Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.
Peppers are more than just a tasty addition to your meals. Some are sweet while others are spicy hot. There are even some that have nuances of both.
Peppers come in various colors including green, yellow, red, orange, and purple, and they can be long and skinny or short and fat.
Some have bumps on their skin while others are smooth. The amount of heat in a pepper depends on its color as well as the variety of pepper plant it came from.
Peppers Are a Nutritional Powerhouse
Peppers are packed with nutrients, including vitamin C and potassium. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant vitamin that fights pesky free radicals that harm your health while potassium helps with blood pressure control and is important for heart health.
Plus, they contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant and precursor to vitamin A and important for healthy vision. So, peppers are synonymous with nutrients.
Some people grow peppers of various varieties in their garden, so they always have fresh ones available.
Whether you harvest sweet peppers or hot peppers, they taste delicious and add personality to salsa, and other recipes, and you want them to last as long as possible.
How to Tell When a Pepper Is Ready to Pick
First, you must know when a pepper is ready to pick. The best way to tell if a pepper is ripe is by noting its color.
Peppers turn from green to yellow or orange as they ripen. They may even turn red or purple depending on the variety of pepper plant you're growing.
You can also tell when your peppers are ripe by checking their plumpness, firmness, and smoothness of the skin of each pepper before picking them off the plant.
You'll also notice that if you squeeze gently on the fruit, there should be little give between your fingers when picking them off your plants.
The final method is by smell. If you take a whiff of the stem, you'll notice a sweet smell coming from it. This means that your pepper is ready for harvest.
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How to Harvest Peppers
Now that your peppers are ready to pick, what’s the best way to do it? To harvest peppers, use a sharp knife or scissors to cut them off the plant.
When you pick peppers while they’re still green, they will continue to ripen in the fridge, but they may take longer than if you allowed them to mature on the plant.
Proper Pepper Storage
To keep your peppers tasty and nutritious, store them properly. First, rinse them under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Then place your peppers in the refrigerator in a sealed plastic bag or container lined with paper towels.
You can store peppers this way for up to 10 days this way before they begin to deteriorate.
If you chop bell peppers into strips or chunks and save them in the fridge, it’s best to use them within two days. Once you chop peppers, they start to lose nutrients, such as vitamin C.
If you wait more than a few days to eat them, they’ll be less nutritious. Plus, chopped peppers will brown from exposure to air quickly, a process called oxidation, and they won’t look as pretty or taste as good.
You can store dried peppers for up to one year if you store them properly and kept away from moisture and sunlight.
The best way to store them is in an airtight container placed in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources such as fireplaces or radiators.
Creative Ways to Use Peppers
Peppers are a healthy and flavorful addition to just about any meal! They're also a great way to add color and texture.
- Add them to your favorite recipes.
- Chop them up and add them to omelets, scrambled eggs, quesadillas, and sandwiches.
- Add sliced peppers to pizza dough for a spicy topping option.
- Roast bell peppers whole in the oven and then slice them up for a healthy side dish.
- Grill whole jalapenos until they are charred black on all sides and then throw them in your favorite burrito recipe for an added kick!
The Bottom Line
How long do peppers last after picking?
You can store a pepper for up to 10 days in a plastic container lined with towels.
However, it’s best to use them as soon as possible to maximize their nutritional value.
- "Vitamin C In Peppers: The Fact And Fiction - PepperScale." 11 Nov. 2019, https://www.pepperscale.com/vitamin-c-in-peppers/.
- "Chili Peppers 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Effects." 13 May. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/chili-peppers.