Habaneros are one of the hottest chili peppers around, so if you’re looking to add some serious spice to your dish, they’re a great choice. I’ve been growing habaneros in my garden for years, and I’ve learned a thing or two about how to pick them.
Growing and handling habaneros can be a bit tricky, but with a little know-how, you’ll be a pro in no time. I will guide you through the most important tips on how to tell when to pick habaneros and how to harvest them, so you can enjoy their fiery flavor in your cooking.
Here are the 2 essential questions covered in this article:
When To Pick Habanero Peppers
In the best-case scenario, you know what kind of Habanero pepper you’ve planted. There are different types of Habanero peppers, and they can have slightly different growth patterns. If you still have the seed packet or plant tag, it should tell you what kind of Habanero you have and what the ideal picking time is.
If you don’t know what kind of Habanero you have, or if the plant tag is long gone, don’t worry. You can tell a lot by just looking at the peppers and following the general rule of thumb that Habaneros are ready to pick on average 3-4 months (90-120 days) after transplanting them.
Here are the 4 main things to look for when trying to determine if your Habaneros are ready to pick:
- The peppers have fully turned from green to their mature color. For example, orange Habaneros will turn orange when they’re ripe, and red Habaneros will turn red.
- The peppers should be firm to the touch. If they’re still quite soft, they’re not quite ready yet.
- The peppers have stopped growing. Habaneros usually reach 1-3 inches.
- At least 3 months have passed since they have been transplanted.
While these are the general guidelines on how to spot a ripe Habanero, there can be some variation depending on the type of Habanero you have.
For example, some varieties mature faster than others, so they may be ready to pick sooner. A lot can also depend on the conditions they were grown in. If it was a particularly hot summer or the soil is particularly fertile, the peppers may mature faster.
Here are a couple of questions you might have about picking Habanero peppers:
Can I pick green habaneros before they’re fully ripe?
Yes, you can pick Habanero peppers before they’re fully ripe, but they won’t be as hot. Green habaneros are perfectly safe to eat, but they won’t pack the same punch as their ripe counterparts. They are great in salsa or other dishes where you want a little bit of spice but not the full habanero heat.
However, if you want the full flavor and spice of the Habanero, it’s best to wait until they’re fully ripe.
Will habaneros ripen if picked green?
This depends on how early you’ve picked them. If they’re picked very early, before they’ve started to turn color, they may not ripen anymore.
If you’ve picked them a bit later, when they’ve started to turn color but are still a bit green, they may ripen a little bit more, but they won’t be as hot as if you’d waited until they were fully ripe.
What color are habaneros when they are ripe?
The color depends on the variety of Habanero you have. For example, orange Habaneros will turn orange when they’re ripe. Red Habaneros will turn red. Those are the 2 most common colors, but there are also white, brown, and yellow Habaneros.
Basically, green habaneros are not ripe, and any other color means they are.
Why are my habaneros not hot?
There are a few reasons why your habaneros might not be as hot as you expect. First, it could be that they’re not fully ripe yet. If they’re still green, they won’t be as hot as if they were fully ripe.
Another possibility is that they’re just not the hottest variety. Some Habanero peppers are hotter than others. So, if you’re expecting a really fiery pepper but it’s not quite living up to the hype, it might just be a milder variety.
Finally, it’s also possible that they were grown in less-than-ideal conditions. If it was a cool summer or the soil wasn’t particularly fertile, the peppers might never reach their peak “hotness”.
How to Harvest Habaneros
Once you’ve determined that your Habaneros are ready to pick, it’s time to harvest them. The best way to do this is to cut them off the plant with a sharp knife or pair of scissors. You want to be careful not to damage the plant or pull off any leaves.
If you’re only picking a few peppers, you can just cut the peppers that you want and leave the rest on the plant. However, if you’re picking a large quantity of peppers, it’s best to harvest the entire plant. This will prevent the plant from continuing to produce peppers and prevent any disease or pests from getting to the peppers.
To harvest an entire plant, cut the stem about an inch or two from the ground. You can then remove the plant from the pot or garden bed and hang it upside down to dry. The peppers will continue to ripen as they dry and should be ready to use in a few weeks.
A word of caution if you have sensitive skin: Habanero peppers can cause skin irritation, so it’s important to wear gloves when handling them. You should also wash your hands thoroughly after handling the peppers. Accidentally rubbing your eyes while you have Habanero juice on your hands is a recipe for disaster (talking from personal experience).
In Conclusion: How And When To Pick Habaneros
To sum it up, you can start thinking of picking your habaneros when 90 days have passed since transplanting the plant.
If you want them to be at their spiciest, wait until they’ve fully turned color and become very firm. If you want to enjoy their flavor without all the heat, feel free to pick them while they’re still green.
Whichever way you go, it’s best to handle them with gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterward. Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy the fruits of your labor in some hot and delicious dishes.