Harvesting Your Chillies
Harvesting, arguably the best part of the growing season. Pick the first couple of fruits, from each plant, when they are green to encourage heavy, further cropping.
If fruits are left on the plant, the fruits will slowly change colour and develop a sweeter, or hotter, flavour.
Not all chillies mature to red. Different varieties can mature to almost any colour. Check the instructions on the label or seed packet, or venders website, to know when to pick your fruit. Fruit that matures purple or green are the hardest to gauge and take some practice, to get right.
It is best to cut the fruit from the plant, rather than risk damage or disease through ripping or pulling at the fruit.
If fruit is left to ripen on the plant, new flowers are not formed and this can lead to a reduction in yield by 25% or more. Because the mature fruits are more colourful and better flavoured, the lower yield of mature fruit is often thought to be worthwhile. The first fruits should be ready for picking under cover from July or outdoors from August.
Pick as much fruit as you can before the first frosts. Any fruit that has started to ripen, no matter how little, with fully ripen off the plant. Put it somewhere warm and light to fully ripen.
At the end of the season, peppers and chillies can be harvested and used fresh or made into pickles, sauces, vegetable ferments or salts based products. Chillies will eventually shrivel up and dry on the plant or can be picked and dried in an airing cupboard and used as flakes or powders, in cooking.