When are banana peppers ripe?

There are several reasons why people all over the country love to grow banana peppers. Banana peppers are a fun vegetable to grow, they’re tasty and they go great on pasta, pizza and salads. In addition to this, banana peppers also offer multiple nutritional benefits as well. However, unless you know when the right time is to pick the banana peppers from the plant, you may end up with a bad vegetable.


What is the Average Length of the Ripening Process

So, when are when are banana peppers ready to be picked? The average pepper becomes fully mature about 70 to 75 days after it has been planted. Other kinds of peppers may mature at a different rate, but this is the average time length for most peppers. Now, there are a number of factors that come into play. They include:

The quality of the soil they’re planted in.

Whether they’re watered properly or not.

The current climatic conditions.

The Flavor of a Banana Pepper

The flavor of banana peppers is solely dependent on when they are picked. If they are picked at the right time, they’ll have a tangy yet sweet flavor to them. On the other hand, if you pick your banana pepper’s too early, they just won’t have a good taste to them. If you let them stay on the plant too long, they’ll start to become rotten and mushy. This is why it’s important to make sure that you know when to pick banana peppers from plant.

A Banana Pepper’s Size When Ripe

The length of a banana pepper is one of the several ways you can tell if it’s ready to be picked. Generally, a banana pepper will average in about 4 to 8 inches. If your banana peppers are shorter than this, there’s a good chance that they’re premature and shouldn’t be picked quite yet. Your banana peppers should be fully grown before you begin to pick them.

The Color of a Ripe Banana Pepper

When a banana pepper is premature, it’s skin is a mixture between a light green and a bright yellow. If you see this color, you’ll want to make sure you leave it on the plant for a few more weeks. Banana peppers transform from a greenish yellow to a bright yellow to a sharp shade of red. You’ll know your banana peppers are ready to be picked when they have reached this reddish stage.

Sweet Banana Peppers vs. Hot Banana Peppers

Now, there are quite a few varieties of banana peppers available. In fact, the color, size and the rate at which they will ripe can vary slightly in comparison to your regular banana peppers. Two of the most common include sweet banana peppers and hot banana peppers.

Like your basic banana pepper, the sweet banana pepper also grows to an average length of 4 inches or more when it’s fully matured. However, when the hot banana pepper is fully matured, it’ll be an average length 6 inches.

In addition to size, when the sweet banana pepper has fully matured, the color of it’s skin will turn a bright yellow. On the other hand, you have options when it comes to the hot banana pepper. For instance, if you want your hot banana peppers to have a milder taste, you’ll want to pick them when they’re a bright yellow. Moreover, if you want your hot banana peppers to have a more spicier taste, then you’ll want to pick them when they have a red color to them.

So, if you’re trying to remember to when to pick sweet banana pepper, just remember they should be a bright yellow, and when you’re trying to remember when to pick hot banana peppers, always keep in mind you have a choice based on your desired level of spiciness.

Removing Your Banana Peppers from the Branch

To ensure that your banana peppers are not damaged or smooched in any way, you’ll want to make sure that you never pick them with your hands, and when you do this, use a pair of clippers or shears. Another point worth mentioning is that when you’re clipping your banana peppers from the branch, make sure that you don’t twist them off with your snipping tool. Here are a few other tips when you’re snipping off your banana peppers:

Make sure that you don’t fray the ends of the branches.

Leave a bit of stem when you but the banana pepper. In fact, leave at least a quarter of an inch of spacing.

Make sure that when you cut the banana pepper from the branch that you do it softly, carefully and always take your time.

Always use a sharp tool to cut your banana peppers. If your tool is dull, make sure that you sharpen it up before you begin removing the peppers from the branch.

Above all, try not bruise your banana peppers or the branches of your plant. Bruising your banana peepers will make then to become rotten and go bad faster.

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Allison Cartwright has been writing professionally since 2009. Cartwright has published several eBooks on craft and garden-related subjects. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas.

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When to Pick Sweet Banana Peppers?

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To start it off, a banana pepper is part of the chilli peppers family. As its name suggest, when fully ripe or matured, this type of chilli peppers looks remarkably like a banana. This type of pepper changes colors depending on how ripe it is. A banana pepper is usually 4 to 8 inches long, and 1 to 1.5 inches wide.

