When to pick Jalapenos? This article will help you determine when it’s time to pick your jalapenos. We have listed the main factors involved in determining jalapeno ripeness. If you are looking for a less in-depth answer, jump to the conclusion for a quick basic list of when to pick Jalapenos? .
When to pick Jalapenos?: Color
You can tell when it’s time to pick jalapenos by color. When a jalapeno starts to turn from green to red, it is ready for harvesting. The longer you wait, the more pungent the heat in the pepper will be. While a light green pepper will have very little heat and is good for snacking, a bright red jalapeno is perfect for salsas and spicy foods.
How you tell there is a change in color depends on whether you’re growing jalapeno plants or harvesting from a plant that was already started by someone else. If you started your jalapenos from seed, you can tell the pepper is ready when it starts to turn from green to red.
If you’re harvesting a plant that came from a store or was already started by someone else, all you really need to do is look at the pepper. If it’s still dark green and hasn’t changed color, it’s probably not ready to be picked yet. If it has turned from green to red, pick the pepper and make a fresh batch of salsa or a spicy dish with your favorite recipe.
How Color Determines Ripeness
The change in color happens slowly over time. You can see a distinct difference between a yellowing jalapeno and one that is still green, but not much difference between a fully yellow jalapeno and one that is starting to turn red. To get the best flavor from your jalapenos, wait until they are bright red before harvesting them.
When you check on your plants or peppers, look at the whole plant. There should be some green leaves near the tops of the plants, but don’t worry too much about those leaves. The peppers are what you’re interested in; if they’re turning red, it’s time to harvest.
When to pick Jalapenos?: Corking
Another way to tell it’s time to harvest jalapenos is by corking. If you take your finger and push on the stem of a pepper plant, it will feel firm, but not hard. The area where the stem starts turning into the fruit might be tender.
If you can push down on all parts of the plant and the stem is hard, your jalapeno plant doesn’t have many peppers left on it.
If you push down on a part of the plant and it feels soft with some give to it, that means there are still a lot of ripe jalapenos on the plant. These tend to be sweeter and less spicy than ones that are picked later.
Another way to tell if jalapenos are ripe is by checking the sheen of the plant. Jalapeno plants often have a shiny, glossy appearance when they first start changing color and developing peppers. As the peppers grow and ripen, that shine slowly disappears and the leaves become less bright green.
Cracks on the Shoulder
One way to tell that it’s time to harvest jalapenos is by checking the cracks on the shoulder or stem end of the pepper. Pay attention to one particular side of the pepper every time you check, because different sides ripen at different times.
If there are no cracks and the pepper is still a bright green color, it’s not ready to be harvested yet.
If the pepper has cracks on one side, it is probably about half-ripe. You can pick this pepper if you are in a hurry or are short on peppers, but it won’t be as flavorful as an almost-ripe pepper.
If there are cracks on two sides of the pepper, it’s about three-quarters ripe.
If there are cracks on all four sides of the pepper, it is fully ripe. This type of pepper is best for eating fresh or pickling.
When to pick Jalapenos?: Size
As you can tell, the easiest way to tell it’s time to pick jalapenos is by color. But, size can help too.
You can also tell when it’s time to pick jalapenos because they get bigger if you leave them on the plants too long. A jalapeno turns from green to red and then starts to grow larger. It will get slightly wider and taller as time goes by, but mostly it just gets fatter. You will know it’s time to harvest when the pepper is the size you want it.
If you’re not sure when that is, wait until they start to turn from green to red and then check again. When they’ve gotten bigger but still aren’t quite ripe enough for your tastes, pick them and use them in a recipe or eat raw with some salt sprinkled on them.
What to do with Unpicked Jalapenos
Now that you’ve picked all the good jalapenos, what do you do with the rest of them?
If you leave jalapeno peppers on the plant until they turn red, new flowers will start growing on the plant. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean you have to be more careful about the birds when you’re out harvesting your peppers.
If there are any peppers that haven’t turned red by when you want to harvest (and chances are there will be; it’s hard to wait for them all), pick the pepper and any of the smaller peppers that are close to turning red.
How to Store Fresh Jalapenos
You can eat your jalapenos right after you pick them (and you probably will), but they’ll last longer if you can store them somewhere cool and dry for a while. You can cut your jalapeno peppers into thin slices and dry them out with a dehydrator or by using your oven, but fresh is definitely best.
There are all kinds of things you can do with your jalapeno peppers after they’ve been harvested and stored, such as grilling them or pickling them for later use. However you store them, just remember that the longer you wait, the hotter they get.
Conclusion: When to pick Jalapenos?
There are several indicators to tell it’s time to pick jalapeno peppers:
- Cracks on the shoulder
- When they’re green and/or white and not yet red
- If you leave them on the plant too long, they will turn red and new flowers will start growing on the plant
- If you pick them before they are completely red, they will be less hot but have a better flavor
Hopefully, this article will help you determine when it’s time to pick your jalapenos. Good luck with picking your jalapenos.