When to Harvest Jalapenos – Planting Guide 2021

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when to harvest jalapeno

When you want to add a bit of heat to your cooking, jalapenos are a natural vegetable to reach for. Those fortunate enough to live in a warm climate can grow these spicy peppers in their backyard. Find out when to harvest jalapenos so you can always have some extra flavor on hand.

When to harvest jalapenos? Jalapenos need a good three to four months to ripen and they won’t be ready until August or September. Their growing season depends not just on the variety but on how hot the weather is and how much sunlight they are exposed to.

Jalapenos love the heat and if they are planted in full sun, they will grow much better. Look for your jalapenos to be 3 to 5 inches in size. They aren’t long peppers so don’t wait around thinking they’ll be gigantic. Another important sign jalapenos are ready to harvest is their color.

Once large enough, jalapenos will start with a light green color. While a bit bitter, they will also be less hot. If you want a milder taste or plan on canning your jalapenos, you can harvest them now.

The nest stage is a dark green color, which is the most common. They will have a nice mix of spiciness. After dark green, your jalapenos will turn an almost black color, which means the spicy factor is amping up.

Finally, if left to grow long enough, your jalapenos will actually turn a bright red color. The result is a fully spicy pepper that is also pleasantly sweet.

Unfortunately, not many jalapenos turn red as it takes a while and the impending fall cooler temperatures means you may have to harvest your peppers before this happens. Once ready, simply grasp the jalapeno, push upwards and it will pop off the rest of the plant, leaving a small stem behind.

How do you know when your jalapenos are ready to harvest?

Size

Ideally, you want your jalapenos to be 3 to 5 inches long. This will take some time as the peppers start as just tiny buds on the plant. However, they will continue to grow if they get enough sun, food, and water.

When planting, be sure to place your jalapenos in full sun. Otherwise they won’t grow long enough.

Furthermore, not enough sun exposure can lengthen the period to reach maturity. As a result, cold weather could set in before your jalapenos even get a chance to fully ripen.

Color

Jalapeno peppers take a long, long time to grow. In fact, you have to wait three to four months for them to be ready, which can infuriate even the most patient of people.

Furthermore, even when jalapenos begin to ripen, they can take quite a while until you should pick them. This is because the longer they stay on the plant, the spicier the jalapenos become.

When it comes to harvesting jalapenos, it’s all about color. And, more specifically, it’s about personal preference to spiciness.

Most people are familiar with light green jalapenos and while these certainly produce some heat, they are the tamest in spice level.

As jalapenos ripen, they will become a dark green color. This is a good level of spiciness for most people and the most common time to pick jalapenos.

After dark green comes black jalapenos. No, they aren’t rotten, they’re just moving along in the spiciness rating.

Finally, if you leave jalapenos on the plant long enough, they will turn a bright red color. This is definitely the least common form of jalapenos, both because most people are too impatient and also because the spice level will be to the max.

Corking

The final way to tell if jalapenos are ready to harvest is called corking. Look closely and you should see white lines that are quite fine on the skin of your jalapenos.

At first, you might think this is a sign of disease; in actuality, it is normal and perfectly safe to eat. The lines will be clustered around the top and then spread out towards the bottom. They will be small in size, just a few millimeters in length.

What happens if you don’t harvest jalapenos?

what happens if you dont harvest jalapeno

As jalapenos continue to ripen, if you don’t pick them, eventually they will turn to rot. As peppers aren’t ready until late summer, if nothing is done with the plant, it will start to break down, leaving a bit of a mess in your garden.

Inside jalapenos are multiple seeds and there could be a chance that out of the forgotten plant new jalapeno plants will emerge.

However, if your winters are cold, the seeds might not survive as the entire plant needs plenty of warmth to grow.

How to harvest jalapenos?

The first step to harvesting jalapenos is to decide what color of peppers you want. Then, wait for your jalapenos to turn this color, either light green, dark green, almost black, or red.

You also should consider the weather. If your jalapenos have just started to mature and there’s a cold snap on the way, you might not be able to leave them on long enough to change to a spicier color.

Now that you know what type of jalapeno pepper you want, it’s time to harvest!

Gently hold the actual pepper plant with one hand to stabilize it. Then, with your other hand, grasp the jalapeno and push it upwards, towards its stem.

There should be a nice popping sound as the jalapeno disconnects from the plant, leaving a short stem atop the pepper.

If you find that you’re having to put more effort into picking your jalapenos, it may be a sign that they aren’t actually ripe yet.

Should you wash jalapenos after harvesting?

Jalapenos should not be washed immediately after harvesting unless you plan on using them right away. Instead, think about what uses you plan for them.

Too much moisture and your jalapenos will start to rot. Instead, leave them be and only wash jalapenos before you plan on eating them.

Can you eat jalapenos immediately after harvesting?

eating jalapenos after harvesting

Yes, jalapenos are great when picked right off the plant. If you need them for a stir fry, salsa, or maybe some fajitas, you can go out and pick jalapenos right before they are needed.

Often you will find that you have more jalapenos than you know what to do with. A little goes a long way and if you don’t have enough friends or family who want to share in your harvest, there are a few ways to store them for later.

Fresh jalapenos can be stored in the fridge in a brown paper bag. They will keep for 5 to 7 days.

You can also freeze jalapenos. To do so, you can either simply freeze them whole or slice them for later use.

If freezing whole jalapenos, simply give them a good rinse, let them dry, and then remove the stems. Place a bunch in a freezer bag and they will last up to a year.

For sliced jalapenos, wash them and then slice them, usually about ¼ to ½ inch thick. Place the slices on a sheet and freeze them individually. Then, transfer them to a freezer bag.

One of the best ways to use jalapenos is to can them. If you use early jalapenos, that are light green in color, they will hold their shape better and won’t turn soggy during the pickling process.

To pickle jalapenos, pick what you want and then wash then and slice them. For the brine, there are many recipes but most use vinegar and water. To amp the taste, you can add herbs or even chili peppers.

Once the canning process is complete, jalapenos will keep for a year. You can enjoy a tasty, spicy treat on your nachos whenever you want.

What to use different jalapenos for?

For those that are growing tons of jalapenos for pickling purposes, you will want to harvest your vegetable when the peppers are a light green color. This way they will be crispy and crunchy, and thus will hold their shape and texture better in a brine.

However, if you’re worried about not having spicy enough pickled jalapenos, you can always throw in a few chili peppers as the jalapenos will soak up their spiciness during the canning process.

For those that want a fresh, bold salsa, try to wait for the jalapenos to turn red. They will add a real kick to any dish.

Always remember that jalapeno seeds are the hottest part of the plant. So, if you want heat but not too much, use red jalapenos without the seeds.

The nice part about jalapenos is that you are in control to determine how long your jalapenos grow and what part you end up using.

Conclusion

Picking jalapenos is a well-deserved treat after waiting patiently for them to ripen. While you have to wait until August or September, depending on where you live, when they’re finally ready you’ll be able to really spicy up your cooking.

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