Growing Jalapeño Pepper can be easy, but the task to pick it off the plant at the right time and correctly is crucial to ensure optimal flavor, heat, and quality.
However, remember to handle them with precaution to prevent burning your skin.
Read on to find the correct way to pick, collect, store, and use the spicy Jalapeño Pepper off the plant.
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When To Pick a Jalapeño Pepper?
Did you know the Columbian space shuttle took Jalapeñeo Pepper on board in the 1980s, making them the only Chili Pepper to have left Earth?
Nonetheless, Jalapeños are a favorite spice preferred by gardeners living in warm regions because they are easy to grow and take hardly 2-3 months before harvesting.
Therefore, you should check for tell-tale signs before picking these Peppers from the vine.
1. Planting Duration
Almost every Jalapeño Pepper variety is ready for harvest 60 to 80 days from planting.
Set yourself a reminder by marking your calendar for the harvest date in advance. The exact day of harvest will depend on the appearance of the Pepper.
2. Maturity and Color
Some Jalapeños ripen earlier than others; hence, assessing whether the fruiting has matured is crucial.
Check whether the Pepper has deep, glossy green color, which indicates maturity. Some varieties may turn red when fully ripe.
Leave the Peppers with pale green color for a week to two, as they lack the desired heat and flavor.
3. Fruit Size
Mature Jalapeño Peppers reach a whopping 2 to 3.5 inches (5-9 cm) in length when ready to be picked.
Wait for these large varieties to reach their desired size before picking them.
4. Firmness of Fruit
Remember, mature Jalapeño Peppers are firm and plump to the touch but squishy.
Soft or wrinkled Peppers may indicate overripe fruit, while hard ones are yet to ripen.
How Do You Pick Jalapeños From a Plant?
Pick the Jalapeño Pepper off the plant regularly to promote vigorous growth and prevent the plant from becoming burdened with fruits.
However, you should handle it with precaution, especially spicier red ones, to protect your skin, mouth, and eyes from the heat-causing compound capsaicin.
Here is how you can safely pick these fruits from the vine.
- Inspect the fruit: Check whether the fruit has reached the desired size and color; deep, glossy green, or red.
- Wear Gloves: Picking green ones with bare hands is safe, but red varieties may require gloves to protect your skin from capsaicin compounds.
- Position and Cut: Hold the Pepper with one hand and position the scissors or shears just above the calyx, which connects the fruit to the stem. Make a clean snip to avoid damaging the plant.
Alternatively, gently twist the fruit off the plant using your fingers if you do not have any sharp tools at the moment.
Continue removing all the mature Peppers from the vine, and remember to remove the Jalapeño Peppers as they mature.
However, be precise to avoid damaging the stem, which may prevent future fruiting.
What to Do With Jalapeños After Picking?
Your Jalapeño plant will produce 25 to 35 Peppers from summer until fall.
Hence, some vines will produce harvests twice a year, given that the soil condition, lighting, and temperature are optimal.
Inspect for Quality
- Examine each Pepper for signs of damage or disease, pests, or decay.
- Discard any produce that appears spoiled, wrinkled, or discolored.
- Soft or mushy Peppers may be overripe or spoiled; you can use or discard them entirely.
Store the Harvested Peppers
You are less likely to use all the produce simultaneously; therefore, storing them properly to maintain freshness and flavor is a good idea.
- Place the freshly picked Jalapeño Peppers in a container or basket away from direct sunlight.
- Alternatively, store them in a cool, dry place or refrigerator for use within a few days.
- For long-term storage, you can choose to dry or pickle them: Dried Jalapeños (Chipotle Peppers) add a smoky flavor to dishes and can be stored for months, while pickled Jalapeños work great as a condiment for regular meals.
- Slice the Jalapeños and add them to pickling brine using vinegar, water, salt, and desired spices. Seal the jar and leave it inside the refrigerator.
- Let them out in the sun to dry naturally, covered with a steel or plastic mesh to avoid pests from eating them. Otherwise, use a dehydrator or oven to dry the produce.
From Editorial Team
Remember to wash your hands thoroughly and avoid touching your face or eyes after handling Jalapeños.
To ensure a good Jalapeño harvest, provide these Peppers vines with a temperature between 70-90°F, 6 hours of full sun, and consistently moist, organically rich soil.
Most importantly, pick Jalapeño Pepper off the Plant when it’s time to redirect the plant’s energy toward new fruiting.