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Pepper plants are fairly easy to grow, a few cares are needed in the early stages of their growth and that will be pretty much all you’ll need.

Once they are fully grown, there are a few characteristics that you may want to use as key indicators, to determine when the time to harvest has come. 

How do you know when to harvest peppers? You can tell that peppers are ready to be harvested by the way their appearance, weight, smell, and texture change. Ripe peppers are larger, have bright and solid colors, are heavier, and are smellier as well. They also come off of the plant easier.

Read on below to learn the main characteristics of peppers when they are ready to be harvested. 

About Harvesting Peppers: What You Need to Know

Fresh red and orange peppers and tomatoes on a wooden plate.
Photo by Pixabay on

Peppers are one of the most popular vegetables to grow. They can be used in many savory recipes cooked or raw, they can be dried or ground into powder and used as a seasoning. 

A true fact about peppers is that they can be harvested as soon as they reach a proper size. However, every stage of their goeth provides a different feel, taste, and smell. Knowing the main characteristics of each stage will help you choose your preference.  

Steps to Harvesting Peppers

When peppers are ready to be harvested, there are several distinctive characteristics that you may want to take into account. The way they look, feel and smell are key factors to identify when it’s time to start enjoying your peppers. 

1. Know What a Ripe Pepper Looks, Smells, and Feels Like

It’s important to know that peppers are edible at any stage of their growth. The taste, however,  will be different. Almost all pepper varieties change color through their ripping process. When fully ripened, for example, bell peppers turn from green to deep red.  


These are the main characteristics of a pepper that it’s ready to be harvested:

  • They will change color
  • Their growth will stop
  • Their flesh will start to soften
  • Their weight increases
  • They begin to smell stronger
  • They will be easy to pick from the stem
  • Some varieties start corking 

2. Carefully Remove Each Pepper From the Plant, One by One

There are different techniques when it comes to harvesting peppers. While some will simply come loose, others will require extra effort. 


Bell peppers are more difficult to harvest, as they have a long stem. It’s better to use a sharp pair of scissors to slice the pepper from the plant. Other peppers varieties like Habanero and Cayenne can be picked by hand. 

3. Continue Harvesting Every 3 To 5 Days Until the Season Ends

Most plants will start to produce ripe peppers after 90 to 150 days. It’s okay if you decide to pick your peppers before they are fully ripped, they will be edible too. However, the taste will be different at every stage of the ripping process. Make sure to leave some so you can choose which one you prefer. 


In some varieties of peppers, some will ripen before the other. Make sure to pick them up as soon as they are ripped. That way, the plant will focus its energy on ripening the other peppers. 


How Does a Ripe Pepper Look?

The change of color is a key factor in the ripening process. Corking is also a way to identify that a pepper is ripped. When the flesh grows faster than the skin, it cracks it, leaving visible lines in it. 

How Does a Ripe Pepper Smell?

There are some varieties of peppers, the habanero, for example, that smells floral when fully ripped. 

How Does a Ripe Pepper Feel?

There are several characteristics that can indicate that a pepper is ripped. When they are fully mature, the flesh grows faster than the skin causing corking, which looks and feels rough due to the distinctive lines on the skin. When the pepper is overdue, the flesh starts to soften and the skin looks saggy. It’s important to check on the pepper so you don’t let them get to this point. 

Suggested Reading: 7 Common Types of Peppers To Grow

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