Habanero is among the hottest peppers you should try if you’re a spicy food lover. You can grow it in your garden. Growing habanero requires warm temperatures, bright sun, and well-drained soil.
If you’re planning to grow them, it is essential to know when to pick habanero. Remember that increasing the pepper needs a long growing season, so you must be patient.
I usually pick my habanero peppers when they turn red. I also suggest you remove the fruit before cool temperatures come in the fall.
When is the best time to harvest your habanero?
Growing habanero peppers is rewarding. It can provide you with delicious peppers perfect for adding to any dish. However, to make the best of it, you should know when to pick habanero.
Your habanero peppers are ready to be picked if the color change when they become fully ripe. Remember that unripe peppers are green, and the mature pods can be red, orange, or another color.
Another indicator that your habaneros are ready for harvest is their age. Usually, the pepper can ripen around 90 to 120 days after transplanting outdoors. Meanwhile, the timing can also depend on the climate and plant care.
From seed, the whole process can take about 120 to 180 days. Hotter varieties of the pepper may take longer to ripen. If you want to allow them to mature, you should leave the pepper on the plant for longer.
Corking is another sign that your peppers are ready for picking. If the habanero grows faster, there may be superficial scarring. It means that your peppers are close to maturity.
How will you know if your habaneros are ripe?
Your habanero peppers are ripe if they are about 2 inches long and have an emerald green color. The chilies can fully mature if it turns from green to red or orange.
Your habanero will be emerald green after 75 days of planting. You can pick it up after 2.5 months. It is edible and comes with a piquant, fresh taste. You can serve your green habanero in a salsa Verde with lime juice.
Note that the heat of green habaneros is at its mildest. You should be patient if you want a hotter version.
Red habanero peppers can reach their full red color after 4 months of transplanting. It is the variety that has the most potent heat. You can also use it similarly for orange or yellow habaneros. Red habanero peppers are perfect for a chili oil that offers powerful spicy heat and a red hue.
If you leave green habanero on the plant, it can change color after 3.5 to 4 months. The orange variety can turn yellow and then orange when it becomes ripe. The orange ones are slightly milder compared to the red ones. It is ideal for mild hot curries and chutneys.
How to pick your habaneros?
You can use garden clippers or a knife to avoid damaging your plant when picking your habaneros. You should also protect your hands while harvesting habanero peppers. The oils of the pepper may irritate sensitive skin. You should wash your hands before you touch your eyes or face to avoid burning. Make sure to pick the peppers when they are dry to prevent disease spreading.
There are other methods of picking habaneros, and I will teach you about them.
You can cut off the plant with a sharp and sanitized pair of scissors. The peppers should be supported as you use the scissors to cut the stem off the branch. It is better to cut the peppers when they are dry to avoid spreading the disease. You can hold or cup the pepper in one hand to prevent it from falling.
You can pluck the peppers safely by supporting the branch with your hand as your other hand gently pulls the pepper upwards. It is best to avoid the branches from snapping. Using your hand, you can pull the habaneros by the base of the plant.
Pinching with nails
This method can be hazardous. Even though it is a possible method of harvesting peppers, I don’t suggest it. With this method, there’s a tendency that the capsaicin may enter the gap under your fingernail and experience burning pain.
Can you pick green habaneros?
Usually, some pick habaneros when they turn red for the best flavor. But you can also harvest them when they’re still green. It is safe to eat, but expect that it’s not as spicy as the ripe habanero. If frost is coming, you can harvest your pepper even when they are green. It is still tasty.
How long do the harvested habaneros last?
After harvesting your habaneros, you should refrigerate them. If they are refrigerated, they can last for one or two weeks. However, there are some cases where it may only last for a few days. It can become mushy, and the skin begins to wrinkle if they turn bad or rot.
Can habanero peppers be frozen?
You can freeze your habaneros, but remember that they will not return to their original state as you take them out. Even though it still has its crisp texture, it may be lost a bit as you remove it from your freezer. Frozen habaneros may last a year if properly stored.
What will happen if you harvest your habaneros too late or too early?
There is nothing wrong with picking your habanero peppers too early or too late. If you pick your peppers too early, expect that they have a less spicy flavor. On the other hand, if you pick them too late, they can turn red and have a hotter taste. It depends on your tolerance.
How can you use your harvested habaneros?
Aside from being a delicious addition to your favorite meals, you can also use it for other purposes. You can use it for:
- Chili paste
- Habanero hot sauce
- Mango habanero salsa
- Pickled peppers
How to save seeds from habanero peppers?
If you wish to grow habanero plants, you can save seeds from your harvested habanero. You can apply the following tips to save the seeds.
Pick the ripe peppers
You should only save seeds from the fully mature habaneros. So you can ensure that the seeds are fully developed and have a high chance of germinating.
Thoroughly dry the seeds
You should let the seeds dehydrate for about 5 days at room temperature. It can take longer to reach enough dryness if it is humid.
Pick the seeds promptly
After you harvest your habaneros, you should quickly harvest their seeds. So, you can prevent the seeds from germinating within the peppers.
Keep with desiccant
You should store your habanero seeds with desiccant. It can eliminate the moisture from the seed container. With this, you can ensure that they will remain dry during storage.
Will habaneros continue to produce?
Do you want to know if the habanero will continue to produce after harvesting? Keep reading. Habanero peppers are perennial. So, it means they will continue producing for years. You should keep them in ideal growing conditions. It can produce even the temperature drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.