Spicy or Sweet: A Guide to Peppers

Harvesting peppers can be a little tricky, but with the right knowledge you can enjoy the peak flavor of these sweet (or spicy) treats.

Many people don’t realize that almost all pepper varieties start out green and ripen to red, orange or yellow when left on the plant. Once it reaches full size, a pepper may take 10 days or more to ripen. The smaller the variety, the faster the fruits will turn color, so if you if you have less sun in your garden, try some snacking or chili varieties.

Hot peppers will also become spicier the longer they are left on the plant, so if you like a more mild pepper, pick it as soon as it gets up to size, before it turns red. For certain varieties, such as jalapenos, striations or small cracks that run length-wise down the length of the pepper are also a sign of age and therefore spiciness, even when the pepper is still green.

Peppers will continue producing until first frost– usually mid-October. They can be stored on the counter for a few weeks. For longer storage, keep peppers in the fridge or freezer. Some varieties, such as cayennes, can even dry naturally on the counter.