When Do You Know If a Banana Pepper Is Ripe?

The pepper changes colors as it becomes ripe.

Green to pale yellow – Not yet ripe
Rich yellow – Ripe
Orange to red – Really ripe

It can be picked anytime between it becomes yellow, to when it reaches red. When the pepper reaches these colors, they are perfect if you want to pick sweet banana peppers.

Image Source: ufseeds.com

What Does a Banana Pepper Taste Like?

The taste of this pepper depends on when it is picked. Usually, banana peppers taste mildly tangy and it is part of the pepper family that can even have no spiciness at all. Its taste is quite similar to the taste of green peppers, with a distinct sweetness that separates them from each other.

When left on the plant until fully ripe, the banana pepper becomes tangy and sweet. The riper the banana pepper, the sweeter it is.

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What to Watch Out for:

Waiting for the Peppers to Ripen

This is important if you want to pick sweet banana peppers and not rotten ones. Waiting for too long is a bad idea when harvesting sweet banana peppers. The peppers may start to rot while still on the plant. Therefore, you must be watchful for any discoloration and check to see if parts of the pepper are soft. A banana pepper with soft texture is an indication if it starting to rot.

The Size of the Peppers

The length of a fully grown banana pepper ranges from 4 to 8 inches. Be sure that the peppers you are harvesting are completely grown before proceeding to harvest them.

How to Remove Them from the Branches

When picking the peppers from the plant’s branches, it is a big no-no to pick or pull it by hand. Doing so will lead to damaging the plant and this would be bad for the plant. In addition, it is also not a good idea to twist the stem, for this will be damaging to both the pepper and the plant. As you cut or shear the stems of the peppers from the branches, always make sure that there are no frays from where you cut it.

Leave a spacing of a quarter of an inch, to half an inch of stem attached to the pepper. This will ensure that the banana pepper will not spoil quickly because there will be no open cut or bruise from where the stem would have been taken off.

Do not exert too much force in holding the pepper or the branch when picking. This may cause a bruise on the plant and lead to quicker rotting or spoiling.

Image Source: photobucket.com

The Tools to Be Used When Harvesting

Always use scissors, shears or a cutting knife when taking the peppers off of the branches. Sharp gardening tools will always be best for harvesting banana peppers. This will make sure that the cut is clean and straight, therefore protecting the plant from damage or disease.

A Few Reminders

The more often you harvest from the plant, the more often it will reproduce. Overall, the most important thing is to be careful when harvesting a banana pepper plant. This is to ensure that the plant would not be damaged and still continues to bear fruit, and that you can pick sweet banana peppers more in the future.

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When to Pick Banana Peppers: An Easy Guide

Fall is a wonderful time of year. The days are still warm enough to be comfortable, and the nights are cooler. The leaves start to change to the usual variety of breathtaking colors. More importantly for those of us that grow our own gardens, it’s harvest time.

It’s finally time for us to reap the benefits of a summer long endeavor that started with prepping the soil, planting a garden, and tending to it nearly daily to keep it watered, free of weeds and pests, and healthy.


Some of the most popular fruits of our labors are a variety of chili peppers. Among them is the sweet banana pepper; its colors liven up a garden and its mild, sweet taste liven up a multitude of dishes.

But your plants are full of banana peppers, some yellow, some red, and some green, so how are you to know just when to pick banana peppers? Are there any signs that you can watch for?

A Vegetable Or A Fruit?

There seems to be a lot of confusion about some popular garden crops, and the same is true of peppers, particularly the question of whether they are a vegetable or a fruit.

According to the Mayo Clinic, fruits are the parts of a plant that develop from the plant’s flowers; the parts that contain the seeds. Vegetables are parts of the rest of the plant, including leaves (lettuce,) buds (broccoli,) stems (celery,) and roots (potatoes).

Surprisingly enough, most folks don’t know that we commonly refer to as a banana pepper not only is not a vegetable, but it’s not really a pepper either. Like other so called peppers, banana peppers are actually chilies. Some peppers, like the banana pepper, change color when they are ripe, as do some of the more well known fruits like apples, bananas, and strawberries.

