Banana peppers are a fantastic vegetable to grow at home! Question is, do you know when to pick banana peppers? All you need is a warm, sunny spot in your garden or on your balcony, and your peppers will thrive.
Now that your crop is growing, you’re probably wondering when are banana peppers ripe? Here’s a useful guide on when to pick banana peppers to get the best, tastiest results!
Growing Banana Peppers at Home
There are two main varieties of banana pepper – a mild, sweet variety and a hot, spicy one. Both of them like plenty of sun and a warm environment, and both do well as container plants or in garden beds.
For the best results in terms of flavor, it is important to wait until the peppers are ripe before harvesting them.
List of Sweet Banana Peppers
Sweet banana peppers are the most common and most-loved variety. They are rich in fiber, vitamin A and C, and beta-carotene – and they’re really tasty!
There are a few great varieties you can choose from:
This plant grows to a height of 8 inches with peppers ripening earlier than other varieties at about 60-70 days from germination.
These large, meaty peppers are great for stuffing or pickling, and are best eaten when they are yellow or red.
You can pick them and leave them out on the counter to ripen more for a day or two, but they are best eaten on the same day they are harvested.
Also known as the Italian frying pepper, have a mild to moderate heat. They can be eaten while green or left to mature into yellows and deep reds – the longer you leave them, the more intense the flavor.
The peppers are mature and ready to be harvested when they 4-6 inches long, the skin is glossy, and the pepper is smooth and firm.
They are wonderful additions to salads, pasta and pizza, and can also be pickled or canned.
Also known as Chinese Five Color, is a smaller, ornamental pepper that is thought to be a heirloom variety from China.
They are more like bell peppers in terms of heat (very mild), with the peppers maturing to beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red from purple and cream.
It’s a great pepper for families, for people who want a sweeter rather than spicy pepper, and for adding striking color to your garden.
They are great for using in salads, as garnishes, in dressings and in sauces.
List of Hot Banana Peppers
Hot banana peppers are the spicier variety, and some pack quite the punch! There are a few great varieties of hot banana pepper to look for:
Hot Banana Pepper
This is a European variety also known as a Hungarian pepper that is considered mild for a hot pepper. The fruit is ready to be harvested when it is 6-8 inches long and yellow in color.
This takes up to 85 days from germination. The peppers can reach about 5,000 Scoville units.
Cuzquerio Banana Pepper
Originating in Peru, this banana pepper produces large yields of long, thin peppers that ripen from green into yellow/orange then red.
The flavor is most intense in the red fruit, with a mild to hot burn. It’s a great choice for pickling, salsas, dressings and pizzas.
These slightly spicier banana peppers are ideal for people who like a bit of heat to go along with that sweet pepper flavor.
How to Grow Banana Peppers
- Choose a sunny spot and plant in spring when the weather is warming up. They prefer a temperature of 60-90 degrees Fahrenheit and do well in zones 9-11, although they do well in cooler zones as an annual.
- Plant in your garden or in a container of good quality, well-draining potting soil.
- Fertilize with a liquid or granular fertilizer. This should be a low nitrogen fertilizer, or you may see a lot more leave growth than fruit.
Choose a 5-10-5 or 10-20-10 fertilizer for best results.
- Water regularly to keep the soil moist. Don’t let it get waterlogged.
- When your plant starts producing peppers, the branches can get weighed down.
You can tie branches to a wooden stake using soft material to provide them with support and keep the peppers from touching the soil.
Aphids can be washed off the plant gently using a mix of dishwashing soap and water or insecticidal soap.
You can also prevent diseases by watering the soil rather than the leaves and by using seeds that are resistant to disease from growers that are reputable.
When to Pick Banana Peppers
Typically, banana peppers will take 70 to 75 days from germination before they reach their full size. This depends on the environment and weather, which can impact growth.
For instance, if the weather is too cool or there is a drought, the growing progress of the peppers can slow down.
That’s why it’s important to check the peppers before picking them because there are some that may mature quickly, while there are some that will take a lot longer.
Banana peppers are considered to be mature when the peppers reach full size (4-8 inches long and curved) and have firm skins. You can harvest them when they are yellow or wait until they are a deep red.
Peppers can be eaten when they are yellow, orange or red, and the darker the color the more intense the flavor and heat.
Regularly picking peppers is important because it stimulates the plant to produce more, ensuring you get a good harvest over the summer.
Banana Peppers FAQs
Can You Eat Banana Peppers Raw?
Absolutely! Give them a good rinse with water and add them to salads, dressings and sprinkle onto pizza and pasta for a lovely, fresh crunch.
The acidity in the peppers are a great addition to creamy sauces and coleslaw and potato salad. You can use pickled banana peppers the same way.
Are Hot Banana Peppers Good for You?
Banana peppers have a lot of good nutrients in them like dietary fiber, beta-carotene and vitamins A and C. They have low calories and are a great source of potassium and magnesium.
Capsaicin is a natural anti-inflammatory found in hot peppers (that’s what gives you the burn!) that has plenty of health benefits, relieving pain, cluster headaches and helping with joint issues like arthritis.
How Do You Store Banana Peppers From the Garden?
You can store banana peppers on the countertop for a week or so where they will ripen further. If they are fully ripe, you can keep them for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
You can also freeze banana peppers by washing them in water, drying them, slicing them and storing them in an airtight container, freezer bags or aluminum foil.
How Often Should You Water Banana Peppers?
These plants do like regular watering, especially if they are in a hot, sunny spot. Water them thoroughly at least once a week and more often if it is especially hot or if you are growing them in containers.
Check the first inch of soil – if it’s dry, you need to water. However, the soil should drain well, and the plant must not sit in water.
Is There a Difference Between Banana Peppers and Pepperoncini?
The main difference is in the taste. While banana peppers are mild and sweet with a tangy aftertaste, pepperoncini tend to have a mild and sweet but slightly bitter taste.
Banana Peppers Time Lapse
The key to determining when to pick banana peppers is all about the color (and your personal preferences!). This time lapse is a good guide to help you decide when to pick banana peppers.
Generally, the longer you leave a banana pepper, the more intense the flavor and spiciness. This is usually when the pepper is full yellow (in the case of hot banana peppers/Hungarian peppers) or a deep red.
Remember, it’s also about what taste you want to achieve, so try your banana peppers at different colors and see what you like best.
Now You Know How to Grow and When to Pick Banana Peppers!
As you can see, it’s all about the color and size of the fruit. They’re ready to be eaten when they are fully yellow in color, whether you want to serve them raw, cooked in a chili or casserole, or pickled.
If you want a more intense flavor and a bit more heat, wait until they turn red and pick them when the skin is firm and smooth for the best results.
Now you know how to grow and when to pick banana peppers!