Growing and harvesting can be a very rewarding and fun activity for those who love to garden. To get the best yield from your Serrano Pepper plants, you should know some basics about harvesting serrano peppers. This article covers the details on when to harvest serrano peppers.
Serrano Peppers should be harvested when they are still green and unripe. If left on the plant too long, they will turn red and become too soft to use. Some people pick them even when they are slightly yellow, but this is not recommended by most experts.
The best time to pick serrano peppers is in the morning after the dew has dried, but before it gets too hot. You can also harvest serrano peppers in mid-afternoon if you will be preparing them right away.
Serrano peppers are an excellent source of vitamin A and C, as well as dietary fiber. Both serrano peppers and jalapeno peppers are hot, but serrano pepper plants are smaller which makes them ideal for container gardening. Serrano pepper plants grow very well with basil or Mexican tarragon.
What is a Serrano pepper?
Serrano is a chili pepper that originated in the mountainous regions of the Mexican states of Puebla and Hidalgo. It is known as piquin in Mexico, and chile seco del norte or just chile norte in California. It is about 2–5 cm long and tapers to a blunt point; it may be straight or slightly curved. The chilies ripen from green to red, but some varieties of the plant produce chilies that mature to yellowish-orange hues.
Many people refer to serranos as “bird’s beak chilies” in English or “chile de agua” in Spanish because of their tapering shape and sharp point. Serranos are an important ingredient in Mexican cuisine, especially in dishes such as tamales, menudo, salsas, and guacamole.
Seeds from serrano peppers
The heat level of a serrano pepper depends on its size, age, and growing conditions. They are used mainly in powder form to provide heat in many salsas.
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Harvesting Serrano pepper
The Serrano chili is related to the cayenne pepper which originated in French Guiana, and the African bird’s eye chili. Serrano pepper plants are between 30-90 cm tall and can grow up to 1 meter if unpruned. They have green stems with 4–7 branches at each node, 7 to 15 cm long leaves, and small white flowers with yellow stamens developing from light green flower buds. After a few weeks, small green berries begin to form on the plant. As they ripen, the green color changes to a bright red that remains for several months even when the temperatures drop below freezing.
From June through August, serrano pepper plants can produce up to 100 peppers from each fruit bunch. A single plant will produce just 20-30 peppers per year, but they are prolific growers and may require staking to keep them upright.
Serrano pepper plants must be grown under natural sunlight to produce fruit with the proper color and flavor. Cloudy days completely alter the growth cycle of the plant.
Serrano peppers are ready for harvest when the fruit has reached full maturity and is completely red. The time needed to reach maturity varies greatly depending on temperature, sunlight, water availability, and soil composition. Serranos left unpicked will fall from the plant when fully ripe to help future crops grow more easily.
Serrano peppers are small, slender chilies that start green and gradually ripen into the red. Handle with care when harvesting to avoid irritation from the chili’s capsaicin oil [the chemical that makes chilies hot]. To harvest, carefully cut or pull serrano peppers from the plant. Avoid touching the chili with bare hands.
For the best flavor, serrano peppers should be harvested while still green [the hotter-tasting chilies come from red or orange peppers].
However, if ripe fruit is desired for decoration or other purposes, pick serrano peppers when they’ve turned red. Be careful though, because this will cause them to be much hotter.
The stems, leaves, and fruit of the serrano pepper plant are all covered in fine hairs [similar to a fuzz], which cause the unpleasant “burn” associated with chili peppers. If you do accidentally touch any part of this plant, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to avoid irritation. If you’re looking for serrano pepper plants, you can find a good selection online.
Serrano pepper plants grow from 1 to 3 feet [about 30 to 90 cm] in height. The plant’s flowers appear in small yellow clusters about an inch [2.54 cm] long and gradually transform into small, thin serrano peppers.
Serrano peppers start as green and gradually turn into red when they ripen.
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How to pick Serrano peppers:
Serrano peppers can be harvested at any time after they are completely green. There is no easy way to harvest serrano peppers, you just have to get out there and pick! If you have a lot of plants, you can shake the branches or use a pole with a hook on the end to pull them from the plant.
If using garden shears, cut the stem of the pepper just above where it meets the plant. If using your hands, just pull or twist the pepper off the stem. However, serrano peppers are better picked by hand when they are small, around 2 inches long [5 cm], or the size of your index finger.
Using scissors or pruning shears will damage the branches and leave you with fewer peppers for next year’s crop. The length of time it takes for serrano peppers to grow from being picked to being ripe varies depending on the climate in which you live. It can take anywhere from 8 weeks till 10 weeks before serrano peppers become red when grown in warm climates.
The average length of time it takes for serrano peppers to grow from being picked till they are fully ripe is about 9 weeks. It is a good idea to mark the plants if you have multiple plants so you will know when each pepper should be harvested. Serrano peppers can all be harvested on one plant at different times.
Do not leave them on the plant until they are overripe or you will lose all of your peppers to rot.
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Are serrano peppers hotter when they turn red?
No, serrano peppers are not hotter when they turn red. They are at the same heat level all through their ripening process.
While this is not scientifically proven, it is commonly believed that Serrano Peppers do get hotter as they mature and ripen. Whether they do or not, it is a good idea to leave them on the plant until they are fully ripe, unless you need them earlier.
Do serrano peppers ripen after picking?
Peppers do continue to mature on their own even after you’ve picked them, so even if you keep them in a tiny container at room temperature, they should turn ripe for you in about a week or two.
Some people will tell you that Serrano Peppers only continue to get hotter after they have been picked, but this is a myth. For the most part, the heat of a Serrano Pepper does not change after it has been harvested. It depends more on the age.
While different varieties of Serrano Peppers may taste slightly different and have slightly different heat levels, they will maintain this heat level for about one week after harvesting. After that, they will begin to soften and their flavor will start to diminish.
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How big should serrano peppers be before picking?
They should be about 2-3 inches long, or about golf ball size.
What should I do with my extra serrano pepper plants after harvesting all the peppers?
You can allow the plant to flower and produce more peppers. It is also possible to save the seeds of these peppers for planting next season, however, be aware that some peppers will not produce good seedlings.