Serrano peppers undoubtedly add a kick to my favorite salsas and pickling mixtures. They are also easy to grow. But, if you are interested in developing them, you may ask, when to pick serrano peppers?
My hot sauces, pico de gallos, and spicy salsas are not complete without serrano peppers. They are also a perfect ingredient for making delicious pickles.
There are several ways to tell if serrano peppers are ready for harvest. These peppers are usually ready for harvest 90 days after planting, when they are 2 to 4 inches long and ½ inch wide, have tan vertical stripes on the skins, or turn red.
What are the Different Types of Serrano Peppers?
Before I reveal when to pick serrano peppers, let us first talk about their different types.
Serrano peppers are not limited to one size or color. You can encounter serrano peppers in varying colors and sizes. Each type comes with different heat, flavor, and physical appearance.
Serrano purple peppers are famous for their unique colors. Their color turns from green to purple and then red once they ripen. They are stouter than other peppers and can grow up to 3 inches long and 1 inch wide.
Hidalgo peppers usually grow 2 ½ inches long and ½ inches wide. This makes them a narrower serrano pepper variety. They turn bright, fiery red when ripened. They also provide a medium-thick flesh, making them perfect for making salsas.
Hot Rod Peppers
Hot rod peppers are initially dark green in color. These longer serrano peppers typically grow up to 4 inches long and ½ inch wide. They also have green leaves and stems.
What are the Signs that Serrano Peppers are Ready for Harvest?
Serrano peppers are long and thin. They look like the smaller version of jalapeno peppers. They change color as they ripen.
These peppers originated in the mountainous regions of Hidalgo and Puebla and are commonly grown in Mexico. They can grow up to 5 ft tall and produce as many as 50 peppers. Depending on the size, they have a fresh, bright kick from medium to medium-hot
Serrano peppers come with 10,000 to 23,000 Scoville heat units. This means they are hotter than paprika and Anaheim peppers but not as spicy as ghost peppers and habaneros.
Here are some signs you can consider to know whether or not serrano peppers are ready for harvest:
Sign #1: Size
When serrano peppers become 2 to 4 inches long and ½ inch wide, they become close to ripeness. This also indicates they are mature and ready for harvest.
In some cases, I measure the size of the plants. Mature serrano peppers are usually around 3 to 4 feet. But they can also be over 5 feet tall. If you see that these plants are already tall and the peppers are 2 to 4 inches long, get ready to harvest.
Sign #2: Color
Initially, serrano peppers are green. This characteristic makes it a bit tricky for beginners to know if the peppers are ready or not for harvest.
As they mature, their color noticeably changes. If you want green serranos, pick them before the skin becomes red. However, if you’re going to use red serranos in your dishes, harvest them once their skins develop redness.
Sign #3: Time
Serrano peppers are among the fastest-growing peppers, so most gardeners prefer growing them. They are often ready for harvest 90 days or 3 months after planting.
The earliest time I pick my serrano peppers is about 60 days after planting while they are still green. However, if I want to consume red and full ripened peppers, I pick them after 80 to 90 days. Harvesting them after this period can result in spoilage.
If you still have the seed packet, check it to see the peppers’ maturity rate. This is particularly critical if you grow yellow serranos and other unique varieties.
Sign #4: Corking
Tan vertical lines on the skins, also known as corking, are another sign of maturity or ripeness. So, you can harvest your peppers once you see those lines.
This scarring on the skin results from serrano peppers growing faster than the skin. Don’t worry; it does not affect the peppers’ quality and taste. It is a good indicator that the peppers are nearing ripeness or already ripe.
Sign #5: Thickness
Checking the peppers’ skin and wall thickness helps decide if they are ready for harvest.
All you need to do is squeeze the pepper between two fingers using light pressure. Does it feel too thin? Then, wait another few days before harvesting them.
Moreover, if they are ready for harvest, they should not feel mushy in texture but firm.
How to Harvest Serrano Peppers
As mentioned above, a plant can produce up to 50 peppers. So, be ready to exert some time and energy.
Although you can harvest these peppers by plucking, I still prefer cutting them off using garden shears for faster harvesting.
Harvesting serrano peppers during rainy days is not recommended because the plants may catch diseases from infected water splashes, like the tobacco mosaic virus. Do not forget to inspect for any damage or insects while harvesting.
Here are easy steps to harvest serrano peppers:
- Get a clean pair of scissors or shears.
- Wear gloves to protect the fingers from pepper juice.
- Hold the peppers to prevent them from falling to the ground.
- Cut the stems right against the branch base.
- Repeat the process for each pepper.
How to Store Fresh Serrano Peppers
Are you done harvesting your serrano peppers? Here are easy ways to store them:
First, thoroughly washed your serrano peppers and let them dry. Making them dry helps prevent mushy texture or rotting. Then, put them in a paper bag or sealed plastic and store them inside the refrigerator.
This storage method is the easiest way to store the peppers, requiring less effort. You can use these peppers for 1 to 2 weeks while they still have intense flavors.
One of the best things about serrano peppers is that they last up to a year. It is possible by placing them in the freezer. You can cut or keep your peppers whole. If you want to cut them, be sure to make manageable slices. Then, place uncut or pepper slices in a freezer bag.
You can use a vacuum sealer to suck the air out of the bag. Alternatively, you can use a straw. Next, seal it shut.
Pickling can make serrano peppers last up to 6 months. Here are the ingredients when pickling serrano peppers:
- 1 lb of sliced serrano peppers
- 2 to 5 sliced garlic cloves
- 1 ¼ cup of brown or white sugar
- 1 ¼ cup of white distilled vinegar
- ½ cup of water
Don’t worry; the process is so easy. Just follow the steps below:
- Pour the sugar and the vinegar into a clean 1-quart jar.
- Tightly screw the lid and shake the jar until the sugar is entirely dissolved. You can also stir it for a faster result.
- Pour the serrano pepper sliced into the jar.
- Add the garlic and pour water, leaving at least ½ inch space.
- Put the lid back and shake well.
- Allow the peppers to sit in the brine to achieve a stronger flavor.
- Store in the fridge.