How Long Does A Banana Pepper Take to Ripen?

Most varieties of pepper plants mature in about 60 days after seedlings are transplanted. That may seem like a long time, until you thing about the time it takes for an apple tree to mature.

Your first sign of maturity will be the appearance of buds, which turn to flowers. The flowers shed their leaves, leaving only their core attached to a stem. This core will eventually develop into a seed pod, or fruit.

Banana pepper plants generally reach full, fruit bearing maturity around 80 to 85 days after planting, and grow up to 2 feet in height. Unlike most varieties of peppers, which start early as green in color, banana peppers, true to there name, start a shade of yellow, and mature to an orange or red color.

So How Do You Know It’s Picking Time?

Banana peppers are considered a mild pepper, or sweet pepper. They score relatively low on the “heat” scale, due to their low content of the substance that gives chili peppers their heat, a substance called capsaicin.

It turns out that the longer you let your peppers ripen, the sweeter they will be and the milder they will be. With this in mind, you can harvest them as soon as they are large enough to satisfy your liking.

Banana peppers start small and greenish yellow after the blossoms are gone, and grow up to several inches long with a banana-like curve. If you let them stay on the plant, they will eventually turn a solid yellow, then orange, then red.

You may find it to your liking to sample the peppers at various stages of ripeness, to determine which you prefer. Whatever you do, don’t wait too long or the peppers will become soft, lose their texture, and just won’t taste good.

  • Did You Know When to Pick Jalapenos for The Perfect Flavor? to Find Out!

Harvesting Your Crop is A Process

There is a process to harvest banana peppers, that is, a right and a wrong way to pick your crop. If you harvest them right, you will end up with more of these sweet, delightful peppers than you would otherwise.

When you ready to pick peppers, you will need a few things:

  • A sharp set of pruning shears
  • A basket or other container
  • Water to rinse them off
  • A storage method, either freezing or canning, or pickling, or of course you could just eat them fresh

Harvesting your peppers early, before the first frost, and often, will stimulate the plants to produce more blossoms, and thus more peppers. To begin the process, start by inspecting the peppers for any discoloration, soft spots, or mold spots, or blossom end rot.

Any peppers with these conditions can be trimmed from the plant and discarded. Always use shears to remove the peppers from the plant, which will avoid damage to the stalk and protect the plant from disease that can occur in a broken, rather than cleanly cut, stem.

When selecting peppers to pick, make sure they feel firm and hollow. Don’t try to pull or twist them from the stem, as this will likely damage the plant itself. To pick your peppers, simply support them firmly with a loose grasp.

There should be no pressure exerted on the stem or the stalk. Using your shears, sharply cut the pepper’s stem, with as clean a cut as possible. Leave no frayed ends, and trim the remaining stem close to the stalk.

Finally, Enjoy Your Peppers

We’ve covered some of the basics of growing and harvesting banana peppers, and there are multiple resources on the web that you may find useful, particularly if you search domains like .org, .edu, and .gov. The Ohio Farm Bureau gives a basic rundown on types of peppers, and how to grow and harvest them.

Peppers are easy to grow, and can be harvested late into fall and even early winter. If a frost is forecasted, you can always cover the plants with a tarp, or even pull the plants and hang them upside down until the peppers ripen. Let’s review some pointers on the subject of when to pick your banana peppers:

  • Harvesting should begin around 80 days from transplanting the seedlings
  • Peppers should feel hollow and firm, and be from 4 to 8 inches long
  • Peppers should show no signs of rotting, such as spots of discoloration or soft texture
  • Harvest peppers at various stages of ripeness, from yellow to green to red, to suit your taste
  • The longer you wait to harvest, the sweeter the peppers will be
  • Harvest before the first frost
  • Don’t wait too long, or the peppers will start to rot on the plant.

Banana peppers are great in salads, vegetable dishes, or even fried. They make a terrific pepper for stuffing with your favorite meat and cheese, before roasting over a flame or in the oven.

Be sure to preserve a few batches so you will have them when supply is low and costs are high, by either canning them with a pressure canner or freezing them. Most of all, enjoy your peppers, they are the fruits of your labor!

