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.