This season, Banana Peppers is an excellent choice for you to plant in your garden. Although mistaken for vegetables, the chilies get their name because they look like bananas. They have many uses; such as in pizza topping and salads, offering more reasons for you to consider this plant for your garden.
To make the most out of them, you want to pick them at the perfect time. But how do you know if the banana peppers are ready for collection? Let’s find answers to when to pick banana peppers, what factors might affect the perfect time, and how to care for them properly.
How to Care for Banana Peppers?
Before we dive into when to pick banana peppers, let’s first see how to care for them. Like any other plant, banana peppers need proper care and attention. Be on a constant lookout for weeds as they offer your plant competition in terms of space and nutrition. Keep the soil evenly damp to ensure proper growth of the peppers. Take advantage of mulch around the plant to help keep the moisture and drive out the weed population.
Another good way to care for banana peppers is to keep the garden clear of any insects harmful to these. Common of these insects are cutworms, thrips, flea beetles, and aphids. You can repel most flying insects with soap spray and crawling pests by wrapping toilet paper collars around young plants.
Furthermore, make sure you avoid plant diseases by keeping them hydrated and avoiding overhead watering. For this purpose, use disease-resistant seeds and proper soil preparation.
When to Pick Banana Pepper?
Like many other peppers, it takes up to 75 days to reach their maturity after planting them. There are two types; sweet banana pepper and hot banana pepper. When to pick banana peppers might vary across these varieties.
However, the following factors broadly determine when to pick banana peppers.
Time is the first factor that determines when you should harvest the banana peppers. The best time of the year to harvest is the fall, so try planting them in summer.
The banana peppers take around 70-75 days to become ripe. Therefore, the time when to pick banana peppers depends on the plantation date. However, keep in mind that your peppers might mature slowly or faster, depending on a couple of factors. These include the quality of the soil and the temperature.
Knowing when to pick banana peppers in the day is also crucial. The optimum time to collect them is after the morning dew. The best time to harvest is when they are dry, and the time after morning dew helps achieve that. Picking the peppers when they are wet could lead to scratching, causing them disease and pathogens.
Color is the second factor that determines when to pick banana peppers. Sweet and hot banana peppers show the same color when they are ready for harvesting – they turn yellow. However, give the peppers more time to turn red if you want the hot pepper to taste more heated and sweet pepper sweeter.
The color you want to pick the banana peppers at depends on your preferences. You can also harvest them when they show a combination of yellow and red to suit your taste buds.
When to pick banana peppers also depends upon the softness. You must harvest the peppers when they have a soft and squishy feel to them. Before picking the peppers, prod them with your hands gently to see if they offer a smooth and soft feel.
The last thing you must consider while deciding when to pick banana peppers is their size. Size can be the most decisive factor. You can make out if they are ready for collection by looking at them.
When ripe, hot banana pepper has a length of up to 8 inches and a width of up to 2 inches. Similarly, sweet banana peppers grow to a length of 6 inches and a width of 2 inches when they are ready for collection.
So, now we know the major factors that influence and help us understand when to pick banana peppers. Let’s have a look at when to pick hot and sweet banana peppers separately in detail.
When to Pick Hot Banana Peppers?
Hot banana peppers take a larger form than sweet banana peppers. As said before, when hot banana peppers turn yellow, it means they’re mature. However, you don’t have to pick them right away upon turning yellow – waiting for them to turn red can strengthen the taste.
You can pick the hot banana pepper when they turn yellow if you prefer mild hot peppers. But if you’re a fan of really hot peppers, wait for them to turn red. You can simply pull off the hot banana pepper from the plant. However, be sure not to put too much strain on the plant while picking the pepper to avoid damaging them.
When to Pick Sweet Banana Peppers?
Although sweet banana peppers have a length of up to 6 inches at maturity, they can vary in size. The size depends upon the condition they’re growing in, and the composition and quality of the soil. Like hot banana peppers, the color yellow indicates that sweet banana peppers are ripe for harvesting.
Nonetheless, you can leave them for some period after maturity. Sweet banana peppers do not become inedible when they’re overripe – In fact, they become sweeter. You’ll also notice their color changing from yellow to red. In this case, when to pick banana peppers depends upon your taste and preference for sweetness.
How to Pick Banana Peppers?
Now that you’re familiar with when to pick banana peppers, let’s move on to how to pick them when they’re ready. The first step into picking banana peppers is to ensure they’re ripe. Checking their color will do the trick, but it should not be your last analysis. Inspect the plant to see if any of the peppers are rotten, or carry soft spots. Upon finding such peppers, remove them immediately from the plant to reduce the chance of infecting the other peppers. In the end, you don’t want to end up eating a rotten pepper.
How to pick banana peppers depends upon whether you’re picking hot or sweet banana peppers. Let’s look at the procedure to pick both of them.
1-) Picking Hot Banana Peppers
Picking hot banana peppers is relatively simpler than sweet types because you don’t need any tools. The initial step is to use one of your hands to move the plant gently to the side to present the pepper you want to pick. The next step is to use the other hand, reach the end of the pepper’s stem, and snap it off the plant. One indicator of whether the pepper is ready for harvesting is that it will snap easily.
2-) Picking Sweet Banana Peppers
Harvesting the sweet banana peppers is trickier than hot ones, and they require tools. The initial step is similar, as you have to push the plant gently aside to expose the pepper you’re going to pick. Moreover, you must wait for the morning dew to dry before moving on. The next step is to rub the pepper you’re going to pick with alcohol to disinfect it. Once done, you need garden scissors to cut the pepper’s stem a quarter inch from the plant to harvest it.
Once you’ve picked hot and sweet banana peppers, cleanse them in a bucket of water. We are sure you now have comprehended how and when to pick banana peppers. The next thing you need to worry about is how to store the harvested banana peppers.
How to Store Banana Peppers?
After knowing when to pick banana peppers, now it’s time to understand how to store them. Banana Peppers are tastier when they are fresh. For this reason, you must always grow the number of peppers you will consume immediately. However, that’s not always the case and you might end up needing to preserve banana peppers anyhow.
After recently harvesting the peppers, you can store them in the vegetable drawer in your fridge. It will keep them fresh for consumption for up to two weeks. Make sure you don’t store any rotten or soft spot-carrying peppers in the drawer. The reason is they hold the risk of spoiling other peppers as well.
However, you can also preserve banana peppers for a longer duration. You may choose from the following methods to store banana peppers for more than two weeks:
1-) Dry the banana peppers; it’s easy to do. You can later use the dried peppers in different dishes.
2-) You can pickle the banana peppers. It is an efficient trick to preserve banana peppers and complements well with various dishes. However, it’s more effective with hot banana peppers only.
3-) Freeze the banana peppers. You can cut the peppers in halves and stuff them in freezer bags. You can later retrieve them and use them in your dishes. Freezing can store the banana peppers for up to six months.
Like any other plant, banana peppers need proper time and dedication to grow properly. However, you should know exactly when to pick banana peppers to make the most out of their taste in dishes. Ensure to store the banana peppers properly after harvesting to keep them fresh for consumption!