Where Mexican cuisine is concerned, serrano peppers come second to jalapeno peppers in terms of popularity.
They also come in similar colors, but serrano peppers are smaller at one to four inches long and half an inch wide.
When growing these hot peppers, you’ll want to make sure you harvest them at the right time.
Deciding when to pick your serrano peppers depends on how hot you want them to be. You can start picking the green fruits if you don’t like them too spicy, or harvest yellow or orange peppers for a little more spice. Serrano peppers are at their spiciest if you wait for them to turn red or brown.
How Do You Know When Your Serrano Peppers Are Ready to Harvest?
There are several ways to check if your serrano peppers are ripe and ready for picking.
Here are some tell-tale signs you’ll want to watch out for:
The Right Color
As mentioned, you’d be able to tell how hot your serrano peppers are based on their color.
At the earliest stage of growth, the fruits will be green but not too spicy.
They will then change colors from green to yellow or orange to bright red or brown, which is when they become even hotter than jalapenos.
Other times, you will notice brown lines on the fruits regardless of their color.
The appearance of these lines is another indicator that they are ripe and ready for picking.
More than color, the size of the fruits can tell you when your serrano peppers are ready for harvest.
They become edible at two to three inches, but many home gardeners wait until the fruits are three to four inches long.
Depending on the variety, the smaller ones are often the hotter peppers.
For serrano peppers that are easier to prepare, you’ll want to start harvesting when they are still thin-skinned.
On the other hand, thicker-skinned fruits are perfect for making salsa, adding some crunch to every bite.
If you are growing your serrano peppers outdoors, you can rely on the temperature to know when they are ripe for harvest.
It would be best to pick all remaining fruits before winter comes for the best quality.
What Happens If You Don’t Harvest Serrano Peppers?
The earliest you can harvest serrano peppers is 60 days or two months after germination.
If you’d much rather prefer them at their hottest stage, wait up to 100 days.
Leaving them in the plant for longer than that will likely result in a couple of things.
First, you will notice the fruits coming off the plant and dropping to the ground, and they could also begin to rot.
Not harvesting the fruits will most likely affect your yield too.
Like other peppers, regularly harvesting serrano peppers will encourage the plant to grow more fruits.
As such, it is for the best if you pick them as early as when they are still in their green stage.
This way, the plants will have enough time to produce and grow more peppers before winter arrives.
How To Harvest Serrano Peppers
What we like the most about growing peppers is that they are more resistant to pests compared to other crops.
As such, it is perfectly possible to grow them without using pesticides.
They can get infested with whiteflies, aphids, or cutworms, but you can address this issue by simply spraying them with water.
What’s more, you won’t have to wait too long to start reaping what you sow.
Here’s how to harvest serrano peppers the right way:
Step 1: Make sure they are dry.
Like all hot peppers, moisture will cause the fruits to rot sooner than you’d like.
Excess moisture encourages diseases to spread easily, so it would be best to wait when they are dry before you start picking.
Step 2: Pick each fruit carefully.
Ripe serrano peppers should come right off the plant with a slight pull.
Otherwise, you could damage and break the delicate stems and prevent the plant from producing more fruits.
If it’s not possible to pick them off by hand, you can use a clean pair of clippers or a sharp knife to harvest them.
Step 3: Wash your hands.
Whether handling serrano peppers outdoors in the garden or in the kitchen, do not touch your face or eyes without washing your hands first.
It might not be too visible, but the exterior is coated with capsaicin oil that can burn and irritate your skin.
Aside from making sure you wash your hands afterward, you can also use gloves to protect your skin from irritation.
Should You Wash Serrano Peppers After Harvesting?
To preserve their freshness for longer, you shouldn’t wash serrano peppers right after harvesting them.
Instead, it would be best to brush off any dirt before storage.
Similar to other products, too much moisture will hasten spoilage, which is why it is very important that you keep them dry.
Serrano peppers store well in the fridge’s vegetable drawer, where temperatures are between 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Stored correctly, you can expect them to last anywhere from two to three weeks.
Can You Eat Serrano Peppers Immediately After Harvesting?
The good thing about serrano peppers is that they become edible once they have reached their mature size.
Again, you can start picking when they are about two to three inches long and still green in color.
If you’re not one for mild peppers, wait for them to turn red and become three to four inches long before harvesting.
They will also continue to ripen after picking.
To eat serrano peppers, mix them into your salsa or add them to salads or soups for a bit of spice.
You can prolong their life if you wash, cut, and freeze them right after harvesting.
As a member of the nightshade family, serrano peppers are packed with vitamins and minerals.
They boast high levels of vitamins A and C that help fight off diseases, as well as a good amount of vitamin B6 for better heart health.
The best part is that these hot peppers are easy to grow.
While they don’t do well in the cold, you can overwinter them by bringing them indoors before the temperatures become too low.