Friday 21 October 2016

Harvesting chillis

Well, it may not yet be really cold, but it's definitely Autumn and my chillis are feeling it. Lots of the plants still have fruit on them, but in varying stages of ripeness. With night-time temperatures regularly going down into low single figures, I judged it would be best to pick any of the fruits that were reasonably mature, and ripen them indoors.

Normally I like to leave my chillis to ripen naturally on the plants. Just as with most fruits, they achieve their best flavour that way, and chillis generally develop more heat as they ripen. However, it is nice to have a few green ones from time to time, because they are often less harsh.

I ended up with a big basket containing lots of different types:

To be honest, I only put them all together in that basket for the purpose of photographing them. Afterwards I sorted them out and stored them separately.

The white bowl contains all the Aji Limon ones, mostly fairly ripe, but with a few that are still green.

This little basket has the hottest ones in it: Devil's Tongue Chocolate, 7-Pot Brain Strain (the orangey ones) and some very small Red Habaneros.

The next ones are all Challock Chillis. I have observed that they remain that deep chocolately red-brown colour for a very long time, and then quickly turn red, at which point they become fairly dry, with little flesh left inside the pod. For eating fresh they would therefore be best harvested at the brown stage.

Then we have the "Misc" basket. The big long one at the left is Cayenne Thick; bottom right is a very small Turkish Sweet Pepper, with a bigger Lucifer's Dream Red chilli just above it.

Most of these chillis are not far off complete ripeness, and I'm confident that they will mature fully within a few days now that I have brought them indoors.

The long green ones here are some of the Cozumel chillis, which have been very reluctant to ripen. Most of the pods took on a few patches of purple, which is often a sign of approaching maturity in a chilli, and then one or two showed a bit of yellow / orange, but none have gone red. They dry up before that happens. This must be because our weather conditions here are so markedly different to those where their parents lived (Mexico). I have saved some seeds and will try again next year and see what happens.

The egg-shaped one is an "Alberto's Locoto" Rocoto chilli.

Once the chilli plants have been stripped of all their fruits they mostly end up in the compost bin, except for the lucky few that have been selected for over-Wintering. If you're planning to over-Winter some of yours and are not sure how to go about this, you might want to read my post on this subject from last week. Here's a link:- Over-Wintering chillis.


  1. I grew "ring of fire" this year, very heavy cropping, but were a little too hot for me. What chilli would you recommend I grow next year (in a greenhouse) that is reasonably heavy cropping, matures early enough for our climate and which is about half the strength of ring of fire? I will pickle some, dry some and eat some fresh. Any advice welcomed :)

    1. Andy; I hesitate to make a recommendation because all my chillis are grown outdoors and therefore always mature later than if they were in a greenhouse. Why not try the Old Faithful "Cayenne", which sounds as if it might meet your requirements.

  2. That big basket of chillis is gorgeous - well worth the effort to get a photo! I'm just about to wrap up my chili harvest - the Aji Limons are still on the upside down plant in the garage and I will be picking them off tomorrow. A lot of them did ripen up ok, so I think it was worth the experiment.


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