When to Pick Banana Peppers

Named for their reflective shape of the sweet tropical goodness of bananas, banana peppers can be contradictive of their namesake, since these cousins of the chili pepper can be a tangy and sweet, yet sometimes spicier, treat for the senses. They have thick waxy outer skins and few seeds. Their color is often yellow, but can be orange or red as well.

The Beauty of Banana Peppers

These slender delicate peppers are not only sweet, tangy, crisp, and delightful, but they are excellent sources of valuable nutrients, full of health benefits. Adding them to your regular menu will help to improve blood circulation and reduce blood pressure, as well as adding in digestion. These beauties are low in fat and low in calories (only nine calories in a pepper about 4” long). However, they are crammed packed full of vitamin C (containing 200% of the recommended daily value as defined by the US Department of Agriculture). They also contain vitamin B6, vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, potassium, iron, calcium, a little fiber, and a little protein.


Banana peppers are generally sweet in nature but a slightly more spicy variety does exist. This mildly spicy pepper is generally around 6” in length, has a medium hot bite, and grows hotter the longer it is allowed to ripen on the plant, turning crimson red. You can grow both varieties in the same garden; however, they will cross germinate, so it is advised that you should plant each variety with significant distance between the plants.

How to Grow a Great Pepper

Banana peppers require full sun but not direct sun, for the scorch can quickly damage the leaves of the plant and develop a form of decay called sunscald. These delicate plants require moist, adequate watering but good drainage, lest they develop root rot. Always water from the soil rather than overhead to reduce disease and infestation. They are prone to insects and disease. Watch for signs of injury and respond quickly. Removal of any visible insects and the application of a mild soapy water spray to the entire plant, from leaves to soil will often be enough to remove the parasites. Cutworms seek out the tender shoots of seedlings, so a regular inspection is beneficial. Aphids, tiny white looking bugs, like to group in clusters on the underside of leaves. When present, the excretions cause leaves to grow distorted and they wilt. Armyworms and fruit worms prefer the developing fruit pods but sometimes eat away at foliage too. Flea beetles target immature plants and are identifiable by the small holes left in the leaves. Whiteflies are exceptionally damaging since they fly from plant to plant, spreading viruses, and damaging leaves. If you notice any distorted, damages, yellowing leaves, snip them off with pruners or scissors, discarding them in the trash rather than allowing them to compost underneath the plant. Additionally, wash any tools used in treating the plant with hot water and soap prior to storing and using again.

Banana pepper plants grow well from transplant or from seed and are excellent in containers and raised beds but are capable of being in an established garden if they are protected from direct sunlight. In order to promote a healthy foundation for your plants, remove flowers if the plant is still small and not yet well established, thus allowing it to grow and mature prior to yielding fruit. Likewise, removing premature peppers encourages the plant to double in size and increase the next yield of flowers for a larger, stronger crop of peppers. A good 12-12-12 fertilizer will ensure a hearty crop and strong plants.

Ready or Not?

The size of the pepper is the first indication of maturity; most varieties yield a pepper between 4” and 8” at maturity. Color too is an indicator. All peppers start out green and transition into yellow, yellow green, orange, and red. The variety of plant will determine the appropriate coloring. Be sure to read the seed package or transplant card when you first acquire the plant.

Proper Harvest Techniques

Certainly not that banana pepper plants are fragile or unnecessarily delicate, but they are finicky and require care when being handled. It is advisable to move the stems and leaves aside when harvesting and to use a sharp pair of pruners or scissors when removing the mature peppers, making sure to leave a small portion of the stem and cap attached to the harvested pepper. Do not pull, pinch, or break off the peppers, as this will damage the overall plant and affect the next crop of peppers. Because their will most likely be more than one or two peppers ready to harvest at one time, it is most productive and effective to cut the pepper and allow it to fall to the ground or into the pot, from which you can gather all the peppers at once when you have completed your harvesting. Make sure to harvest often, to encourage additional crops to flourish as time passes. Once gathered rinse the peppers and refrigerate them for use within a two-week period. Freezing the peppers will keep them for a longer period and ensure you have a supply during the cooler fall and winter months. They will also keep when pickled and canned, which is a different discussion.

