Harvesting Jalapeno Peppers
In 3 - 4 month's time, you'll be ready to pick your jalapeno peppers. Ripe jalapenos are a 4 - 6 inches long, fat, firm, and develop a bright sheen. They will turn a bright green, then begin to darken to a deeper green, then to black, and then to red. Jalapenos are ready to be picked when they are firm and bright green, but you can leave them on the plant all the way until they turn red. Growing peppers can be a lot of fun but beware, peppers will eventually fall off the plant if you leave them for too long, which will increase the chance of rotting.
Red jalapeno peppers are sweeter to the taste and not quite as hot, though they absolutely retain their jalapeno heat and flavor. It is all a matter of personal taste. If you plan to dry your peppers, leave them on until they are red.
When peppers are done growing they will pull off the plant very easily. If they don't come off easily they are still growing. Sometimes tiny brown lines will form on the peppers. These are growth lines and indicate the pepper is done growing. If these lines are forming, pick the pepper regardless of it's size. If for any reason a pepper is picked before it is ripe, you can place it on a south-facing windowsill until it is bright green and ripe.
The more peppers you pick the more will harvest so pick peppers often as soon as they are ripe to continue your harvest growing.
No matter what type of pepper, they do not like weather that is too cold. If there is fear of frost, you can cover it at night and uncover it in the morning. Weather.com has a garden area that tells you the risk of frost and the freeze risk. Do not go by frost risk, but instead go by freeze risk. If there is a chance of freezing, the plants will not survive.
I’d suggest picking every pepper prior to any freeze risk or prior to it getting around 35 degrees at night. If the temperature drops lower than this the plant will die and the peppers will shrivel and die. Tomatoes are only slightly different. Most of the tomatoes can still be picked even after the plant has died. Then they can finish ripening on the window sill in the sun.
Store the peppers in a clear bag in your refrigerator's crisper drawer for up to two weeks.
If you aren't able to eat your peppers within two weeks, there are many ways you can preserve them for continued use all year long.
Preserving Jalapeno Peppers