When to Pick Red Bell Peppers

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Bell Peppers is a satisfaction to grow in the garden. You can pick big colorful fruits that are sweet and crispy and infinitely versatile. They come in colors like purple, orange, yellow and bright ruby red. Check your seed pack to make sure your bell pepper is a red ripening variety. Plant a variety and have all colors.


Bell Pepper Colors

All bell peppers begin their lives as green bells. In fact, all peppers start green and then ripen to different shades of the rainbow. Some peppers start green and then ripen to yellow, orange, or purple. Others start out green and then go through shades of purple, orange, or yellow before finally maturing to a completely red stage.

Pay attention to your pepper variety so you know what to expect as it ripens. Here are a few of the most popular red bell pepper varieties available:

  • Ace: Hybrid, medium sized fruits, blossom drop tolerant, 70 days to ripen red
  • Yankee Bell: Open pollinated, medium sized fruit, 80 days to ripen red
  • California Wonder: Heirloom, largest fruit of open-pollinated varieties, 75 days to ripen red

Ripening on or off the plant

Green peppers that are commercially available are the same peppers as the yellow, orange, or red varieties. They were selected much earlier. That is why colored peppers are more expensive because they need a longer time on the plant. Bell peppers can be eaten at any time during their life cycle, but when fully matured, they are usually the sweetest and tastiest.

Most pepper seed packets have a “Days to Ripe” section that shows how many days a green pepper and how many days a colored pepper needs. If you pick a pepper when it is completely green, it will likely not ripen to its full color on the counter. If you wait until the pepper shows signs of change in its ripe stage and then pick it, it will ripen from the plant to a full color.

Picking a pepper that changes but is not fully ripened has the advantage of stimulating the plant to produce more peppers. However, if you wait for the pepper to ripen red on the plant, you will get the most aromatic and nutritious fruits. The vitamin C content can triple in a fully ripe red pepper as opposed to a green pepper.

How to Pick

Use secateurs to separate the stem of the pepper about 1 to 2 inches from the crown of the fruit. Do not peel the pepper as this can damage the plant. Avoid damaging the plant as it will continue to produce fruit until the end of the season.

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