Uses for Your Perfect Peppers

The tangy sweetness and mild bite of the banana pepper mixes well with many other flavors. They often accompany other vegetables (such as greens and salads) and proteins (such as cheeses, burgers, and hot dogs). When pickled in vinegar, they often have a similar tangy sweetness as sweet pickles. They are excellent as pizza toppings, in various pasta sauces, and stuffed similarly to a jalapeño popper. Many people who are not fond of the flavor of bell peppers, find that the milder flavor of larger banana peppers are preferred when served as stuffed, baked, peppers.

Sum It All Up

Banana peppers are such a rich, delicious choice for your gardening efforts. Not only healthy and flavorful, but these fruit shaped peppers are easy and bountiful in its yield. Once in yielding fruit, they will fill your vegetable basket daily with the right harvesting practice and there is often plenty to store for the winter and share with others. Banana peppers are a gift to every table they grace.

Banana Pepper: Tangy, Sweet, And Mild


The sandwich and pizza topper favorite…

Scoville heat units (SHU): 0 – 500
Jalapeño reference point: 5 to 8,000 times milder
Origin: South America
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It comes as no surprise how the banana pepper got its name. Its long curved shape and yellowish hue resembles the fruit from which its named. These are mild and tangy chilies, perfect for pickling and tasty in salads and sandwiches.

While its shape and color helps make banana peppers easier to recognize than many other chilies, there’s actually a lot of culinary confusion surrounding them. Both pepperoncini and the much hotter Hungarian wax pepper share similar profiles, and they are often mistaken for one another in supermarkets and restaurants. That can lead to more spice than you expect!

Hot hot are banana peppers?

There are few chilies that are milder. With a Scoville heat unit range from 0 to 500 SHU, they fall in line with pimento and pepperoncini peppers. In fact, they can even dip down all the way down to the zero heat of a bell pepper. This makes banana peppers at least 5 times milder than a jalapeño, with the potential – like bell peppers – to be completely lapped in overall heat.

Given that, let’s compare middles. A banana pepper that fell into the middle of its potential heat range would typically be about 21 times milder than a middle-range jalapeño.

What do they look like and taste like?

In shape and color, the banana pepper does a solid impersonation of the popular tropical fruit. They grow to two to three inches in length, and their curved shape immediately resembles a banana. Their color starts green and matures typically to a greenish yellow or full yellow, again like a banana. They can, though, take on orange or even red hues as they mature.

Like the pepperoncini pepper, banana peppers have a tang to them, but there’s a sweetness there too. It’s a hard chili not to love the flavor of, especially when pickled.

Are banana peppers the same as pepperoncini or Hungarian wax peppers?

Here’s the core confusion with banana peppers, and you’ll see it occur in online forums, restaurants, and even supermarkets. All three look a lot alike and they all come from the same species of chili (capsicum annuum), but they aren’t the same. Adding to the confusion, banana peppers are also known as yellow wax peppers and Hungarian wax peppers are also referred to as hot banana peppers. Obviously, there’s a lot of mistaken identity.

Pepperoncini peppers share a similar heat level (100 – 500 SHU), but are typically slightly spicier and tangier. Hungarian wax peppers are playing on a different field altogether. They are medium heat chilies (5,000 to 10,000 SHU), which makes them normally hotter than jalapeños. They can reach serrano pepper level heat. They are also larger, often reaching six inches in length.

All three are terrific pickled, and when chopped into rings they all make great sandwich, salad, or pizza toppings. When chopped, it’s nearly impossible to identify the difference between these three, and a lot of mislabeling occurs in restaurants and sandwich shops because of it. Even supermarkets that sell fresh versions of these chilies often mislabel the three. They sometimes also get jumbled together in the refrigerated aisle, so you may think you’re getting a banana pepper when in reality you picked up a small Hungarian wax.

This has led to a lot of heat level confusion about the banana pepper. People often think they are spicier than they really are. The simple reason: They didn’t eat a banana pepper.

How are banana peppers used?

