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How To Ripen Chillies

A question we are getting asked all of the time at this time of year is how to speed up the ripening process that occurs naturally in your chillies.

In nature the two things that help your chilli peppers ripen are a constant warm temperature and long sunny days (lot of light). As summer fades away and the cooler short autumn days approach it becomes much harder for your pepper plants to ripen the fruit they are bearing. The cooler temperatures and lack of heat caused by autumns shorter days simply means that your chilli plants do not have the energy to ripen their fruit.

Move your chilli plants indoors

Perhaps the easiest way to solve one of these problems (cooler temperatures) is to move your plants indoors. Ideally a south facing conservatory or windowsill is best as this will hopefully allow the plant to enjoy a constant warm temperature while still maximizing the amount of sunlight it receives.

If possible avoid putting your chillies in the fridge. Doing so will of course keep them fresher for longer however it will not help them ripen and some say the cooler temperatures of a fridge can breakdown the naturally occurring sugars, impacting both the taste and heat of the peppers.

Ripen Your Chillies Off the Plant

As with virtually all fruit and vegetables you can simply pick your chillies while still unripe and allow them to ripen naturally by storing them in a dry place in the kitchen. This works really well particularly when the chillies are already partially ripe. If you decide to adopt this approach and have quite a few chillies then perhaps one of the best (and most decorative) ways to ripen them indoors is to make a chillie ristra.

The Old Wives Approach To Ripening Chillies

One technique we heard about recently which sounds interesting is to place your harvested chillies in a brown paper bag with a couple of ripe apples. Apparently this helps speed up the ripening process. This sounds a bit like the theory that banana skins helping to ripen fruit. We’ve been unable to find out if this works or what the science is behind it but it may be worth a go!

Be sure to let us know which chillie ripening method has worked best for you by leaving a comment below.

8 comments… add one
  • Chuck October 19, 2018, 3:15 pm

    I keep tropical marine fish and corals which need strong light,so I put my chilli under those lights and they ripen in a day or two

    • The Chilli King December 28, 2018, 2:41 pm

      Chuck – That’s interesting…what sort of light do you use? UV? LED?

  • Made in Quebec September 11, 2018, 2:53 pm

    In nature, birds come to eat peppers as they ripen. The pepper plant will then put its energy into maturing the others more quickly.

    During the summer, if you remove the peppers as soon as they are ripe, it will force the plant to produce new flowers, thus producing more peppers. In the fall, the plant will not produce new flowers, but will put all its energy into maturing the remaining ones.

  • Eva August 22, 2013, 12:33 pm

    I ripen my chillies by placing on kitchen paper and leave for a couple of day in light airy kitchen bench, works for me.

  • Morten Friis-Olivarius October 24, 2011, 6:06 am

    Fruits produce the colorless gas Ethylene when they ripe (especially apples, avocados, pears and peaches). Ethylen function as a planthormone that will hasten ripening, breaking down of cells in the fruit, as well as the deterioration of chlorophyll (thus the change from green to a riper color, depending on the plant). The released ethylene gas will effect other fruit or vegetables that are near by and make them ripe and release ethylene. So its a self-reinforcing process. An over-ripe apple produce extreme levels of ethylene and any nearby fruit will soon be over-ripe as well.
    This is why we say that ‘one bad apple spoils the bunch’.

  • Ras Skipper September 9, 2010, 10:05 am

    I got a hundread or so bonnets, they are ripening 1 every 2 days on the plants outside (london) Im just gonna leave em on for as long as possible.

  • James Pace July 4, 2010, 9:43 am

    Hey Chilli King,

    I’m growing scotch bonnets and the fruits are still green after growing for a few weeks, If I pick them off will they turn red or stay green?

    • The Chilli King July 5, 2010, 9:53 am

      James Pace – Hi James, try placing a banana skin near your plants – this should help speed up the ripening process. Chillies will continue to ripen off the plant (a bit) but i always try to leave them on the plant as far as possible.

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