What can you do with peppers that didn't have time to ripen? If I pick peppers when green, will they ripen off the plant?
If you have to pick your hot peppers early – including Ghost Peppers or the Yellow Carolina Reapers or Habaneros – due to impending cold weather, don't worry! Often, many peppers do continue to ripen on their own on the counter after being picked. It can take a week or so, but it's possible if the peppers are close enough to ripe when picked. Check them to make sure they aren't getting soft (you don't want moldy insides!) Often, peppers picked at the end of the season will ripen to their final color in a few days at room temperature on a countertop or bowl.
Ideally, of course it's best to leave them on the plant until they turn their final color, but sometimes you have to pick if snow or hard frosts are in the forecast.
This Yellow Carolina Reaper, shown above, was totally green when we picked it before an early snowstorm. It was likely close to getting ripe, but the early cold cut off the opportunity for it to stay on the plant. We thought it would just stay green, but over the week it turned completely yellow, starting with the shoulders, and then working it's way down to the tail. Check out the final yellow color below, we ended up drying it in our dehydrator for future salsa use. When cutting it, it had a juicy sweet spicy aroma, so despite ripening fully off the vine, it still has the burning heat and flavor we were hoping for!
Got Green Green Chile?
With New Mexican Green Chile varieties, don't count on the green pods turning red after picking. A few may if they are close enough to ripe, but after picking green chile doesn't ripen much more. So we don't advise trying to dry green chile, or make Ristras from green pods (use only red, mature pods), as most green pods may not be mature enough to turn red, and these green chile will instead shrivel and turn whitish – not a pretty sight! It's best to use green chile for roasting!
Alternatives to Picking Peppers before a Frost:
Grow peppers in containers and move them in!
Here are our favorite hot peppers to grow in containers »
Green Peppers still taste good!
Here are a few ideas of what to do with unripe peppers:
• Add to chile stews or soups
• Make Fermented Hot Sauce