Why Do Jalapenos Turn Red

Why Do Jalapenos Turn Red and Why Are They Picked Green?

If you’re a spicy food lover like me, then jalapenos are a necessity in your groceries. But have you ever wondered at some point why jalapenos turn red with time? 

If they’re considered ripe when they’re red, wouldn’t it make sense to pick them and sell them when they turn red? It seems like the logical move, right? 

Yet, jalapenos are picked when they’re green. You mostly find green jalapenos in stores with no red ones in sight. Why is that? Let’s find out!

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Why Do Jalapenos Turn Red?

Jalapenos turning red simply means they’re at the final stages of ripeness and maturity. 

That doesn’t mean that green jalapenos aren’t ripe; they’re simply in different stages of ripeness. 

Will Green Picked Jalapenos Go Red
Will Green Picked Jalapenos Go Red

They start reaching maturity after 5-6 months from planting. The green color is the beginning of its ripening journey, and it grows riper (and increasingly red) from there. 

Jalapenos are among many other kinds of chili and can be picked when they’re green or when they’re red. They change into the red color you’re familiar with whether they’re left on the plant or picked up when they’re green and left at home. 

If you plant them yourself, keep in mind to pick them up as soon as possible when they turn red on the plant. 

Otherwise, the peppers will go from red to wine red, and eventually black. This means they’re rotten and not suitable for cooking or eating. 

Jalapenos can stay fully ripe for a few weeks, but the earlier you pick them up, the better.

Are Red Jalapenos More Spicy?

In most cases, red jalapenos are spicier than green ones because the older the plant gets, the spicier it becomes.

Jalapenos are commonly used in Tex Mex Pastes

Fun fact: even though red jalapenos are spicier, they’re actually sweeter than green ones. This is because the plant is fully ripe when it has its red colors. 

Why Are Jalapenos Picked Green?
Why Are Jalapenos Picked Green?

Why Are Jalapenos Picked Green?

If jalapenos are ripe when they’re red, shouldn’t we just pick them when they’re red? The short answer is no.

Picking jalapenos when they’re green is ideal because they give people time to figure out which taste they want to go for since red jalapenos are spicier and sweeter. 

If you pick them red, there’s no going back. You’re stuck with the sweet and spicy taste.

Another fun fact about jalapenos is that when the plant gets stressed, it tends to grow lines that resemble stretch marks. These lines can be a good indicator of whether the plant is spicy or not because the more stressed the plant is, the spicier it becomes and the more lines and marks it’ll have.

So if you’re looking for good pepper with average spice, go for the green ones that don’t have a lot of marks on them. 

If you’re looking to get a spicy taste, go for the red ones that have a lot of marks on them. These have an extremely spicy taste so be sure to eat them reasonably.

How to Reduce the Heat from Hot Chili Peppers

Jalapeno peppers are harvested at different stages of ripeness depending on where they’re grown.  The best way to reduce the heat is to remove the seeds from the jalapeno pepper.

Jalapeno peppers may be harvested when they are green and about 3 inches long.

When green Jalapenos are fresh and crisp, but rather mild. As time goes on they begin to turn red. Now they get a little hotter and some varieties also get sweeter.

Will Green Jalapenos Turn Red?

Jalapeno peppers will ripen from green to red at different rates depending on where they grow. They’re harvested when they reach a certain color, which varies by variety.  With good water and sunlight, they will change from green to yellow to red. 

However, if Jalapenos are picked when they are green they will typically not turn red. The best way to have a ripe one is to let them stay in the plant until they turn red.

Why do Jalapeño Peppers Have Lines

The lines on a jalapeno pepper are called stress lines or some people refer to a very cracked one as having “scales” because they look like scales. The older the jalapeno they usually have more lines.

Can You Pick Jalapenos When They Are Still Green?

Yes, you can. The answer comes down to a bit of chemistry because if they are picked young they do not usually change to red, so you will be stuck with a green one.

You can still use them, however, and they will be less hot than a red one.