A Pepper… WITH THE SHAPE, COLOR, AND ALMOST THE SWEETNESS OF A BANANA!
YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME!
Well, we aren’t.
If you’ve planted one of these out of curiosity, you’ll have to ask: when to pick banana peppers? And even more critical – HOW?
Should you wait until the pepper looks like a real banana? (DON’T)
Or should you expect the pepper to turn fully ripe to RIP IT OFF? (OF COURSE NOT)
Well, when should you pick it then?
The answer is not as simple as it seems. Banana peppers are slightly PICKY when it comes to that. If you get them at the wrong time or the wrong way, there’s a chance they won’t taste as good (you may end up with an awful-tasting pepper).
Luckily for you – we know exactly HOW TO AVOID THAT. Check our guide below and learn!
Banana Peppers Facts: What to Know?
As soon as you see a ripe pepper, you’ll know where the name comes from.
While it is not exactly like a banana, the yellowish color and the slightly curved shape make it similar enough to hold its name.
There are a few more essential facts about the ‘Capsicum annuum’ you need to consider. These include:
- It requires full-sun exposure to grow and yield peppers
- A typical banana pepper plant can reach up to 3 feet tall
- The pepper is often yellow but can also grow green, orange, and turn red when ripe
- It is not a hot pepper with only 0-500 Scoville units (a Carolina Reaper is over 1.000.000 Scoville)
- Its taste is often described as tangy with a sweet aftermath
- Older and more ripe peppers tend to be a lot sweeter and less spicy
- There are over 5 different cultivars with various colors and growth habits
Having these things in mind, let’s now show you the ins and outs of the plant depending on what variety you’re growing.
Types of Banana Peppers
Before you start picking those peppers, you should AT LEAST understand what type you have.
The reason? Different species ripe at different stages, boasting all kinds of looks and delivering various heat and tastes.
#1. Banana Bill Hybrid Pepper
You can consider it the biggest of banana peppers varieties.
A typical Banana Bill Hybrid can grow to over 8 inches long and no less than an inch wide. Its beauty comes on the walls – juicy and delicious.
Because it’s one of the largest, you can also expect it to take a bit of time to grow peppers. At least 70 days from the day it blooms.
Having said that, it’s totally worth the wait. Those big peppers can replace bell peppers with ease, thanks to their sweetness and juiciness. Plus, it is a resistant variety that grows with little to no effort in most environments.
ALSO CONSIDER: You’ll know it is ripe when the pepper looks bright yellow to orange. Leave it until the pepper turns red for an extra-sweet taste.
#2. Hot Banana Pepper
The name is both a perfect description and a little warning: it’s REALLY HOT. Sure, it is not the spiciest of all peppers – but something to be careful about.
Compared to other banana peppers, this one can reach a whopping 15,000 Scoville units. Yes, over 200 times the typical banana pepper. To say it is spicy would be an understatement.
The pepper grows up to 8 and no less than 5 inches. You can expect the plant to produce peppers at no less than 65 days from planting.
There’s a bit of a catch here. Given the pepper can be really hot, you’ll want to wait until it’s fully ripened for less hotness (at least 85 days).
EXCITING FACT: This one grows more yellowish, only turning red when the pepper fully matures. If you let it ripe completely, you may lower the Scoville units to as low as 5,000 (a lot sweeter!).
#3. Inferno Hot Banana Hybrid Pepper
Don’t let the name fool you…
It is a hot pepper, a bit spicier than the standard banana pepper, but nothing extraordinary. A
REALLY SPICY Inferno Hot hybrid won’t have more than 4,000 Scoville units.
Apart from that, it grows to about the same length as other banana peppers: from 4 to 8 inches.
But in contrast, this one achieves a green tone as it grows, turning orange as it fully ripens but generally looking bright yellow.
It takes about 75 days to be ready for harvest after blooming.
