when-to-pick-green-peppers

When to Pick Green Peppers

Peppers ripen into beautiful shades of orange, yellow, red, and purple. All peppers begin as green fruits and remain green until they reach a mature size. Then they will gradually turn. Green peppers are harvested before they fully ripen. They are still sweet, crunchy, and nutritious. Harvesting them green encourages plants to produce more fruit.

Size

Ultimately it is up to you when to pick your green peppers. They are edible as soon as they appear on the plant. They will reach full size while green, and you can get larger fruits by waiting for them to mature. It is only a short window between when they reach a fully mature size and when they begin to turn color. Typically, bell peppers are at their full size when:

  • They are around three inches in diameter and four inches in height
  • Between 60 and 80 days old
  • Are fully rounded out and do not appear deflated

Days To Maturity

Each seed packet gives an approximate length of time it takes for the plant to reach maturity from sprouting. This is a useful tool when figuring out if green peppers are at their maximum size. Most sweet peppers take between 60 and 80 days depending on the variety and length of germination.

Smaller fruiting peppers like a Cajun Belle and the Gypsy Bell pepper which both mature in 60 days will be ready for harvest earlier. Varieties like the Big Bertha bell pepper (72 days) and the Bunker Green Bell (75 days) take longer and produce larger fruits.

Time Of Day

Peppers are at their juiciest and most crisp early in the morning. The heat of the sun will take its toll and dry them out. Peppers picked during the day are more likely to wilt even before being cut open, and they tend not to last as long in the fridge.

Pick fruit in the morning before it is in direct sunlight. Lightly squeeze your ripening fruits in the early morning and then again during the day for comparison. You will notice more give during the day when the fruits are less firm.

Harvesting Green Peppers

To harvest peppers, use sanitized and sharpened garden shears. Cut the fruit from the plant at the stem attached to the crown of the pepper. It is up to you how long of a stem to leave on the fruit. Avoid damaging the plant, it will continue to produce.

When harvesting peppers to dry, it’s convenient to leave enough stem so that the fruit can hang while drying. Store fresh green peppers in the fridge for up to 10 days. To preserve peppers longer, blanch and freeze them.