It’s that time of the year. Your chili pepper plants are probably ready for harvest. If your chili peppers live indoors year-round, the timing might vary slightly, but this is generally when your peppers are ready for the plucking.
What Should You Know about Harvesting Chili Peppers
For a start, ripe chilies should come off the plant easily. Just a little turn should remove them from the plant quickly. If a chili doesn’t come off without giving you some trouble, you might want to leave it to ripen further.
After you pull the fruit from the plant, it will start to blossom and grow again. If you move your chili pepper plants indoors for the long cold months, you should plan to do it after your major harvest.
Honestly, it’s just about that simple. Getting your peppers to grow was likely the hardest part of your chili obsession. Now, you’ll need to worry about something else…
What Will You Do with All Those Chili Peppers?
If you have just one or two small chili plants, you can probably work your way through the fruit without too much delay. (At least we can.) But, anyone with a sizeable chili crop will inevitably be wondering what to do with the rest of those fruits.
We’ve got some ideas.
• Oven or Air Drying – Drying your peppers will preserve them for a remarkably long time. There are a few ways to do this. The easier and faster option involves slicing the peppers open, laying them on a tray, and placing them in the oven. Your oven should be set to the lowest possible heat, and you can start checking your tray after an hour. To air-dry your chilies, you should string them up by threading them on a string that runs through the stem, not through the flesh of your chilies. Hang this string in a sun-filled airy room until they’re dry and ready.
• Freeze Your Chilies – You can also freeze your chilies to use at some later stage. This is easier than you think it would be. Simply lay your chilies (avoiding the bruised ones) in a freezer-safe container with paper towels between the layers. Freeze and remove as needed. If you feel the need to chop or otherwise prepare your chilies before freezing, you will need to lay them out on a tray to freeze before storing them in a bag or other container. If you skip this step, your chopped chilies will stick to each other once frozen.
• Retain Those Seeds – If you have an especially lovely chili pepper plant, you might want to try growing a few more next years. Open a chili or two and gently scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Store them in a cool, dry area until you’re ready to plant (about January).
So what are you waiting for? Chili harvest time is the best time! Or, at least the hottest.