As mentioned – fresh or pickled, these are terrific sandwich, salad, and pizza toppers. Stuffed banana peppers are also popular due to the relatively thick walls of this chili. It’s a great alternative to the bell or poblano for stuffed pepper dishes. If you’re looking for a milder alternative to a cheese-filled jalapeño popper, banana pepper poppers can be a nice alternative too. Deep-fried banana peppers are also very popular in the Southern United States. They make an excellent barbecue or fried chicken side.

And, like other chilies, banana peppers are excellent chopped for salsas and pureed for hot sauces. Of course, your end result will be very mild, but as an alternative to bell peppers in a salsa, they can add a tiny hint of heat.

Where can you buy banana peppers?

Even with the pepperoncini/Hungarian wax confusion, these are some of the most common chilies you’ll find in stores. Many supermarkets carry them fresh in the produce section, and pickled banana peppers are common in the condiment/topping section. Online you’ll find a wide variety of pickled banana pepper rings and, for those with a green thumb, banana pepper seeds for the garden.

The banana pepper is so mild that it’s just a tick on the Scoville scale, but there’s a lot of flavor hear to explore. If you’re not an adventurous eater, this is an excellent bell pepper alternative to provide an ever-so-slight hint of heat. And kids and adults alike love them as pickled toppings. Keep a jar around to liven up the everyday sandwiches and salads you make.

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When To Pick Banana Peppers

So, you planted your first banana peppers. You cured them throughout the summer, dreaming about tasting their sweet or hot flavor and now that the fruits are almost ripe you’re wondering when to pick banana peppers.

I admit it, banana peppers are one of my favorite pepper varieties. I like them sweet just as much as I like them hot, and I love all of their colors: yellow, light green, orange and red.

The only problem I have with banana peppers is the fact that their skin color is not an indicator of their maturity. Therefore, understanding when is the right time to harvest might be a little tricky.

But there is nothing you should worry about. I’ll tell you when to pick banana peppers and how to figure out if they are ripe or not, so stay tuned!

Like many pepper varieties, banana peppers reach their maturity after about 70 to 75 days after germinating. The real maturation time will obviously depend on the climatic conditions, type of soil they grow in and other less important factors, but this average time will help you monitor the status of the fruits.

Because there are slight growing differences between the two varieties of banana peppers, I believe that it is better to discuss each type separately.

When To Pick Sweet Banana Peppers

Sweet banana peppers usually reach 4 to 6 inches in length at maturity. The length of the fruit can be an indicator of their maturity, but remember that the composition of the soil and the overall growing conditions can influence the final size.

Sweet banana peppers are usually ripe when their color turns yellow and they are close to the average length. And here comes the beautiful part: at this stage, you can decide if you want to pick the peppers or leave them to continue their maturation.

In fact, banana peppers will not turn inedible when overripe, they will actually become sweeter and their skin will turn from yellow to red.

To harvest the peppers, wait until the morning dew dries out, then, with the help of garden shears or scissors, cut the peppers leaving about a quarter of an inch of the stem attached to the fruit.

When To Pick Hot Banana Peppers

Hot banana peppers are usually larger than their sweet cousins and reach an average of 6 inches in length. Just as for the sweet variety, the yellow color of the skin is an indicator of maturity, but this color doesn’t mean that you have to pick them right away.

If you prefer mild hot peppers, then it would be a good idea to harvest them as soon as you notice that the fruits are yellow and the length is more or less average. On the contrary, if you like really hot peppers, you can wait until the fruits turn red.

Hot banana peppers can be simply pull off the plant. Nevertheless, you should pay attention to not damage the plant when harvesting, therefore you should support the plant with one hand and grasp the peppers with the other.

To minimize the damage, you can use the same harvesting method described for the sweet variety.

How To Store Banana Peppers

Like almost all the other vegetables out there, banana peppers are usually tastier when fresh. For this reason, you should grow the number of banana pepper plants that produce enough fruits for you to consume immediately after harvest.

Since this is a tricky issue, sometimes you might face the need of preserving your peppers somehow.

If you intend to use the peppers as quickly as possible after harvest, you can store them in the vegetable drawer in your fridge for up to two weeks. Of course, you should only store the peppers that are healthy and don’t present any bruises or rotting signs on their skins.

