Are your habanero peppers ripe and ready to pick? Knowing when they are ripe is key to enjoying a full harvest. There are so many different types of peppers, but you can still follow some general rules for knowing when it is time to pick your peppers.
General rules for determining if a pepper is ripe and ready to pick
Good idea: Review the plant information or seed packet information from your place of purchase. This will include details of how your peppers should look, including size and color, and should also include approximate days to maturity. Normally, peppers are ready to pick 75-90 days from planting.
Are my habanero peppers ripe and ready to pick?
Habanero peppers typically turn bright orange or red when fully mature. They are 1 to 2.5 inches long and get hotter as they mature to their final orange or red color.
How to harvest your habanero peppers
Use a knife or garden clippers to remove peppers from the plant to prevent any damage to the plant. You'll also want to consider protecting your hands when picking hot peppers. The oils can irritate sensitive skin and you'll also want to be sure to wash your hands before touching your face or your eyes so any residual pepper oil doesn't burn your eyes.
You'll also want to make sure to harvest habanero peppers when the plants are dry to avoid inadvertently spreading disease. This is important to remember even if you can't see any signs of disease.
General Notes on Harvesting habanero Peppers
When peppers are done growing they will pull off the plant very easily. If they don't come off easily they are still growing. Sometimes tiny brown lines will form on the peppers. These are growth lines and indicate the pepper is done growing. If these lines are forming, pick the pepper regardless of it's size. If for any reason a pepper is picked before it is ripe, you can place it on a south-facing windowsill until it is changes to the proper color and ripens.
The more habanero peppers you pick the more will harvest so pick peppers often as soon as they are ripe to continue your harvest growing.
No matter what type of pepper, they do not like weather that is too cold. If there is fear of frost, you can cover it at night and uncover it in the morning. Weather.com has a garden area that tells you the risk of frost and the freeze risk. Do not go by frost risk, but instead go by freeze risk. If there is a chance of freezing, the plants will not survive.
I’d suggest picking every pepper prior to any freeze risk or prior to it getting around 35 degrees at night. If the temperature drops lower than this the plant will die and the peppers will shrivel and die. Tomatoes are only slightly different. Most of the tomatoes can still be picked even after the plant has died. Then they can finish ripening on the window sill in the sun.
Store the peppers in a clear bag in your refrigerator's crisper drawer for up to two weeks.
If you aren't able to eat your peppers within two weeks, there are many ways you can preserve them for continued use all year long.