The Q&A Archives: Hot Peppers

Question: I have planted Habaneros, Fresno, Cayenne and Jalapeno peppers. When do I pick them and after picking, what are my options for keeping them? Do I have to dry them or will they "keep" for a while so that I can use them in the future. How would I store them if this is possible? All of my plants are healthy and have a lot of fruit on them but I don't know if I should pick them off or not.

Answer: Peppers taste best if allowed to fully mature before harvesting. Habaneros are one of the hottest peppers around, especially if used dried. They will mature about 90 days after planting and should be a bright red when harvested. Fresno is a medium hot 4-inch long chile. Maturing in 75 days, Fresno will turn from green to red when mature. Cayenne is a dark green pepper that matures to bright red. It grows 4-5 inches long and about 1/2 inch in diameter. Jalapeno peppers are small, thick walled peppers that taste best green but will mature to red. All peppers will keep for several days to a few weeks if stored in the refrigerator. You can use them fresh, or as part of a salsa that you freeze or can. If you want longer storage times, the peppers should be dried and stored in airtight containers. Dried peppers have an intense taste, so use them sparingly until you can predict how hot the finished product will be.

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