When To Pick Jalapenos

Do you wish to grow jalapeno peppers this season? Or do you want to know the correct harvesting time to pick those delicious and spicy peppers from your garden? We have got you covered with our jalapeno harvesting guide. We agree that growing jalapenos can be a very labor-intensive task but acquiring the yield at the end of the season is worth the effort. Thus to get the best outcome, we have answered some of the most critical questions related to jalapeno harvesting and have a few tips and tricks in case you harvested them before time. Keep reading to master the art of gardening and harvesting jalapeno peppers.

How do I know when the jalapenos are ready to be picked?

Knowing when to pick the jalapenos is extremely necessary to enjoy the classic taste you always prefer. One must note that jalapenos change in size, shape, and color once they start to grow. The final taste of the pepper entirely depends on the time you picked the pepper. The following signs will brief you about the cues for determining the readiest jalapenos from the bunch.

#1 Color

The color of your jalapenos is a very crucial cue to harvesting the plant. These peppers usually start turning into a bright green and move towards a deep and darker green. Once the jalapenos reach a deep green hue, they will soon begin shifting towards a blackish shade and finally into a fiery red. You can pick these jalapenos at any color stage as they are edible during all color phases. Green jalapenos are crispier and milder than red ones; however, red jalapenos have a distinct hot and sweeter taste. 

#2 Size

One should note that the size and length of jalapenos widely differ from the plant species and variety. Their size is another sign of their maturity and ripeness. While growing, jalapeno peppers turn from a tiny pea-sized bud to a more prolonged 3-6 inches long pepper. The plant, however, tends to produce smaller peppers when it isn’t fully exposed to the sun. We highly recommend referring to your seed packets to get an idea about the maximum size of your produce. The package can act as a guide to know whether the plant has reached its optimal size or not.


#3 Corking

This cue is another good sign of the jalapenos’ maturity. Corking happens when the jalapenos start growing small white lines all over the body. These lines indicate that the jalapenos are done growing, and it is a suitable time to pick them. You should not worry if your plant starts corking, as the peppers are safe to consume during this stage. The taste, texture, and color do not change because of corking.

#4 Sheen

Your fourth cue is the sheen of the jalapenos. When the peppers start growing, they develop a faint shine during their light green phase. The glaze on the skin, however, intensifies as it turns to a deeper green color. Your plant is ready to harvest when the jalapenos possess an extraordinarily oily and sheen on their skin.

How do you pick jalapeno peppers off the plant?

Now that you are extremely clear about the signs of its maturity, it is equally important to understand the proper steps to pick the peppers off the plant. Damaging the plant while harvesting the peppers will prevent it from growing more jalapenos later. 

Step 1: Identify the ripe jalapenos

You can identify all the ripe jalapenos by using the cues that we have mentioned above. Another great sign is the development of tiny cracks (corking) on the shoulders of your peppers. If you feel that your jalapenos are not entirely ready, avoid picking them for a few days. Once they are perfectly ripe, you can continue to step two.

Step 2: Holding the plant properly

Always try to hold the plant properly, as shaking or jostling the crop during picking can damage the entire plant. Gently grip the pepper branch with one hand and use your other hand to pick the peppers. Try to hold the stem below the jalapenos to invoke less resistance and damage to the plant.

Step 3: Picking the produce

You can use a small knife or shears to cut the stem of jalapenos without damaging the plant. If you do not wish to use shears, pulling them can be an excellent way to remove them from the plant. Since the peppers hang downwards with their bottoms pointed to the ground, try to use an upward pulling motion to detach the jalapenos swiftly. This method will easily pop off the jalapenos from the plant without ruining the plant. Highly avoid twisting or tearing the pepper, as it indicates that the pepper is unripe.

Do jalapenos get extra hotter when they turn red?

Certainly yes, the main reason behind their increased spiciness is the maturity of the jalapeno pepper. As the pepper matures, it gets a vibrant color and a hotter flavor; the reason behind this is a compound called capsaicin. When the peppers are younger, they have a smoother and milder spicy taste. But as the pepper grows, it produces more capsaicin which ultimately increases the heat, thus making the jalapeno spicier. However, the taste doesn’t heavily shift towards pure heat. A mature red jalapeno has an outstanding balance of spicy and sweet than a green jalapeno. 


How big should jalapenos be before you pick them?

You should always pick your jalapenos once they reach a standard height of 3-6 inches in length. If your pepper looks a little tiny and still has a light green color, we recommend keeping it as is for a few days. However, if you notice the pepper transitioning into a deeper shade, try to pick it before it over-ripes. You can also decide to pick them during their deep green phase to allow the plant to produce more jalapenos before the end of the season.

Will the jalapenos turn red on the vine? 

Yes, green and red jalapenos are not peppers of a different variety. They are the same peppers, but their different color dictates their maturity. Greener peppers are a little younger and less mature than red jalapenos. These jalapenos do turn red on the vine once they are fully grown. Thus if you wish to harvest sweet and spicy red jalapenos, keep the peppers on their vine to achieve their classic red color. It is worth noting that these peppers turn red a lot quicker when they are left on their vines rather than maturing after harvesting.

What to do if you have picked the jalapenos too soon?

If you have accidentally picked your jalapenos a little too soon, worry not, as these peppers can ripen even after the harvest. We recommend this step to people who wish to enjoy red jalapenos rather than green ones. To help the produce ripen, keep the jalapenos in the sunlight for a few days. You can utilize any north/south-facing window sill to carry the process of ripening your harvest. Within a few days, you will get vibrant red jalapenos with just the help of sunlight. Sadly, the flavor will not match freshly harvested red jalapenos, but the trick works during emergency preparations. Lastly, avoid exposing the jalapenos to excessive sunlight as it will quickly initiate the drying process.

Tips for growing, harvesting, and storing jalapenos

  1. Jalapenos might take a little while to mature and shift from one color to another. However, once it gets ripe, avoid leaving it on the plant for a long time. Jalapeno peppers tend to fall off the plant very quickly once they start getting over-ripe.
  2. If you find that the pepper is showing resistance while harvesting, avoid pulling or cutting the plant entirely. Resistance is a clear indication of premature harvesting and should be avoided. 
  3. Harvest your jalapeno peppers before the first frost of the fall. We highly recommend picking them off irrespective of their color as the crop can suffer damage in such weather. Usually, peppers are sensitive to cold weather and suffer physical deterioration and damage once the temperature drops below 40°F.
  4. If you have a surplus produce of jalapenos, consider freezing the peppers to enjoy their freshness even after months. You can slice the jalapenos into two vertical pieces and freeze them on a baking sheet. Once they are completely frozen, transfer them onto freezer bags and seal shut.


We hope this guide helped you understand the entire process of picking jalapeno peppers. We highly recommend harvesting the crop according to your personal preference. We suggest gathering them during their darker green phase if you are using the jalapenos for pickling. Similarly, if you wish to dry them to add to salsa, consider harvesting them once it reaches the red stage. Do not forget to harvest these jalapenos using the correct picking steps mentioned in the article. Lastly, try to pick all your jalapeno pepper produce before the first frost of the fall.

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