If you want to preserve the banana peppers for a longer time, there are several options to choose from.

1. Pickle the banana peppers: a method especially used for the hot variety.

2. Freeze the peppers: cut them in halves, put them in freezer bags and freeze them for up to six months.

3. Dry the banana peppers: drying the peppers is easy, then you can use them to cook several dishes.

Final Thoughts

And now you finally know when to pick banana peppers. What is your preferred variety? What is your favorite preservation method? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

What preparation is done to banana peppers?

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Why Are My Banana Peppers Turning Brown: Fixing Brown Banana Pepper Plants

Peppers come in a range of sizes, colors and heat levels. Some, like the banana pepper, is a bit more on the sweet size and is delicious grilled or eaten raw or pickled. As with any pepper variety, you may encounter problems growing banana peppers. Perhaps, you are waiting with baited breath to harvest the first sweet pepper but suddenly notice brown banana pepper plants or fruit. Why are my banana peppers turning brown, you wonder. Is there anything that can be done about brown banana pepper plants? Let’s learn more.

Why are My Banana Peppers Turning Brown?

There is a difference between the fruit turning brown and the plant turning brown, first of all.

When Banana Peppers Turn Brown

A common affliction of peppers, as well as tomatoes and eggplant, is called blossom end rot or BER. This happened to me in my container grown peppers, which were otherwise gloriously healthy and abundant until one day I noticed a dark lesion at the blossom end of some developing fruit. I didn’t really think anything of it at first until a few days later when I noticed quite a few more with the problem, and the brown areas were getting larger, sunken, black and leathery.

This disorder is very common and, in commercial crops, can be extremely disastrous, with losses of 50% or greater. If your banana peppers turn brown at the blossom end, it is almost certainly BER. On occasion, the lesion might be mistaken for sunscald, but sunscald is actually whiter in color. BER will be brown to dark brown, on the sides of the pepper near the blossom end.

BER is not caused by a parasite or pathogen. It is related to insufficient calcium uptake in the fruit. Calcium is needed for normal cell growth and, when lacking in the fruit, results in tissue breakdown. Low calcium levels in the soil or stresses, such as drought or inconsistent irrigation, can affect the uptake of calcium, causing BER.

To combat BER, keep the soil pH about 6.5. The addition of lime will add calcium and stabilize the soil pH. Don’t use ammonia rich nitrogen fertilizer, which can reduce calcium intake. Instead, use nitrate nitrogen. Avoid drought stress and huge swings in soil moisture. Mulch around the plants to retain moisture and water as needed – one inch per week of irrigation, depending upon temperatures. If you are going through a heat wave, plants may need additional water.

Brown Banana Pepper Plants

Brown banana pepper plants are a different problem when growing pepper plants. The cause is most likely a fungal disease called Phytophthora. It afflicts pumpkins, tomatoes, eggplants and squash as well as peppers. In the case of peppers, Phythophthora capsici fungus attacks and can persist in the garden for up to 10 years in the right conditions.

The symptoms are sudden wilting of the plant, which can’t be reparated with additional irrigation. At the crown and stem, dark lesions appear. Sometimes the fungus also targets fruit, spotting it with white, spongy mold.

This fungus overwinters in the soil and as spring soil temperatures rise, and rain and wind increase, the spores mobilize to plants, infecting the root systems or wet foliage. Phytophthora thrives in soil temps above 65 degrees F. (18 C.) along with plentiful rain and 75-85 degree F. (23-29 C.) weather.

Cultural controls are your best bet combating Phytophthora.

  • Plant peppers in raised beds with excellent drainage and water using a drip irrigation system. Also, water the plants in the early morning and don’t overwater them.
  • Rotate banana pepper crops with Phytophthora resistant crops and avoid planting tomatoes, squash or other peppers.
  • Also, sanitize tools in a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water to avoid spreading this or any fungal disease.

Lastly, banana peppers will go from yellow to orange and eventually to a bright red if left long enough on the plant. So what you might be viewing as browning on the pepper might just be the next shift in color from a bit of purplish-brown changing into the final fire engine red. If the pepper doesn’t smell, isn’t moldy or mushy, chances are that this is the case and the pepper is perfectly safe to eat.

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