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5 Tips to Tell When Banana Peppers are Ripe

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Banana peppers are one of my favorite things to grow in the summer vegetable garden, and they’re a bit easier to grow that bell peppers. Just one plant usually gives me more than enough peppers for whatever I may need them for, and they’re so delicious when you grow banana peppers at home!

There are different varieties you can choose to grow in the home garden, including hot banana peppers, sweet banana peppers, and even sweet hot banana pepper plants. No matter what type of banana pepper you’re growing, you definitely want to know how to tell when banana peppers are ripe. 

What are banana peppers?

Banana peppers are a type of mild chili pepper with a long, slender shape resembling a banana, hence the name. They typically have a slightly sweet taste with a mild level of heat, ranging from 0 to 500 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Banana peppers are commonly used in salads, sandwiches, and pickled for added flavor and texture.

Though the different varieties will have a varied heat level, they’re still going to have a sweeter flavor than the heat-loving jalapeno. Banana peppers are a wonderful addition to any summer garden, whether that’s a container garden, raised bed garden, or row garden. They grow well alongside other sweet peppers, and there are so many fun varieties to try that you’ll never get bored growing them. 

When to Grow Banana Peppers

The best growing season for banana peppers is during the warm months of spring and summer when temperatures consistently range between 70°F to 90°F (21°C to 32°C). This allows the peppers to thrive in the optimal growing conditions, promoting healthy growth and fruit production. 

Seeds can be started indoors six weeks before your last expected frost to get a head start on the season. Additionally, planting banana pepper seeds or seedlings after the danger of frost has passed ensures they won’t be damaged by cold temperatures, which can stunt their growth.

If you’re interested in the whole process of growing banana peppers at home, then check out my article How to Grow Banana Peppers in the Home Garden!

When to Harvest Banana Peppers

Harvesting banana peppers at the right time is crucial to ensure they reach their peak of perfection. There are five key signs that typically indicate when it’s time to pick your banana peppers, from firmness and color to texture and taste. 

By using these signals as a guide, there’s a good chance your taste buds will be able to savor the full flavor of your peppers with every bite. Let’s dive into the world of banana pepper harvesting and discover how to enhance your culinary creations with freshly picked produce!

when banana peppers are ripe

Pepper Firmness and Size

As with most vegetables in the garden, we’re usually waiting for them to reach a certain size to know it it’s the perfect time to harvest. This is true for when to pick banana peppers also. 

A ripe banana pepper should feel firm to the touch, letting you know it is fully developed and ready to be picked. Also, the size of the pepper can also be a good indicator of its readiness for harvesting. 

Since there is some variation with the pepper size based on the type of pepper you’ve grown, be sure to keep that seed packet or plant stick handy to see if what full size means for this particular pepper. Once home gardeners have grown a particular variety for more than a season, they get a better feel for the size they’re looking for.

Pepper Color

Banana peppers are supposed to be yellow, right? But what if they have a red color? Or pale yellow color? It really does depend on the variety you’ve chosen to grow, so make sure you keep that info on hand.

But no matter what type of banana pepper you’re growing, pay close attention to the color of your peppers to know when they’re ready. A ripe banana pepper will display a bright, vibrant hue, letting you know it has reached its peak flavor and maturity. 

Avoid harvesting peppers that are still pale or green, as they may not have developed their full taste potential. The color of your banana peppers is the best way to know if it’s the ideal time for harvesting. 

Banana Pepper Texture

Similar to pepper firmness, a gardener can consider the texture of the banana pepper before harvesting. A ripe banana pepper should feel firm and crisp to the touch, indicating that it is at its peak readiness for harvest. 

Peppers that are soft or squishy, or have visibly wrinkled “skin,” may be overripe and past their prime. By paying attention to the texture of your fresh banana peppers, you can ensure that you are picking them at the perfect moment for optimal flavor. Now, let’s explore how the taste of the pepper can provide the final confirmation of its ripeness.,

Pepper Taste

When it comes down to it, no matter what a pepper looks like, the real question is how does it taste. If you’re more of a “taste and see” gardener, then pick off a sample and let your taste buds do the measuring. 

A ripe banana pepper will have a subtly sweet and slightly tangy flavor, with a hint of heat if you’re growing sweet/hot varieties. If the pepper tastes bitter or bland, chances are, it’s not fully ripe yet. Fresh peppers should also have a crunchy texture, that is harder to find in store bought peppers.

Also remember, as with most hot peppers, if you’ve chosen a hotter banana pepper variety, the heat should increase the longer it’s left to grow. 

By tasting a small sample of your peppers before harvesting, you can ensure that they have developed the full flavor profile that you desire. Once you’ve confirmed the taste, you can move on to considering the best time of year to harvest your banana peppers.

The Best Time of Year to Harvest Banana Peppers

Though, you likely thought of this first, time of year is a big indicator for when to harvest banana peppers. As I mentioned above, banana peppers typically thrive in warm weather, especially summer. So the best time to harvest main varieties of banana peppers is during the peak growing season, which is usually in late summer or early fall. 

At this time, the peppers will have had enough time to fully ripen and develop their optimal flavor. Keep an eye on your banana pepper plants and observe when they start to produce an abundance of ripe peppers. This is a good indication that it’s time to harvest and enjoy the fruits of your labor. 

More Banana Pepper Picking Tips

Ready to start harvesting your banana peppers? Once they’ve gone through the ripening process on the plant, use these helpful tips to harvest your peppers!

  • The best time of day to harvest is in the morning before the heat of the day.
  • Use sharp, clean pruners, sharp scissors, or a clean paring knife to cut the stem from the pepper plant; don’t harvest the entire plant, unless it’s the end of the season, and you’re harvesting all the peppers that are left. 
  • Give peppers a good rinse before consuming
  • Store harvested peppers in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

Harvesting your banana peppers at the peak of perfection is crucial for maximizing flavor and freshness. By paying attention to the firmness, color, texture, taste, and time of year of your peppers, you can ensure a bountiful harvest. 

Don’t let your peppers go to waste – pick them at just the right moment and savor the delicious taste of your homegrown produce. Remember, the key to great flavor is in the timing. So, trust these 5 signs and enjoy the fruits of your labor!


Thursday 6th of June 2024

I planted my first banana peppers this year, and I can't wait to start harvesting them!!!