Jalapeno peppers are America’s favorite, and it’s no surprise! They’re bright, spicy, and add a delicious spice to many meals! They’re not the hottest peppers in the world, but they pack a little bit of a kick – still enough to be fun and memorable, but not enough to blow the roof of your mouth off.
They’re something of a gateway pepper – great to try if you’re just getting into spicy food, or if you just fancy something that’s a little less mind-blowing!
Well, that’s not to say that they’re not hot – they average at about 5000 Scoville units!
Jalapeno peppers come from Mexico, and have a flavor that’s similar to serrano peppers – although less spicy. They’re a fantastic and versatile vegetable that can be used in hundreds of different dishes.
If you’re growing your own jalapeno peppers, you might be wondering when the best time to pick them is! Well, this handy guide will tell you what you need to know – including when to pick them, how to pick them, and how to tell if your peppers are ripe! Read on to find out more!
If you’re curious about how to find out if your jalapeno peppers are ripe and ready for picking, then read on!
Depending on which variety of jalapeno you’re growing, and the growing conditions – nutrients, sunlight, etc – the time it takes for a pepper to grow and mature can vary a bit.
You can tell quite easily by looking, however – there are several signs that are easy to look out for when assessing the ripeness of your jalapeno peppers.
You’ll have seen them change color as they grow, going from a light green color, to eventually a bright red! This is a great visual guide to how ripe your peppers are.
Peppers are usually picked before they turn red – before this, they can look almost black! Leaving them until they’re red means they’ve had the most time to become spicy. They’re generally less spicy when green, but are crispier.
If they’re still a light green color, then they’re probably a bit too too early for picking. A darker green indicates that the pepper is more mature – and spicier!
If the pepper is still quite small already, it’s probably not ready. A mature jalapeno pepper should be between 3 and 5 inches long – this can vary depending on the exact variety of pepper.
If you see some white streaks developing on your jalapeno, don’t worry – it’s a good thing! This is called corking, and it’s a great sign that your pepper is ready to be harvested.
When jalapenos are the right size for picking, they can often form small cracks on their shoulder, where the pepper curves towards the stem – another telltale sign.
Finally, mature peppers are firm to the touch, and have a healthy natural shine!
When To Pick Jalapenos
You’ll want to pick your peppers only when they’re mature – use the guide above to see how to tell!
You can pick your peppers while they’re green, or leave them until they turn red for that extra spice. That’s up to you – but don’t pick them too early. They won’t taste as good, and it’s a waste!
Likewise, if you leave them on the plant too long, they can hinder the plant – they’ll slow down the growth of other peppers! Worse still, they can end up rotting on the plant – and that’s something you really don’t want! So be sure to pick them when they’re ready – but not before.
When To Pick Jalapenos For Drying
If you’re planning on drying your peppers, you’re probably best off leaving them until they turn red. They’re much easier to dry than when they’re green, for a start! Leaving them until they turn red will probably give you the best flavor for when the pepper dries.
How To Pick
It’s actually pretty easy to pick jalapeno peppers! Here’s how to do it:
First of all, you need to find the right peppers to pick! This means finding out which ones are ripe, mature, and ready to go. Any others can be left on the plant to grow. Remember the things to look out for – color, size, corking – and identify the peppers you want.
Hold the plant gently but firmly, just below the pepper you want to harvest. Don’t pull the plant too far, as you don’t want to damage it. Just hold the plant right by the pepper so that you can pull it off without hurting the plant.
As jalapeno peppers grow pointing downwards, you can pick them by pulling them upwards, away from the stem of the plant. Simply separate the pepper from the stem gently. It should break away cleanly and easily – mature peppers practically love to be picked, so they’ll come off without much trouble.
Now that you’ve picked your jalapeno peppers, what can you do with them?
Well, first of all, you can cook with them! Jalapenos are amazing to cook with, and can be cooked straight off the vine. Just give them a wash, and chop them up just as you would any bell pepper – bearing in mind that unlike bell peppers, jalapenos are spicy!
They’re not just spicy though – and at 5000 Scoville units, they’ve got a little bit of bite but not too much. They’ve got a fresh, lively flavor, with a satisfying crunch. They’re versatile enough to be used in so many dishes – and the spice makes it fun to experiment with them!
Spicy peppers keep a lot of their bite in the seeds – so you can keep these in or leave them out, according to your taste. If you want all of the spice, use the seeds!
You can also store them for long term use. They can be pickled, frozen, or dehydrated – indeed, jalapenos are great for drying!
Jalapenos are easy enough to pick – you just have to make sure you pick the right ones! Look for the telltale signs of maturity, and pick them off the plant carefully and gently when they’re fully ripe. They’ll add a wonderful flavor to your food – and will add a lot of fun to your cooking!