where they can get some sun, such as on the windowsill, where the peppers will begin to turn a color within days. If you pick up peppers and there is a bit of hot weather coming up, they will regrow and make more pods as time goes on.
Harvested peppers that are starting to turn a shade of red continue to mature if kept at room temperature for three days. Allowing peppers to stay on the plants and continue to ripen, changing from yellow, orange, and red, prior to picking the peppers fruit, will produce sweet peppers. You may choose to continue picking the green fruit on one of the plants in order to encourage increased production of peppers from that plant.
The key is to let 50% or so of your crops mature on the plants, and harvest from the others so your pepper plants will keep going. Overall, your goal with chili picking is to take out your peppers while doing as little damage as possible to your plants. You generally have to make the choice of picking lots of green peppers, or few orange and/or red ones.
This depends on where you live, you may be able to pick your peppers from your greenhouse, or from tropical areas, all year long. Sweet peppers, like bell peppers, are typically harvested while the fruits are still green, but fully grown. The unique aspect of picking sweet peppers, like bell peppers, is that harvesting times vary depending on personal preferences of the peppers flavor and color. The harvest time of bell peppers, which are a lot hotter varieties of peppers, such as jalapenos, is usually indicated when the fruits are deep, dark green.
If the mature color of your planted pepper varieties is red, orange, yellow, or purple, patience is required. If you planted a non-green variety, you will want to wait for the pepper to develop its intended color. You also will want to keep in mind which color of chili peppers you are growing are going to ripe, so that you are ready to take your chilies off your plants. You will also want to be sure to pick your peppers when the plants are drying out, so that you do not accidentally spread diseases.
If you begin your seeds indoors, your plants will produce more peppers, but they might take a little longer to mature as well. Peppers sprout and grow best when the soil temperature is above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. In most regions in the U.S., peppers should be started indoors, and then replanted outside as the weather warms.
|Pepper||Days to Mature|
|Sweet Peppers||60 -90 days|
|Spicy Peppers||Around 90 or 150 days|
If a weather forecast calls for temperatures to drop below freezing, you will want to harvest your peppers before this happens. I would recommend picking each pepper either before there is a chance of frost, or before the temperature gets up around 35 degrees overnight. Do not store peppers in your fridge, because they will not keep very well in cooler temperatures and can get mildewy or mushy.
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Growing peppers can be very exciting, but keep in mind that peppers eventually drop from your plants if you let them sit for too long, increasing your chances of rot. The good news, though, is that the peppers can be picked at any time and eaten like delicious green bell peppers. Peppers should be checked every few days after 3-5 days, and when the skin has turned from green to brown, then they are ready for eating. You can harvest green bell peppers at just about any stage, but waiting until they are about 3-4 inches long is usually best.
Picking them when small will redirect the plants energy toward producing more flowers, meaning more peppers. We also like to pinch the first few blooms off chili seedlings, ensuring that they are investing more energy in growth, to make them produce more pods later. Place pepper seedlings into a garden with their buds on the soilline, just like they were before being replanted.
Use one hand to hold the plants stalks in place, then pull pepper stalks gently upwards away from the plant. Gently grab onto the branch, using your free hand bend the pepper upwards, allowing it to pull away from its stem. Make sure that there is a little stem stub left over from the pepper pod itself, so you can use the remaining stem to prop up the peppers while hanging them for drying.
Because each bell pepper has large stalks, we prefer using a sharp pair of scissors to cut peppers off of plants. The few minutes extra labor to cut off the stem as you pull off a pepper is worth it so that we do not have to Deadhead plants later on once all of those flowers begin dying and dropping. Peppers generally take time to mature anyway, so waiting for and picking the red-colored ones may prove a struggle for patience.
The general rule for ripening of sweet peppers is 60-90 days, and spicy peppers may mature around 90 days, up to 150 days. Under ideal conditions, most pepper varieties may start producing mature, ready-to-eat peppers in 90-150+ days.
If you are growing one of the super hot varieties, such as Ghost Peppers or any Habanero, then it will take even longer for any super hot variety to be productive. Many varieties will come out of their shells gladly once ripe, but others might take some extra work. Peppers grown from hybrids will not be quite as sturdy, and can bear a lot of differences from their parent plants.
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Mild and spicy bell peppers may be harvested when full-sized and completely colored, or may be harvested once reaching a usable size. Hot peppers should be picked when they have reached maturity according to their seed packets or seedling tags. Once pepper plants begin producing peppers close to the height that should occur when fully grown — harvest at least half of them for consumption as green bell peppers.
Once the pepper plant has been harvested, it is done for the season in most areas, with plants dying down during late fall. When chile is its mature color, leave it on the plant a few days later so that seeds will have the best chance to become viable. A chili taken off a plant while green will mature in about 6 days if placed into a paper bag with an apple, banana, or another fruit that gives off ethylene when it is ripe. If you are going to can or preserve your peppers, the quicker you can process them after picking, the better.
Do you pick peppers when green or red?
As long as they are fully grown and green, bell peppers can be harvested. The color of fully ripened bell peppers changes and often tastes sweeter and has a little softer texture. In contrast, sweet peppers can be picked once the green fruit reaches the mature size described on the label.
What does a good red pepper look like?
A fresh pepper should have smooth skin that reflects some light to give it an iridescent, sparkling look. Chime peppers that are brand-new are firm, shiny, and shining. When they’re small, they have green and yellow coloration. You may feel them with your hands to see if they’re spoilt or rotten.
Do peppers get hotter after picking?
When mature, most spicy peppers turn red, but you can also consume them raw. The heat of spicy peppers increases with age. Peppers may be consumed at almost any stage of development, but if you want to choose the spiciest ones possible, wait until they are red before harvesting.