when-to-pick-habanero-peppers

When To Pick Habanero Peppers

Habanero peppers come in many varieties. Well known for being some of the hottest chilis in the world, there are sweet and mild versions of this spicy favorite. Always use caution when growing and handling hot peppers. Keep children and pets away from the ripening fruits, and wear protective gear while harvesting.

Varieties

Knowing exactly when your peppers are ripe depends on the variety grown. Different varieties mature into different colors, including orange, red, yellow, white, and chocolate. Grow a variety of flavorful and colorful habaneros.

  • Orange habanero: Considered the ‘true habanero’, ripens to orange, very hot
  • Red habanero: Same size and shape as orange, ripens to red, very hot
  • Big sun habanero: large wrinkly fruit, ripens to yellow, fruity flavor, very hot
  • Yucatan white habanero: Small tapered fruits, ripen to white, smoky flavor, extremely hot
  • Jamaican chocolate habanero: sometimes not considered a true habanero, ripens to chocolate, caribbean flavor, very hot
  • Trinidad perfume pepper: Considered a sweet habanero, ripens to yellow, fruity flavor, very mild

When to harvest

All chili peppers can be harvested green. Fruits showing hints of their mature color may change after harvesting. The flavor and hotness will develop further as the pepper ripens. Habaneros are typically harvested when their full color has developed.

There will be ripe and unripe peppers on the same plant. Begin harvesting peppers when they change color. Picking the ripe fruits encourages the plant to produce more. Ripe fruits are brightly colored, firm, and filled out.

Fruits that are done growing will pull from the plant easily. If they don’t come off when given a slight tug, they are still growing. Fruits that have brown lines forming are done growing regardless of their size and should be picked.

Days to maturity

An orange habanero will take between 90-120 days to reach full maturity. This time period begins at transplant so keep in mind that plants started from seed will take two to four weeks longer.

How to harvest

While you can use your hands to tug on a fruit and determine if a pepper is ripe, it isn’t recommended to use bare hands to harvest habaneros. The oils on the outer skin cause irritation and burning. Pulling the fruit from the plant may damage the plant or roots. Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the stems of the peppers to remove them.

Storage and preservation

Store fresh peppers in a cool area or in the fridge for up to three weeks. They can be preserved further through canning, drying, freezing, or pickling.