Wondering when to pick your red bell peppers for peak sweetness and texture? The optimal time is 70-90 days after the peppers first appear, when the skin fully turns red and the peppers feel firm and crisp. Picking too early means less flavor and color. Waiting too long leads to mushiness.
Getting the timing right ensures your red bell peppers reach their full delicious potential!
In this article, I’ll share tips on identifying ripeness, growing your own red bell peppers, harvesting perfectly, and storing to enjoy their goodness for months after picking. Let’s dive in!
Why Grow Red Bell Peppers?
First up, what’s so special about red bell peppers anyway? These sweet, crunchy peppers:
- Have a mild, slightly sweet flavor perfect for stuffing
- Add vibrant color to salads, fajitas, pizza and more
- Contain antioxidants like vitamin C and beta carotene
Compared to unripe green peppers, fully ripe red bell peppers have the most concentrated sweet taste and nutrition.
Other fun fact: all bell peppers start green! As they ripen, they turn yellow, orange, then finally red. Each color has its perks, but I love the candy-like flavor of deep red bells.
When Do Red Bell Peppers Ripen?
Now for the good stuff – when are your red bell peppers ripe and ready for picking?
It takes 70-90 days from when peppers first appear until full red ripeness.
Look for these signs your red bell peppers are ready to harvest:
Pepper Skin Turns Deep Red
Ripe red bell peppers will transition from green to a rich, vibrant red. Look for completely red skin without many streaks of yellow or orange.
Peppers Feel Firm and Solid
Give those beauties a gentle squeeze. Red bell peppers should feel very firm and crisp when ripe, not squishy.
Peppers Reach Ideal Size
Fully ripe red bell peppers are usually about 4-5 inches long. Let them grow to their mature size before picking.
Pepper Walls Thicken
Mature red bell pepper walls will thicken to about 1/4 – 1/2 inch. Immature peppers have thinner flesh.
Stems Dry Out
When ripe, the stem connecting to the pepper plant will look dry and shriveled.
Growing Your Own Red Bell Peppers
For the freshest, tastiest red bell peppers, I highly recommend growing your own!
Here are some tips:
- Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last spring frost.
- Transplant seedlings outside after danger of frost passes.
- Space plants 18-24 inches apart in full sun.
- Amend soil with compost or fertilizer.
- Water plants 1-2 inches per week.
Growing your own lets you pick peppers at perfect ripeness!
Harvesting Red Bell Peppers like a Pro
When red bell peppers reach peak ripeness, it’s go time! Follow these tips for harvesting:
- Use clean, sharp scissors or shears to clip peppers off at the stem.
- Harvest in the morning when peppers are most crisp.
- Gently twist off peppers to avoid damaging plants.
- Leave about an inch of stem attached to prevent rotting.
- Handle peppers gently to avoid bruises and cuts.
Why Aren’t My Bell Peppers Turning Red?
You’ve been patiently waiting for your green bell peppers to ripen into red beauties. But the skin remains stubbornly green. What gives?
Here are some common reasons your bell peppers aren’t turning red:
Weather Too Cool
Bell peppers need hot temps of 80-90°F to fully ripen. Cool weather can stall color change. Move pots to warmer areas.
Not Enough Time
It takes 70+ days for peppers to turn from green to red. Be patient and allow more time to ripen.
Peppers need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Increase sunlight exposure to encourage reddening.
Too much moisture prevents ripening. Let soil dry between waterings.
Peppers need nutrients like phosphorus and calcium to ripen. Fertilize plants with a balanced fertilizer.
Heavy Crop Load
Too many peppers on one plant divides resources and slows ripening. Pick some greens to allow remaining to redden.
Stress from pests, disease, overcrowding etc. can inhibit ripening. Control stresses and properly care for plants.
So be patient, optimize growing conditions, and your green peppers should eventually turn red! Timing and care is everything.
Storing Peppers for Months of Enjoyment
With proper storage, freshly harvested red bell peppers will retain their texture and flavor:
- Store unwashed peppers loose in the fridge crisper for 2-3 weeks.
- Freeze diced peppers in airtight bags for 6-8 months.
- Pickle peppers to enjoy for up to 1 year.
- Dehydrate and grind into bell pepper powder.
Now you can delight in garden-fresh red bells even during the winter!
Let’s Get Growing Those Tasty Red Peppers
I don’t know about you, but my mouth is watering just thinking about harvesting bountiful red bell peppers.
Use this guide to start growing your own peppers and pick them at peak ripeness.
- Begin growing peppers indoors about 2 months before your last spring frost.
- Transplant outdoors when temps are consistently above 60°F.
- Water and fertilize plants regularly.
- Harvest when peppers turn completely red and reach mature size.
- Store properly to enjoy peppers for months past season’s end.
Now who wants to join my stuffed red bell pepper dinner party?