When To Pick Pepperoncini Peppers For The Best Results

Pepperoncini is a delicious type of chili pepper and a signature ingredient in a classic Mediterranean diet. They are surprisingly easy to grow at home and make a versatile addition to any kitchen garden.

However, I find the most complex part of the cultivation process to be knowing exactly when to pick pepperoncini peppers to ensure you get a flavorful and appetizing crop.

Once you master this, you can expect a bountiful supply of peppers across the season to match all your culinary needs, from crunchy green pepperoncini for a salad to cooking a sweet red pepper stew!

Key Takeaways

  1. Pepperoncini peppers can be grown both outdoors and in a greenhouse. Outdoors, it takes around 2.5 months to reach maturity, while a greenhouse allows for better control and extends the growing season into the Fall.
  2. The peak season for pepperoncini peppers is from July to September. Plant seedlings when night-time temperatures consistently stay above 55°F in mid-spring for optimal growth.
  3. Harvesting time determines the flavor and use of pepperoncini peppers. For salads and pickling, pick them when they are greeny yellow with thick, glossy skin. For sweeter peppers suitable for cooking, wait until they turn red with wrinkled skin. Harvest by cutting ¼ inch above the pepper on the stem, and store them for up to 10 days in the refrigerator.

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When To Pick Pepperoncini Peppers: Outdoor Vs Greenhouse

pepperoncini peppers
By Joi Ito on Flickr

Pepperoncini season falls in the peak summer months, but the exact time to harvest will depend on when you planted them and if they are outdoors or in a greenhouse.

Outdoors, they are at the mercy of the elements, but in a fair season, they should reach maturity approximately 2 and a half months after planting your seedlings.

A greenhouse will allow you to better control growing conditions, so your crop should be ready on schedule, and it will also mean you can extend your growing season into the Fall.

When to pick also depends on what you want to use them for. In the early part of the season, you will have flavorsome, crunchy green pepperoncini, ideal for salads, raw snacking, and marinating, but if left to ripen, you can expect sweeter red peppers that are ideal to cook with.

When Are Pepperoncini Peppers in season?

July to September is considered pepperoncini season. This is because the average plant takes around 10 weeks to grow. 

For the best growing conditions, pepperoncini seedlings should be planted once night-time temperatures remain consistently above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This is generally in mid-spring.

How Long Do Pepperoncini Peppers Take To Mature?

Every plant will differ slightly, but you can expect your pepperoncini plant to mature between days 65 and 80 after initial planting.

My top tip is to note when you planted your seedlings and set a reminder on your calendar for 65 days later.  This will give you a good reference point to check maturation and how close you are to harvesting.

Once they start to ripen, you have a very short window to pick them, and you will need to check daily to ensure you don’t miss them at your desired color.

Do Pepperoncini Peppers Turn Red?

When you picture traditional pepperoncini, it is likely you will conjure up images of a succulent greeny yellow pepper marinated in olive oil at the center of a tapas board – this is when they are considered at their prime for harvesting.  

But if left for long enough, they will go through a spectrum of colors, from green to yellow to pink, before turning red at full maturity.

Once red, you will find the pepperoncini sweeter and with a higher vitamin C content.  At this stage, they are best used in cooked recipes.

If stored well, pepperoncini picked at the yellow stage can ripen to red off the vine too.

When To Pick Pepperoncini Peppers

How To Tell If Pepperoncini Peppers Are Ready To Harvest

Once mature, Pepperoncini can be picked at any stage of growth, and each stage will provide a different flavor. 

To maximize yield, I advise waiting between 65 and 75 days to produce the best crop.  At this stage, the plant should be approximately 24 inches tall, and each pepper should be 2 to 5 inches long and an inch in diameter at the thickest end near the stalk.

If you want to use them in salads or to pickle, they are best picked in the early stages of maturation, when they are greeny yellow with a glossy but thick skin.

If you want sweeter pepperoncini to cook with, leave them to ripen until they become red, then harvest and use immediately.  At this stage, you can expect the skin to have started to wrinkle.

How To Harvest Pepperoncini Peppers

When you are ready to harvest your peppers, you should cut around ¼ inch above the pepper on the stem using sharp scissors or sheers.  This will protect the plant by ensuring a clean cut. 

Leaving a small stem will preserve freshness and make way for new growth without damaging the plant.  Like most other experts, I advise you to keep harvesting if you want to encourage new growth.

Will Pepperoncini Ripen Off The Vine?

If you harvest at the green-yellow stage and store them at room temperature, pepperoncini continues to ripen off the vine for up to 10 days.

I only recommend you remove them from the vine if weather conditions are not favorable or if you have spotted the early onset of disease or pests on the plant.