EXTRA FACTS: Picking it when it is still yellow may increase its spiciness, so be careful. Also, the plant struggles with cold environments that could make it drop its blossoms.
#4. Sweet Banana Pepper
Last but not least – the Sweet Banana pepper. This would be the original variety, what everyone knows as banana pepper for its shape and sweetness.
This one grows to about 7 inches and has a slightly crispier texture. The reason is the thinner walls, adding up to the sweetness and how tasty it is overall.
When it’s growing, the pepper is often light green until it achieves a vibrant yellow. As it ripens, the pepper turns orange to red. This may take about 70 days.
WORTHY FACT: This variety is a favorite for people who pickle peppers. Similarly, many people eat it raw because it is rarely hot enough to cause discomfort.
Banana Peppers When to Pick?
With all that in mind – WHEN SHOULD YOU PICK BANANA PEPPERS THEN?
Well, it depends.
Not only do you need to consider what type you’re growing, how it looks, and how big it is, but also WHERE it’s growing. We go a little deeper on these factors below:
- Size of the Pepper
The first thing you need to consider is HOW BIG the pepper is.
Regardless of the variety, you can wait for the pepper to reach AT LEAST 5 inches. It is bigger than that; then it is mature enough.
Just be careful – fast-growing varieties may confuse you (looking big but not ripe…)
- Color of the Pepper
If the pepper grows quickly but still looks green – that’s a sign there’s still time to let it grow.
The best sign of ripeness is color. Green means it’s maturing. Yellow often means it’s ready (but probably spicy). Orange peppers are ripened but still with a bit of growth to do. And red means it is fully ripened (shouldn’t let it grow much longer).
This changes between varieties, of course. But regardless, RED always means it is ready (past due in some cases).
- Growing Time of the Pepper
To be even clearer about when to pick the pepper, nothing helps you more than time itself.
Some varieties grow ready-to-be-eaten peppers in just 65 days, while others may take 85 days. Depending on what type you got, that’s the amount of time you need to consider.
The range is significant because some may be ready at 70 days but take up to 85 days to fully ripen. Should you wait in that case? It depends on whether you prefer crispy and spicy or sweet and juicy.
Of course, the time will be affected by temperature and climate. A fresh environment means faster growth. But too much rain, cold, or heat will slow the amount of time – so be careful.
- Stage of the Pepper
Lastly, consider whether you prefer crispy or juicy peppers.
This is essential because it could make the whole difference.
If you like them soft and sweet, let them get RED. This would be at least 75 days for most banana peppers.
But if you prefer crispy and spicy, go no further than 70 days when the pepper is yellow (maximum orange).
As an experiment, you should always try banana peppers at different stages to find out which stage you prefer.
How to Pick Banana Peppers?
Now you’re ready to pick those peppers at the right time. However, HOW SHOULD YOU PICK THEM?
Well, it’s nothing out of the extraordinary – even children can do it!
Here’s a brief step-by-step guide to follow, with additional tips to consider:
- Start by grabbing the pepper by the top part. Don’t pull them down. Instead, use an upward movement. This breaks the stem and releases the pepper with less effort than pulling.
- For peppers that don’t come off right away, they may need a bit more time to ripe. If you want to take them off regardless, grab the branch with one hand and the pepper with the other. Use the same upward movement
- In case you prefer not to get your hands dirty, ⦁ pruning shears and scissors also work. Cutting DIRECTLY where the branch connects to the pepper should be enough.
- When you hold the pepper to pull out or simply store, make sure not to apply too much pressure. While they’re not spicy right away, you may end up with your hands covered in capsaicin and burn your eyes or skin by mistake.
- Once you pick the peppers, don’t let them get humid or soggy. Store right away. Otherwise, it could cause the pepper skin to soften up and rot.
There’s not much to know in this case, peppers are pretty easy, and anyone can take them off at any time.
How to Store Banana Peppers?
