Seeing a lovely crop of red peppers in the garden is a heavenly experience for spicy food lovers and serious gardeners. But how do you know when to pick red peppers?
I get it; everyone wants to harvest red peppers at the right time. Of course, it’s not enjoyable to consume overripe or under-ripe peppers.
Peppers are often ready for harvest 60 to 150 days after planting, depending on the variety. You can also usually pick them up during the summer and early fall. But the appearance or color is the most obvious indication.
What are the Signs that Red Peppers are Ready for Harvest?
Knowing when peppers are ripe is critical to enjoying your desired color, flavor, and appearance. Different pepper varieties do not mature the same way. Also, some ripe peppers have different colors than others.
Sweet peppers can mature around 60 to 90 days, while the maturity of hot peppers is 90 to 150 days. You can pick peppers of any color once they reach their maturity stage. For example, you can harvest a red bell pepper or Chimayo during the red stage. It is also ideal to collect them when they are the size you want and they are firm.
Here are some signs that will help you know when to pick red peppers:
In most cases, peppers start green. They change into the color they are supposed to when they ripen. For instance, bell peppers are initially green. If you want the red variety, wait until they are ripe and turn red.
When picking red peppers, you also need to consider the size. They will reach a certain size once they are mature and ready for harvest.
For example, you can say that red bell peppers are ready to harvest when they are full in size, approximately 3.5 to 4 inches.
Peppers like jalapenos develop corking, thin tan lines on the skin. It looks like a little stretch makes and helps tell whether peppers are ripe and ready to harvest.
Tip: When growing peppers, you may encounter the term “days to maturity.” This term is the amount of time fruit is expected to ripen after planting outside. You have to take note of your pepper’s transplant date. Then, count over 60 days out to determine the first month of harvest.
Some seed packets contain pepper’s harvesting information. You can find seed packets containing the pepper’s color, size, and days to maturity.
Please remember that harvest times may vary depending on the pepper’s variety.
Easy Tips for Harvesting Red Peppers
I discovered something interesting about peppers. I realized that more fruits grew on the plants when I picked more peppers. In short, if you keep picking more peppers when they are firm and ripe, you can grow more.
Although harvesting red peppers are not as difficult as most people think, you still need to be careful. Remember that tugging the branches can break them since they are delicate.
When harvesting your red peppers, never pull them from the plants by hand. I recommend using a pair of sharp clippers to cut the pods, preventing any damage to the plant.
Do not forget to wear gloves so that capsaicin oil or pepper juice will not get on your skin. Beware that these oils cause skin irritation. You may touch your eyes or face if you harvest peppers with bare hands. You can be seriously hurt when these oils get on your skin or eyes.
Cutting the stems close to the plants is also advisable. You also have to leave a short stem stub on the pod. The remaining stems allow you to string up the peppers and hang them dry. After picking red peppers, wash your hands immediately.
What if you have picked peppers a little early but want them red? If you harvested your peppers while still green but have already hit the maturity stage, just leave them on your counter. They will ripen after 1 to 2 days.
What are the Different Ways to Store Red Peppers?
Congratulations! You have successfully harvested red peppers. Now, you have peppers you can use when making pepper jellies, chili powder, hot sauces, stews, or any dishes that require a mix of sweetness and zing.
Pepper plants usually produce too many fruits. If you cannot consume all your fresh peppers in a few days, there are several ways to save for later.
One way to prolong the life of your freshly picked red peppers is by hanging them out to try. You can enjoy red peppers for a long time. Since they contain a lot of water, you have to dehydrate them. Don’t worry; the process is very quick.
Hot sun, warm nights, and dry air with a few precipitations are ideal conditions to dry red peppers. With bright sunlight and low moisture, your peppers may dry in less than a week. You can dry peppers in the sun if you live in areas with high humidity and uneven sunlight. However, you must bring them indoors if it rains or at night.
Note: Peppers tend to mold or rot if they become damp or get wet during the drying process.
Do you prefer refrigerating your red peppers or over-drying them out? If so, the process is also simple.
You do not need to wash the pepper pods after picking them. However, you brush any dirt. Washing peppers is not recommended because water can cause rotting.
If you refrigerate your red peppers, you can enjoy them for 2 to 3 weeks. The ideal refrigeration temperature is between 40° to 45°F.
Freezing is another way to preserve red peppers. Now, you have to decide what form you want to consume.
For instance, do you plan to make stuffed peppers? Then, halve them before freezing. After deciding whether to keep them whole or slice them, get a plastic bag and put the peppers inside. Make sure no air is inside the bag before closing it.
Finally, place the bag in the freeze. You can keep your peppers in your freezer for months.
Sliced, pickled red peppers do not only add color to your dishes but also extra zing. Here are the ingredients you need to make pickled red peppers:
- 2 medium red peppers (julienned)
- 1 large red onion (thinly sliced)
- 1 cup of cider vinegar
- 1 cup of sugar
- 2 teaspoons of pickling spices
- ½ teaspoon of celery seed
- 1/3 cup of water
Below are the easy steps for delicious, crisp pickled red peppers:
- Mix red peppers and onion in a large bowl.
- Put celery seed and pickled spices on a cheesecloth’s double thickness.
- Gather cloth corners to enclose the seasonings and tie them securely using a string.
- Combine water, vinegar, sugar, and spice bag in a small saucepan.
- Bring to a boil for approximately 1 minute.
- Transfer the spice bag to the red pepper mixture and pour the vinegar mixture over it.
- Let it cool and refrigerate it for 24 hours.
- Stir the mixture occasionally.
- Remove the spice bag.
- Transfer the mixture to jars and cover them tightly.
You can refrigerate your pickled red peppers for up to a month.