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Harvesting Peppers: When to Pick Peppers and How to Harvest Peppers

by Christine Halvorsen September 17, 2020 4 min read

Harvesting Peppers: When to Pick Peppers and How to Harvest Peppers

Congratulations! You got through all stages of growing your peppers, and you can see pods growing on your plants. You went from planning your garden, germinating pepper seeds, transplanting tiny pepper plants, pruning them, and now you’re getting ready for the most exciting part…harvesting! You finally have the chance to taste your peppers, and start prepping (if you’re out of ideas on what to make, we suggest looking into our recipes).

But we commonly get asked “how to harvest peppers,” “when is the right time to start harvesting peppers,” or “how do you know when peppers are ready to pick?” We get it, you want to have peppers harvested at the right time so you can enjoy those ripe, delicious chilis! We provided information that explains the harvesting process and how to determine the best time to start picking peppers. We prepared a video below that demonstrates how to pick peppers:

FOLLOW THESE 5 SIMPLE STEPS ON HOW TO HARVEST PEPPERS

  • Get a nice pair of clean, sharp clippers.
  • (OPTIONAL): Wear a pair of gloves to protect your hands.
  • Examine the pepper to make sure it is ripe.
  • Cut the stem close to the plant.
  • Store your peppers.

Some of the peppers we got to shoot and harvest that day of the video:Carolina Reaper,Jamaican Yellow Mushroom,Big Sun Habanero,Yellow Scotch Bonnet,Cheiro Roxa,White Devil’s Tongue, andNeyde Black Ghost.

When to Pick Peppers

Pepper Joe's tips on harvesting, featuring yellow scotch bonnets

Knowing when they are ripe is key to enjoying a full harvest. Although varieties of peppers mature differently and some peppers ripen different colors than others, there are general rules everyone can follow.

The general rule of thumb for maturity of sweet peppers is 60-90 days, and hot peppers can mature around 90 days and up to 150 days. You’ll also want to be informed of what color the pepper you are growing will be ripe, so you are prepared to remove the pepper from the plant. 

Peppers are unique because you can harvest them at any color after they hit the maturity stage. For instance, you can pick a Czech Black pepper during the purple/black stage or when it turns ruby red, and it will still be delicious! Pick the peppers when they are the size and color you want, and make sure they are firm.

Note: The more peppers you pick, the more peppers that will continue growing on your plant. Keep removing the peppers as soon as they are ripe and firm so you can grow more!

Pepper Joe's harvesting tips, featuring Carolina Reaper peppers

Harvesting peppers require some finesse, as delicate branches may break if you tug them. We highly recommend you do not pull peppers from the plant by hand. Instead, grab a pair of clean, sharp clippers to remove the pods. This will help prevent any damage to the plant.

Cut the stem close to the plant. Make sure you have a short stub of stem left on the pepper pod itself so you can use the remaining stem to string up the pepper when hanging to dry. After that, you’ll have peppers that you can start prepping to create hot sauces, chili powder, stews, pepper jelly, or whatever your heart desires!

If you are harvesting hot peppers, you may want to wear gloves to prevent the capsaicin oil from getting on your skin. These oils can irritate skin, and you may touch your face or eyes which can seriously hurt! Wear gloves and wash your hands immediately after picking the pods.

Alternative Method for Ripening Peppers

If you pick a pepper before it’s ripe, don’t worry! It can still ripe even after you pick them. If plucked a little early, leave them on your counter until it is ripe. It can ripen after a day or two!

How to Store Peppers

Pepper Joe's harvesting tips, featuring harvested Carolina Reapers

Pepper plants are producing too many chilis? Want to save some peppers for later? Wondering how to keep peppers fresh? We have a few tips for storing peppers:

  • Hang peppers to dry
  • Refrigerate peppers
  • Freeze peppers

Hang Peppers to Dry

If you hang them out to dry, you will have plenty of fresh peppers for a long time. Peppers are full of water and will dehydrate quickly, and also will have a concentrated smoky flavor. Plus, wouldn’t it be nice to wake up one morning and smell the peppers’ aroma? We wish there was a candle for hot peppers…

Refrigerating Peppers

If you prefer to refrigerate or freeze them instead, remember to not wash the pods after harvesting but brush any dirt off of them. We recommend not washing them because water can speed up the rotting process. Refrigerating peppers can keep up for about 2 to 3 weeks, and is a great way to store them if you plan to use more fresh peppers in that time span. The best temperate for refrigeration is between 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Just don't forget to wash the stored peppers before consuming or cooking with the pepper.

How to Freeze Peppers

We often hear “can you freeze peppers?” The answer is yes! When freezing peppers, it’s best to freeze them in the form you plan on consuming them.  For example, if you want to do stuffed peppers then consider halving them. Next, you place peppers in a plastic bag and let the air out before closing the bag. Place the bag of peppers in the freezer, and you will have fresh peppers for months. Learn 3 easy steps to properly freeze hot peppers.

I Want to Grow Some Hot Peppers

Interested in growing exotic peppers or the hottest peppers in the world? Check out our huge selection of pepper seeds, or our live hot pepper plants if you prefer to grow seedlings instead! We also have new seeds that we add throughout the year but stay updated now because we are adding 100+ new seeds before the end of the year! Sign up for our emails and you’ll always be updated on the newest additions and latest updates.

We also have growing supplies to take your gardening game to the next level.

If you’re interested in trying some spicy food products, look into our delicious hot sauces, savory beef jerky, and super-hot powder.

WE ARE HERE TO HELP YOU GROW PEPPERS. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS THAT YOU MAY HAVE, YOU CAN SHOOT US AN EMAIL AT CUSTOMERSERVICE@PEPPERJOE.COM OR SEND US A MESSAGE ON FACEBOOK. WE LOVE HEARING YOUR STORIES OF GROWING PEPPERS FROM SCRATCH AND ANSWERING ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT GROWING ANY KIND OF PEPPERS

Pepper Joe's, an expert on growing hot peppers

Christine Halvorsen
Christine Halvorsen


2 Responses

PETER PIPER
PETER PIPER

September 18, 2020

Each year i grow my favorite peppers which are Carolina Reapers, Trinidad Scorpions, Naga Vipers, Scotch Bonnets, Serrano and Hot Hungarian Wax. This year i grew Tabasco peppers for my annual fermented hot sauce. I’ve only just begun to harvest them so i can’t wait to try my homemade Tabasco sauce! I love to dehydrate super-hot’s and grind them into flakes. This way you can enjoy your peppers all year long.

Bernie Schunicht
Bernie Schunicht

September 17, 2020

I grow a variety of hot peppers: jalapeno, Serrano, Hungarian, cayenne, long Asian and this year Carolina Reaper with seeds from Joe. When ripe (red) I pick a variety, slit and sun dry them for a couple days then finish them off in a hot air dryer/dehydrator. When crisp I grind them in a spice grinder. sieve through a strainer to collect a “dust” Then final dry the dust is a warm oven before bottling in a spice shaker.Use all winter on most anything, especially my morning fried eggs.

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