How to pick a pepper? (+3 Ways to tell)

In this article, we will answer the question “How to pick a pepper?”, and how to store peppers?

How to pick a pepper?

Use hand pruners, scissors, or a sharp knife to harvest peppers. Make sure the cut is clean and the pepper remains undamaged.  Some of the varieties will fall off quickly once they are fully mature. 

Make sure you wear gloves before the harvest and do not touch anything after the harvesting before washing your hands properly. When picking by hand, place the pepper in one hand and gently twig the stem from the pepper.

When to pick peppers?

The following factors are common to all the peppers and are key indicators of ripening.

  • Changing color
  • Growth stops
  • Softening flesh
  • Easily picked from stem
  • Corking (on some varieties)

When to pick bell peppers

Bell peppers are the most frequently grown variety of peppers. However, It may sometimes be hard to tell If the bell peppers are ripe. Most people like their bell peppers to be harvested while they are green. Other varieties of bell peppers include orange, yellow and purple.

Green bell pepper is still unripe. If you let it mature, It will develop delicious flavors and pronounced sweetness. Ideally, you should wait for the bell peppers to turn red. Red bell peppers are full of Vitamin A. The ideal time to pick bell peppers is when they have changed color and stop growing further in size.

When to pick jalapenos 

Jalapenos are mostly harvested while they are still green. However, fully ripe jalapenos develop a bright red color. Ripe jalapenos have a more sweet and spicy taste plus a softer texture. First, the green jalapenos will turn black, and then they will develop a red hue.

Ideally, the jalapenos should be picked when they turn red and grow no more in their size. However, they can be picked when they are still green and unripe.

When to pick habaneros 

Ideally, habaneros should be picked when they turn bright orange. Some varieties develop red, mustard orange, deep brown, or even light purple color when ripe. Fully ripe habaneros have a floral smell and a pronounced sweetness and hotness.

When to pick cayenne peppers

Cayenne peppers can be described as Long, skinny, red, and spicy. Ideally, cayenne peppers should be picked when they turn bright red and develop corking(in some cases). Immature cayenne peppers will have less sweetness and hotness.

Other FAQs about Pepper which you may be interested in.

Does Black Pepper go bad?

How is pepper made?

How to identify Pepper Plants?

How to store peppers?

Peppers can also be kept in the fridge. Before refrigerating peppers, wash them thoroughly, pat dry them and toss them in a perforated plastic bag. You can buy this bag from the market or make your own by poking 20 holes, using a hole punch or sharp object, in a medium-sized plastic bag.

Peppers can be stored for about 2 weeks If they are kept at a consistent temperature o 55°F or 13°C. The ideal temperature to store peppers is 7°C or below. Too cool temperatures will soften the peppers. They will shrivel and develop water-soaked or mushy areas and eventually begin to rot. 

If the peppers are kept at room temperature for 3 or more days, they will start to change their color due to the ripening process. Peppers with blossom end rot or sunscald should either be discarded or consumed immediately because they will start to decay If stored.

How to tell If the peppers are ripe?

Peppers change color

Peppers change color during ripening and It is a very reliable way to tell If and when the peppers are ripe. For example, the green color of the bell peppers will develop into a deep red color during ripening.  

Peppers that have not yet matured completely can be consumed but they would have a different flavor profile. Peppers picked at an earlier stage of growth will usually taste less sweet and more bitter. Similarly, hot varieties become more spicy and hot as they mature.

Time since planting 

Ideally, most of the pepper varieties will be ripe within 90-150+ days after planting. Superhot varieties like ghost pepper will take longer than bell peppers and jalapenos, which are fully ripe near the lower end of that scale.

Seeds that were planted indoors will take longer to ripe and bear fruit. The first few months will involve the growth of leaves followed by ripening and fruit-bearing.

Pepper corking 

This phenomenon can be observed when the skin of the peppers develops tiny tears. This happens because the skin of the peppers grows at a slower pace as compared to the flesh or the meat of the pepper. When these tears heal, they appear white. Corking is a key indicator of ripening and healthy growth.


In this article, we answered the question “How to pick a pepper?”, and how to store peppers?