The Jalapeno pepper has been a staple chile pepper in culinary dishes worldwide for hundreds of years. The first known use of the pepper was by the Aztecs in the Veracruz, Mexico region. Americans in the Southwestern part of the United States have been recorded using the jalapeno pepper for hundreds of years since the earliest settlers arrived.
A member of the capsaicin annuum family is a hardy plant that can survive a range of different soil and climates. With no close sisters, the jalapeno pepper’s nearest plant relative is the serrano pepper.
In modern history, jalapeno peppers have been cultivated and grown for multiple different uses in foods. Jalapeno peppers can be found in soups, sauces, jellies, jams, and even candy! Let’s read on to discover more about how and when to harvest your jalapeno pepper crops.
When to Harvest Jalapeno Peppers
The jalapeno pepper, a spicy green chile with an elevated heat profile, has been grown and harvested by farmers and enthusiasts throughout the world. In order for the perfect jalapeno pepper to grow, it needs 72 full summer days without frost for the plant to reach maturity.
The easiest way to see if your jalapeno peppers are ready for harvesting is to simply look at them. When fully ready to harvest, the jalapeno pepper will have a deep green color all over. During the prime harvesting time, the jalapeno pepper will develop thin cracks along its skin. This is the exact time in which the jalapeno pepper is ready to be picked from the vine.
When harvesting your jalapeno peppers, keep in mind that not all peppers on the same plant will be ready at the same time. Therefore it is important to check daily once the harvesting season is nearing to ensure harvesting of the peppers at the most opportune time.
When to Harvest Jalapeno Peppers for Drying
Having an abundant harvest can be wasteful if you are unsure of how to preserve jalapeno peppers for long-term storage. Dehydrating or drying your chile peppers is a great way to keep the peppers long term so that your crops don’t go to waste.
If you’re looking to harvest your jalapeno peppers for drying, you’ll want to leave the peppers on the vine long enough to go from their signature dark green color to a dark red. This will kick up the pepper’s flavor and heat profile and help create long-term shelf stability.
Can You Harvest Jalapeno Peppers When They Are Green?
Yes! Most pepper connoisseurs will tell you that you should always harvest your jalapeno peppers when they are green. In fact, deep green is the color you will find most appetizing in your dishes.
If there is a time when you have mistakenly picked a jalapeno pepper that isn’t quite ripe enough, you can leave it on a south-facing window, and it will ripen over time. Check on your pepper in 2 to 3 days and see if it is ready to eat.
A note to remember about harvesting green jalapeno peppers is that while ideally, you should harvest them when they are green, leaving them to turn a red or almost black color will boost the heat profile throughout the pepper. Harvesting green jalapenos is an excellent way to serve dishes with pepper to those who may find the spice too uncomfortable for their taste buds.
How to Harvest Jalapeno Peppers
The first step to harvesting jalapeno peppers is to check to confirm that they are ready to pick. Check the coloration and lines along the pepper to ensure it is ripe.
Use one hand to pick the pepper while holding the remaining plant with your other hand. You’ll want to avoid jostling the plant too much while picking. Pull the pepper upwards to decrease damage to the plant.
The jalapeno pepper should be removed easily with a popping sound. Try to avoid twisting and turning the pepper when you are picking it. This is another way to avoid damaging the plant.
Wash your harvested jalapenos thoroughly. Use a soft vegetable brush to remove any stuck-on dirt and debris.
How to Preserve Jalapeno Peppers After Harvesting
Depending on the variety of jalapeno peppers you are growing, your plant could yield 30 to 40 peppers in a single growing season. If you don’t think you will eat that many, you should look to different ways of preserving them.
Using jalapeno peppers to make jams and jellies is an easy way to preserve your harvest throughout the year. Jalapeno pepper jelly made from this recipe is shelf-stable and can last for years while the seal is intact.
Canning jars of fresh jalapeno peppers is another great way to preserve your harvest for quite some time. Canning jars with seals and lids and hot boiling water is all you need to can your jalapeno peppers. Using this method will keep your peppers’ shelf fresh for up to one year.
Can You Eat Jalapenos When They Are Green?
Yes, you can eat green jalapeno peppers, and in fact, it is encouraged! The deep green color with white lines is the easiest way to tell if your jalapeno peppers are ripe to eat. You want to wait for the light green from baby jalapeno peppers to turn to dark and rich green.
How Spicy Are Jalapeno Peppers?
The Scoville scale, which measures the pungency of chili peppers in Scoville Heat Units (SHU), puts the jalapeno pepper between 2,500 and 8,000. Jalapeno peppers, while spicy, are not relatively super hot. Compare the jalapeno to its cousins, the cayenne pepper at 50,000 SHU and habanero at 100,000 SHU, and you can see how it is safe for even the kids to consume safely.