When to Pick Ghost Peppers? (and How to Do it?)

There are numerous varieties of ghost peppers that you can grow. In general, the difference between the varieties is their color. There are red, orange, brown, dark green, white, yellow, or even peach-colored varieties. If you grow any one of these, you might be wondering when they are ready to be picked.

Ghost peppers are ready to be picked once they’ve reached their desired color. For example, red ghost peppers should be picked when they have turned red, while brown ghost peppers should be picked when they’ve reached a lovely chocolate color.

Let’s discuss this in more detail and also how best to pick your ghost peppers.

When are Ghost Peppers Ready to be Picked?

Ideally, you should pick your ghost peppers once they’ve gone through their color change and they have turned the color that they’re supposed to be. Here’s a table that explains the colors to look for.

Ghost Pepper VarietyAverage Length When RipeColor When Ripe
Red ghost pepper2.5 to 3.5 inches (6.5 to 9 cm)Red
Yellow ghost pepper2.5 to 3.5 inches (6.5 to 9 cm)Yellow
Chocolate ghost pepper2.5 to 3.5 inches (6.5 to 9 cm)Dark brown
Peach ghost pepper4 inches (10 cm)Peachy-pink
Purple ghost pepper1 inch (2.5 cm)Purple
Orange ghost pepper2.5 to 3.5 inches (6.5 to 9 cm)Orange
White ghost pepper2.5 to 3.5 inches (6.5 to 9 cm)Creamy White

You also might have seen green ghost peppers. Basically, these are just immature versions of the red ghost pepper. They are still edible while they’re green but will be a little fruitier.

It’s also important to note that it can take around 5 months after germination before ghost peppers are ready to be picked. For this reason, you either need to live in a region with a long, warm growing season, or you need to start your peppers indoors at least 2 months before the last expected frost date.

How to Pick Ghost Peppers

Ghost peppers are fairly easy to pick once they’re ripe and ready for harvest. You can pick them by hand by holding onto the green stem and pulling it up and away from the plant. Be careful not to break any other stems on the plant.

Alternatively, you can use a pair of scissors or garden snips to cut each pepper with its stem attached.

While picking these peppers, you might want to wear protective gloves to stop any of the juice from getting onto your hands in case you accidentally pierce the skin.

Will Ghost Peppers continue to Produce a Second or Subsequent Harvest?

In essence, ghost peppers are perennial plants. Therefore, if you live in a warm climate that doesn’t get any frosts in winter, your plant will continue to grow and produce a harvest every year.

However, if you live in an area that gets frosts and cold temperatures, your plant will most likely die over winter. Therefore, to overwinter your plant, you’ll have to bring it indoors once the weather starts to cool down.

Otherwise, you can just grow your ghost pepper as an annual and plant a new one every year.

How Long will Ghost Peppers Last once they’ve been Picked?

Generally speaking, ghost peppers should last around 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator. If you have a large harvest, you can also freeze them. All you have to do is place them in a sealed freezer-proof bag or plastic container and place them in the freezer. Stored this way, they will last for around 6 months to 1 year.

Another way to preserve your ghost peppers is to dry them using a food dehydrator or a very slow oven. You don’t have to cut them up for this as they will dry perfectly well as a whole pepper. Once completely dry, you can store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark spot.

Important note about Handling Ghost Peppers

Due to their high capsaicin content, it’s important to wear protective gloves when handling these fruits. You should also take extra care not to touch your eyes while you’re handling these peppers. Some people can even experience eye irritation just by being near them.

Therefore, make sure that you wash your hands well after handling these very hot peppers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you harvest ghost peppers while they’re still green?

It’s fine to harvest some of the green peppers before they’ve fully matured. These are still perfectly fine to eat and will have just a little less heat than when they’re fully ripe. Traditionally, these green ghost peppers are often used in curries, sauces, and stir-fries.

How long does it take for ghost peppers to grow?

It can take almost 5 months (130 – 150 days) before you can harvest your first ghost peppers. It’s also interesting to note that these plants don’t produce a huge harvest when the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). You might find that you’ll get a more abundant crop once the weather cools down slightly.

Will ghost peppers change color once they’ve been picked?

If the ghost pepper has started to change color, then it will continue to do so once it’s picked. On the other hand, if a green pepper has been picked too early, it will not change color once it’s been picked.

Can you collect the seeds to use for the following year’s crop?

If you’re planning to collect some seeds from your ghost pepper plant, you should wait another week after the pepper is ripe before harvesting it and saving the seeds. This gives the seeds enough time to mature fully.

When are ghost peppers at their hottest?

A study done on the capsaicin levels in ghost peppers has concluded that these levels are at their optimum at around 45 to 50 days after fruit set. This would indicate that ghost peppers are at their hottest level at around 7 weeks after fruit set.