Pepperoncini are 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 is knowing exactly when to pick pepperoncini peppers to ensure you get a flavorsome 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!
- When Are Pepperoncini Peppers in Season
- How Long Do Pepperoncini Peppers Take To Mature
- Do Pepperoncini Peppers Turn Red?
Picking Pepperoncini Peppers – Outdoor Vs Greenhouse
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 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-degree 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 day 65 and day 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 then 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 color from green to yellow to pink before turning to 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.
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 65-75 days to produce the best crop. At this stage, the plant should be approximately 24 inches tall and each pepper 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 stage of maturation whilst 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 on 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 greeny-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 store 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 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 do also freeze well but will lose their crunch and should only be used to cook with once defrosted.
FAQ’s When To Harvest Pepperoncini Peppers
You may also like to read When to Pick Banana Peppers