When Is the Best Time to Pick Banana Peppers for Maximum Flavor and Yield?

The all-important signs your banana peppers are ready to be harvested to get the best flavor

Banana peppers are the mild, tangy, medium sized peppers which can be grown in your backyard. To make the most of their flavor, you need to know when to harvest them.

Banana peppers are a type of chili pepper that can be used right away in many dishes after they are picked. They add a mild, tangy flavor to sandwiches, salads, and stir-fries.

Even though they’re not very hot, the banana pepper’s spice and sweetness change depending on how old it is. When you pick your banana peppers depends on your personal taste.

Our experts say that the best way to get the most out of these versatile banana peppers is to pick them when they are at their peak.

Banana peppers are a popular pepper variety grown in home gardens. Their sweet and tangy flavor makes them perfect for using fresh in recipes or pickling into a relish. But when is the ideal time to harvest banana peppers for the best results?

As a passionate gardener and pepper enthusiast, I’ve experimented with picking banana peppers at various stages to learn when they have the best texture and flavor. In this article, I’ll share when banana peppers are ripe and ready for picking along with some tips for getting the highest yield from your plants.

An Overview of Banana Pepper Maturity Stages

Banana peppers go through a few color changes as they transition from immature to fully ripe

  • Green – This is the earliest stage when banana peppers are still growing and maturing on the plant. At this point, they will be crunchy but quite bitter tasting.

  • Yellow – Once banana peppers reach their full size, they will turn from green to yellow. This is the ideal stage for picking most varieties.

  • Orange – As banana peppers continue to ripen, they will turn orange and get sweeter in flavor.

  • Red – Fully ripe banana peppers will be red in color. At this final stage, they are at their sweetest but also less crunchy.

So when should you actually start harvesting your banana pepper crop? Let’s take a closer look at the optimal timing.

When to Pick Yellow Banana Pepper Varieties

Most growers prefer to pick yellow banana peppers when they have fully changed from green to yellow but before any orange color develops.

This is typically about 60-80 days after transplanting seedlings into the garden, but the exact timing can vary based on your climate and growing conditions.

Some signs your yellow banana peppers are ready for picking:

  • Pepper is mostly yellow with some light green patches still visible
  • Pepper has reached mature size, generally 4-7 inches long
  • Pepper skin feels firm with a waxy coating
  • The pepper stems snip easily from the plant without tugging

Picking at the yellow stage means your banana peppers will be crunchy, mildly tangy, and perfect for fresh eating or pickling. Leaving them on the plants longer results in softer texture and more sweetness.

Harvesting Hot Banana Pepper Varieties

If you are growing a spicy banana pepper variety, you’ll get the most heat by allowing the peppers to ripen fully to orange or red.

The scoville level steadily increases as hot banana peppers change from green to yellow and eventually red. For maximum spiciness, I recommend picking when:

  • Peppers have turned completely orange or red
  • Peppers look shriveled or have wrinkled skin
  • Peppers are 80-100 days old from transplant date

The longer you leave hot banana peppers on the vine, the hotter they will become. Just keep in mind they will also become softer as the skin breaks down over time.

Tips for Maximizing Your Banana Pepper Harvest

Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years for getting the highest yield from your banana pepper plants:

  • Check plants daily once fruits start maturing – ripe peppers can be easily missed if you only check weekly
  • Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears – pulling peppers off can damage plants
  • Pick early and often – harvesting prompts plants to produce more peppers
  • Leave a few to ripen fully if saving seeds for next year
  • Consider staggered plantings a week or two apart to extend your harvest window

With a little planning, you can enjoy harvests of delicious banana peppers from mid summer into the fall season. I like to enjoy the very first crisp, tangy yellow peppers fresh in salads and then pickle the later fruits that are sweeter and have softer texture.

Preserving Your Banana Pepper Surplus

A prolific banana pepper plant can easily produce more peppers than you can eat fresh. Here are some great ways to preserve them:

  • Pickling – Most popular option; preserves crunch and tangy flavor
  • Freezing – Blanch peppers first; frozen peppers work well chopped in cooked dishes
  • Drying – Excellent method for hot peppers; rehydrate later or grind into powder
  • Hot sauce – Adds delicious flavor; combine with other ingredients and vinegar
  • Pepper relish – Grind into a zesty relish using onions, vinegar, spices

Final Thoughts on Harvesting Banana Peppers

Timing your banana pepper harvests for when the fruits have optimal texture and flavor takes a little practice – and sampling! Starting to pick once they turn yellow allows you to enjoy these special peppers at their freshest.

Paying close attention to maturity stages ensures you can enjoy maximum yields. And having a plan to preserve or make use of any bountiful harvests means none of your precious peppers will go to waste.

Feel their texture (Image credit: Alamy)

A pretty simple test to see if your banana peppers are ready to harvest is by feeling them. When theyre ready, theyll be firm with a glossy and smooth skin.

Gene Caballero, Co-Founder at GreenPal warns, The pepper should feel firm to the touch. A soft or wrinkled pepper might be an indication of over-ripeness or other issues.

Check their size (Image credit: Alamy)

Keep an eye on the size of your banana peppers. They typically reach about 4 to 7 inches in length, depending on the variety. When they hit this size range, theyre usually good to go, recommends Itamar Ben Dor founder of the Green Life blog.

When To Pick Banana Peppers (It’s Sooner Than You Think!) – Pepper Geek


How big should a banana pepper ready to pick?

Traditionally, banana peppers are ready to be picked when they have a pale yellow color and are mature in size (4-8″ long). If they are left on the plant longer, they will continue to change color to orange and finally red.

What to do with banana peppers after picking?

If you have too many and are looking for a way to preserve them, you can pickle them or turn them into jelly or salsa. They’re also tasty on homemade pizza, turned in pepper poppers (with cheese), deep fried or stuffed, or even added to a salad dressing for some extra flavor.

What do banana peppers look like when they’re growing?

They grow 2-3 inches long, some as large as 8 inches, and their curved shape resembles a banana. Their color starts out green and matures to a greenish yellow or even a full yellow, again, just like a banana.

When to pick banana peppers?

Start picking banana peppers when they turn yellow, or about 70 days after planting them. Pick sweet peppers when they’re yellow and hot peppers when they’re a darker orange or red for a more pronounced flavor. Cut the stem with pruning shears at the base of the stalk to pick your banana peppers.

When is the best time to eat bananas?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as everyone’s needs may be different. However, in general, it’s a good idea to eat bananas when you need a quick boost of energy. Bananas are a good source of carbohydrates and potassium, which can help to improve your stamina and endurance. Additionally, eating a banana before exercise may help to improve your performance.

When is the best time of day to harvest banana peppers?

Regarding the best time of day to harvest hot banana peppers, the same rule applies to sweet banana peppers- early in the morning when the temperatures are still cool. This ensures that the peppers are at their freshest and are not basking in the hot sun for too long.

How do you pick banana peppers?

Pick sweet peppers when they’re yellow and hot peppers when they’re a darker orange or red for a more pronounced flavor. Cut the stem with pruning shears at the base of the stalk to pick your banana peppers. How long do you let banana peppers grow before picking them?

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