So, you planted your first banana peppers. You cured them throughout the summer, dreaming about tasting their sweet or hot flavor and now that the fruits are almost ripe you’re wondering when to pick banana peppers.
I admit it, banana peppers are one of my favorite pepper varieties. I like them sweet just as much as I like them hot, and I love all of their colors: yellow, light green, orange and red.
The only problem I have with banana peppers is the fact that their skin color is not an indicator of their maturity. Therefore, understanding when is the right time to harvest might be a little tricky.
But there is nothing you should worry about. I’ll tell you when to pick banana peppers and how to figure out if they are ripe or not, so stay tuned!
When To Pick Banana Peppers
Like many pepper varieties, banana peppers reach their maturity after about 70 to 75 days after germinating. The real maturation time will obviously depend on the climatic conditions, type of soil they grow in and other less important factors, but this average time will help you monitor the status of the fruits.
Because there are slight growing differences between the two varieties of banana peppers, I believe that it is better to discuss each type separately.
When To Pick Sweet Banana Peppers
Sweet banana peppers usually reach 4 to 6 inches in length at maturity. The length of the fruit can be an indicator of their maturity, but remember that the composition of the soil and the overall growing conditions can influence the final size.
Sweet banana peppers are usually ripe when their color turns yellow and they are close to the average length. And here comes the beautiful part: at this stage, you can decide if you want to pick the peppers or leave them to continue their maturation.
In fact, banana peppers will not turn inedible when overripe, they will actually become sweeter and their skin will turn from yellow to red.
To harvest the peppers, wait until the morning dew dries out, then, with the help of garden shears or scissors, cut the peppers leaving about a quarter of an inch of the stem attached to the fruit.
When To Pick Hot Banana Peppers
Hot banana peppers are usually larger than their sweet cousins and reach an average of 6 inches in length. Just as for the sweet variety, the yellow color of the skin is an indicator of maturity, but this color doesn’t mean that you have to pick them right away.
If you prefer mild hot peppers, then it would be a good idea to harvest them as soon as you notice that the fruits are yellow and the length is more or less average. On the contrary, if you like really hot peppers, you can wait until the fruits turn red.
Hot banana peppers can be simply pull off the plant. Nevertheless, you should pay attention to not damage the plant when harvesting, therefore you should support the plant with one hand and grasp the peppers with the other.
To minimize the damage, you can use the same harvesting method described for the sweet variety.
How To Store Banana Peppers
Like almost all the other vegetables out there, banana peppers are usually tastier when fresh. For this reason, you should grow the number of banana pepper plants that produce enough fruits for you to consume immediately after harvest.
Since this is a tricky issue, sometimes you might face the need of preserving your peppers somehow.
If you intend to use the peppers as quickly as possible after harvest, you can store them in the vegetable drawer in your fridge for up to two weeks. Of course, you should only store the peppers that are healthy and don’t present any bruises or rotting signs on their skins.
If you want to preserve the banana peppers for a longer time, there are several options to choose from.
1. Pickle the banana peppers: a method especially used for the hot variety.
2. Freeze the peppers: cut them in halves, put them in freezer bags and freeze them for up to six months.
3. Dry the banana peppers: drying the peppers is easy, then you can use them to cook several dishes.
And now you finally know when to pick banana peppers. What is your preferred variety? What is your favorite preservation method? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!