when-to-pick-ghost-peppers

When To Pick Ghost Peppers

Ghost peppers also called Bhut jolokia are hybridized peppers plants from India. These were created as the hottest peppers in the world and held that title until 2007. They are still blazing hot and are rated at a steamy one million Scoville units. For comparison, a jalapeno pepper ranks between 3500-8000. U.S. Grade pepper spray ranks at two million Scoville units.

Varieties

There are several varieties of ghost pepper. Some produce tall plants with wrinkly fruit and others have smooth fruit.

  • Bhut Jolokia: 4 foot tall plant, red ripening fruits, 2-3 inch chilis
  • Chocolate Bhut Jolokia: 4 foot tall plant, chocolate ripening fruits, 2-3 inch chilis, sweeter but still as hot
  • Yellow Bhut Jolokia: 4 foot plant, yellow ripening fruit, 35 inch chilis, highly productive plant, also sweeter than original
  • Peach Bhut Jolokia: Slight larger 4-6 inch chilis, smoother sweeter flavor

Precautions

Wear protective gear while handling these fiery peppers. It is recommended that you wear gloves and eye protection when picking or processing ghost peppers. The plants in the garden should be fenced from pets and children. Even brushing past a ghost pepper hanging on a plant can cause irritation and pain.

Always avoid touching your bare skin, eyes, or mouth when handling spicy peppers. Capsaicin does not cause actual tissue damage, but it is extremely painful and uncomfortable.

Days to Maturity

Ghost peppers take around 95 days to reach maturity. This number refers to the time between sprouting and fruit production. Plants will take a week to sprout, and once producing they will continue to pump out fruits.

Fruits start out green and eventually ripen to red, yellow, peach, or chocolate. Picking peppers will encourage the plant to produce more. In USDA zones 11 and above hot peppers can be grown perennially outdoors. In these climates, the plant will produce a crop of fruit each summer.

Colors and Ripeness

All peppers can be picked when green if preferred. During this stage, fruits tend to be milder in heat and flavor. They are very crisp and have a green vegetable mouthfeel compared to fully mature peppers.

Most ghost peppers are harvested after maturing into their final colors. When fruits have a brilliant red color and feel firm to the touch they are ready to pick. Yellow, peach, and chocolate varieties will mature to their individual colors.

The ghost pepper varieties listed above have wrinkly fruit. Smoothness is not a factor in deciding when to pick. There are smooth varieties of this pepper, but they are far more uncommon.

You can also harvest ghost peppers to ripen off the plant. They must be showing signs of turning from green to their color before picking.