The most typical sign to look out for is corking - these are small lines or stripes that appear
on the surface of the pepper that are caused by stress from the fully grown pepper. Some
pepper types display corking including certain jalapenos and habaneros. When harvesting
early in the season, I pick the peppers to allow for good air flow around the plant and so
should two peppers be coming in to contact, if possible, I would pick one of these.
How to know when my peppers are mature enough to pick?
Until you develop your own intuition as to when the peppers are ready for harvest-
ing, the section below details when the time is right for many types of peppers.
Bell peppers: these can be picked when they have reached full size, usually 3.5-4
inches (9-10cm) long and are firm to the touch. Upon turning color from green to their ex-
pected color the time to full ripening is quite short, so pay close attention to your plant.
Jalapeno: when the pepper reaches a size of approximately 3 inches (7.5cm) and
is a deep green in color, it is suitable for picking. The texture of the pepper is crisp when
it is green though has a mild flavor. Leaving the pepper on the plant will cause the pep-
per to change color and have a sweeter/hotter flavor, though the texture loses its crispness.
Jalapenos can display signs of corking indicating their maturity.
Banana peppers: these peppers are quite long, reaching sizes of 6-8 inches
(15-20cm) when ready for picking. They change in color as they mature from a pale yellow
to a darker yellow, then orange and red. As with other peppers, the flavor improves as the
Chile peppers: depending on the variety planted, these can range from 5-8 inches
(12-20cm) long with tapered ends. Chiles can be picked when they have a firm texture and
Tabasco peppers: Tabascos are ready for picking when the pepper becomes
slightly soft (i.e. the pepper becoming juicier) and is readily detachable from the green cap
to which it is attached.
To harvest the peppers use a scissors or knife to remove the fruits from the plant.
The branches can often be quite brittle and trying to remove the peppers by hand can of-
ten damage the plant. Cut the pepper off the plant, cutting a portion of the stem above the
pepper. Care must be taken if you are harvesting when the fruits are wet that you do not
inadvertently transfer disease from pepper to pepper. If you are growing hot chiles, always