These vegetables are better consumed fresh. But that doesn’t mean storing them for a few days or weeks will kill their flavor. Actually, the opposite – they may taste even sweeter and richer.
But preserving them for a few days is not so easy. These peppers tend to turn overripe really fast and go from ready-to-be-eaten to inedible faster than you think.
Luckily for you, we have a few tips that may help you out:
- Store Them Right Away
You’re probably picking a few banana peppers to eat right away. Once you decide which one to eat – get the rest into a drawer on your freezer.
Don’t leave them out for more than 3 days if you want to preserve them for at least 2 weeks.
- Keep Them Cold
Heat causes peppers to turn mushy and rot. Cold, on the other hand, preserves them more effectively.
If you want the peppers to last 6 months or more, freeze them in bags. This will preserve them longer than any other choice.
- Pickle Them
Pickling the peppers is another excellent choice. The spicy types, for example, tend to get really tasty when they’re pickled. As a plus, they tend to last months (thanks to vinegar).
- Dry Them Up
Leave the peppers DIRECTLY under the sun for a few days. The sunlight will dry them up within a bit less than a week. You’ll have the chance to cook them and eat them however you wish.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. Can you pick bananas before they are ripe?
Yes. It’s totally possible and encouraged in some cases, especially for sweet varieties like the common banana pepper.
The reason to pick them before they’re fully ripe is to enjoy their spiciness. When the peppers start to get yellow, the Scoville level tends to be higher than when they’re red. Also, they tend to be crispier (which a lot of people prefer).
But you can also pick them beforehand if you want to store them. Picking them 2 weeks before they’re ripe may keep the peppers safe to eat for a lot longer.
Q2. Will the banana pepper plant keep producing after harvest?
Yes. Most pepper plants keep producing yields going forward, even after you’ve picked all of the peppers at once. In fact, picking the ripe peppers fast will promote more banana peppers to come out. This will eventually give you up to twice the harvest than without picking them. So, don’t hold back!
Q3. How to pickle banana peppers?
The process is easy. You’ll need vinegar, water, salt, and sugar, plus a container (glass bottle works) to pour the peppers with these ingredients. Once you have them, you can place the pepper(s) inside the container.
Pour some of the water into the container with the pepper. Check that it covers 50% of the pepper.
Then pour this water out in a pan. Heat the pan up and then add salt and sugar to taste (don’t overdo it).
Keep mixing until the sugar and salt have completely dissolved. Then pour the mix into the container with the pepper. Fill the rest of the container with vinegar.
Now you can wait up to a month for the peppers to macerate. You can then eat them and enjoy the extra-tasty pickled peppers.
You can add garlic into the pan before the water. This will add even more flavor!
Q4. Are banana peppers and pepperoncini the same thing?
No. Pepperoncinis are slightly spicier (some of them can be over 15,000 Scoville units hot), and their shape is different. Most pepperoncinis are wrinkled and small, with thinner skin. As for taste, they’re pretty similar (especially when pickled).
Q5. Do banana peppers turn red?
Yes. Most banana peppers will turn red if you leave them hanging for long enough. Many people prefer red for its sweetness and softness. Having said that, their best form is when bright yellow, when their flavor is more pungent and their texture a lot crispier.
Q6. What are banana peppers suitable for?
They’re good for pretty much anything. People use them as a replacement for bell peppers, given their sweetness but tangy taste. Others prefer eating it raw when it’s yellow, given it is crispy and super-tasty. And believe it or not, banana peppers can also be pickled for an even stronger flavor.
Banana peppers are also great for salads, seasoning, and straight-up snacking. They’re super-versatile.
Pick Those Banana Peppers Off!
Now that you’re aware of when to pick banana peppers, it’s time to stop worrying.
GO AND GET THOSE BANANA PEPPERS!
Wait if you need to.
Either way, be sure to follow our advice and recommendations. You don’t want to end up with overly spicy or overly ripened peppers.