Otherwise, I find it far better to allow the peppers to reach the color stage you desire on the vine and then harvest. 

You might like to read When To Harvest Serrano Peppers

How To Store Pepperoncini Peppers After Harvesting

Once picked, they will be stored for up to 10 days in a refrigerator.  To maximize freshness, I place them unwashed in an airtight container lined with paper towels and store them in the refrigerator vegetable drawer.

Many people like to preserve peppers by drying them.  You can hang them where there is good airflow until they are fully dehydrated, then store them in an airtight jar until needed.

Another popular method to store homegrown pepperoncini is to pickle or marinate them. Although they also freeze well, they will lose their crunch and should only be used to cook once defrosted.

Final Thoughts

To wrap it up, picking your pepperoncini peppers can be an exciting time, but you need to know exactly when to pick them. Remember, timing is everything. Start planting those seedlings when the nights are comfortably warm, about 55°F, usually in mid-spring. Then, after 65 to 80 days of plant TLC, you’ll be faced with a decision: crispy greeny-yellow peppers for salads or tangy red ones with wrinkled skin for cooking.

Whether you’re a gardening guru or just testing the waters, picking pepperoncini peppers isn’t just about plucking veggies; it’s about adding homegrown goodness to your kitchen creations. You’ll truly enjoy the flavors that will make your taste buds dance.

FAQ’s About When To Harvest Pepperoncini Peppers

Do Pepperoncinis Turn Yellow When Ripe?

Yes, pepperoncini peppers turn yellow when they ripen. They go through a color spectrum from green to yellow to pink before maturing to a bright red. The red stage is when they are considered fully ripe and sweeter in flavor.

How big do pepperoncini peppers get?

The size of pepperoncini peppers can vary, but on average, they grow to be approximately 2 to 5 inches long and about an inch in diameter at the thickest end near the stalk.

Can you eat pepperoncini raw?

Yes, you can eat pepperoncini peppers raw. In their early stage of maturation (greeny yellow), they are flavorsome, crunchy, and perfect for salads, snacking, and marinating. However, if you prefer sweeter peppers, you can let them ripen to red and use them in cooked recipes.

Are banana peppers and Pepperoncinis the same things?

Although they originate from the same genus and look similar there are subtle differences between the two, namely a pepperoncini pepper has typically wrinkled skin whereas a banana pepper has smooth banana-like skin.

Are Pepperoncini peppers hotter than jalapenos?

Jalapenos are hotter than pepperoncini, 50 times hotter according to the Scoville Scale, in fact!  That is not because jalapenos are so hot (they are considered the mildest of the medium-heat peppers), but because pepperoncini are mild, with a low score in comparison. 

Can I make a pepperoncini pepper hotter?

It is possible to make pepperoncini peppers taste slightly hotter by choosing to water the plants just once per week.  This will stress the peppers and increase their potential Scoville Scale ranking.

When should I pick pepperoncini peppers?

Pepperoncini peppers can be picked when they are fully mature and have reached their desired size. Most people prefer to harvest them when they are between 2 and 5 inches long. You can tell that your pepperoncini peppers are ready to be picked when they have turned from a light green to a pink or red color. This indicates that they are fully mature and have reached their peak flavor.

Can I pick pepperoncini peppers when they are still green?

Yes, you can pick pepperoncini peppers when they are still green. However, keep in mind that they will have a milder flavor compared to the ones that have turned pink or red.

How long does it take for pepperoncini peppers to grow?

Pepperoncini peppers typically take about 75 days to fully mature from the time of planting.

What is the best way to harvest pepperoncini peppers?

To harvest pepperoncini peppers, use a sharp pair of pruning shears or scissors to cut the peppers from the plant. Make sure to leave a short stem attached to the pepper. This helps to prevent any damage to the plant.

Can I harvest pepperoncini peppers multiple times from the same plant?

Yes, pepperoncini peppers can be harvested multiple times from the same plant. As long as you continue to care for the plant and provide it with the necessary nutrients, it will produce more peppers throughout the growing season.

Can I save the seeds from my harvested pepperoncini peppers to grow my own plants?

Absolutely! To save the seeds, simply allow the peppers to fully ripen and then scoop out the seeds. Rinse them thoroughly and let them dry completely. Once dry, store them in a cool, dry place until you are ready to plant them.

Are there any special care instructions for growing pepperoncini peppers?

Pepperoncini peppers prefer well-draining soil and require regular watering. It is also recommended to provide them with support such as cages or stakes, to keep the plants upright as they grow. Additionally, regular pruning can help promote better air circulation and prevent diseases.