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28 October 2017

Yes, you can still ripen unripe peppers you’ve pulled from your pepper plants due to frost or other reasons. Here is how.

It’s the end of the chili pepper harvesting season and I’ve just pulled all of the remaining peppers off the plants. Sadness reigns. It was necessary, though, because the weather is calling for frost and frost will destroy anything that is left.

The problem now, though, is I’m stuck with a bag load of green, unripe chili peppers. Should I eat them green? Sure, they are still edible, but they have a raw, green flavor that some may not enjoy. Whatever you do, don’t toss them out because you can still ripen those green peppers.

How to Ripen Unripe Peppers

The Windowsill Method. This is easiest if you only have a few unripe peppers. Simply leave your peppers on a sunny windowsill in a warm room for a few days. They will begin to turn color and ripen in the sun. Once ripened to your liking, store them in the refrigerator or use them right away. If they start to go soft, throw them out.

The Paper Bag Method. Store the unripe peppers in a paper bag with a ripe tomato or apple. This also works with green tomatoes. The ripe fruit will speed the ripening process and your peppers (and tomatoes) should ripen in a week or longer.

Note that temperature is an important factor when ripening your peppers indoors. The peppers will ripen more quickly at room temperature, and more slowly at cooler temps.

The Branch Method. Another trick is to hang them upside down while still attached to their branches, indoors, and they will continue to ripen. This will, of course, require you to remove at least the plant branches, but at end of season, it won’t really matter.

Realistically, peppers do continue to ripen on their own after you’ve picked them, so even if you keep them in a small bin at room temperature, they should ripen up for you in about a week or two, though be sure to check on them periodically to make sure none of them goes bad.

Let me know what methods work best for you!

Enjoy your bountiful pepper harvest! Check out other methods for Preserving Chili Peppers.



  1. Laurie Van Unen

    5 stars
    I have picked 6 gallons of mixed chile peppers. I have read your advice on ripening. What do you think about fermenting green chile peppers for hot sauce

  2. I just picked my green fruit, since it’s supposed to be in the low 30’s here in Nebraska tonight. Have about 30 peppers that I put in a open Tupperware tub to ripen. Should this work?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      It can work, Joe. Maybe try adding a tomato to the mix if you can. Place it close the window with some light, if possible. Let me know how it goes. If you see signs of softening or rot, refrigerate immediately.

  3. I’ve got 4 habanero plants in pots on my deck. Two of the plants have nice sized fruit…all green. The other two are farther behind…still with flowers and very small fruit just coming on. Will the fruit continue to develop if I just keep them indoors in the pots?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Don, yes, though you’ll need to make sure the plants have plenty of light and warmer temps. They should continue to ripen so you can pick them.

  4. 4 stars
    Hey CPM!,
    I pick my “green” hotties when there is extended mid -low 40° Temps forecasted.
    I’ve hung them, placed them on windowsills (all over the house, lol) and paper bagged them. For the past several years, I lay them out on MANY tables in several tents with grow lights, heat, fans, etc in my basement lab. I get it, some folks don’t do what I do & don’t need or have the these specialized resources. Folks that are sane, only have 8 or 10 pepper plants. Ive NEVER been called sane! Lol
    Whichever ripening method a person uses, there’s NOTHING better than doing a little research & figuring out what’s best for them or their circumstances.

  5. Ed… that do cross pollinate but parent plants will still be what you planted. Like in your example your habenero would still produce habenero peppers and same with ghost. The next generation or seeds would be reapers since that is how they were originally

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Faye, probably best to just leave them on the windowsill in the sunlight to let them ripen.

  6. Dont plant different peppers next each other. I planted a Ghost pepper next to my older Habernero and they cross pollinated, producing bastard unusable fruit

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Peppers can cross-pollinate, but the results don’t show up until you plant the seeds from those pods.

      1. Yessss! People really struggle with this concept. The fruit are not the current plant’s ‘offspring’, it’s the seeds within the fruit. The fruit will be the genetic makeup of the parent plant.

      2. Yeah your right. Not sure what that guy was on about. If his chillis were inedible then they were always going to be, regardless of pollination.

  7. Hi,
    I live 800feet, 244m above sea level in the Pennines, N England . This is the first time I’ve grown chillies. There are lots of green chillies in my greenhouse. With the weather set to get cold in the next month or so, how can I ripen them? Average temp is 13degC and 10 hours of daylight, 4 hours of sun if I’m lucky.

  8. Wayne L smith

    I have ghost pepper growing outside here in Oklahoma, it’s been hot and all of my habaneros have turned red and the ghost peppers are still green. Both types of peppers became peppers at the same time. Will the ghost peppers eventually turn red

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Wayne, yes, some peppers ripen at different times from others.

  9. Erik Williams

    Can the seeds be saved still for planting if it has to finish ripening off of the vine?

  10. Hi,
    I’m in Dallas and it was a hot summer with little rain. I was growing Habenaro’s Ghost Peppers, 7 Pot Douglahs, and Chocolate Carolina reapers. Didn’t get any flowers until the heat broke and that was September. I got plenty of peppers but hardly any ripened. Picked all the green ones today as we are getting a freeze. I will try the apple in a bag method. I would hate to lose all these peppers. 16 plants in all. My chocolate reapers are the size of a plum to peach.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hey, Carlo. Yeah, that’s a lot of peppers. I hope you can save some of them. You can still process some of them green, but they won’t be as good as ripe. I hope they ripen up for you! Good luck.

  11. Thanks for the tip! I have two plants full of ghost peppers, and a pretty good bundle of halbaneos, which are still on the plants, here in Delaware. I’ve managed a total of about three red ghosts this year, and while the halbaneos have yielded like crazy, I still have plants full of green peppers. That’s my high-class problem. The japapaneos, bells, and poblanos barely had any fruit this year.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      5 stars
      Glad to help, Dave! Gotta save as many peppers as we can!

  12. Help! While I was in the shower my toddler ripped off all my peppers, I promised them to some friends who want to make spicy mead. Can I still save them? Half of the peppers had already turned red but a bunch are still completely green. It took so much work to save the plant during a huge drought this summer so I’m pretty bumbed out..

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Sanne, bummer! Refrigerate them right away, and for the unripe ones, try the techniques on this page. You can still use them green, however. Best of luck!

  13. Allison Allsopp

    I pull out the whole plant, shake off excess soil, and hang by the root (this just makes for easy access to the peppers) in the pantry.

  14. I have so many green peppers on my plant, I think they’re Serrano. I have tried both just windowsill and paper bag techniques, but all that happened was they’ve dried out? Especially the window sill ones. All wrinkly. No idea how to ripen as none are even close to ripening. Any help welcomed! I’m in London. MANy thanks.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Ankit, sometimes the peppers just won’t ripen any further, unfortunately, or they’ll only continue to ripen a bit for a day or 2, then they stop. You need to watch them. If you notice any signs of beginning softness or withering, refrigerate them right away and try to use them green.

  15. I purchased 2 pounds of jalapeño at grocery store. Left them in the plastic bag and 1 turned orange overnight. Just one. After 2 days, it was red. Just one. Why just one?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Jan, peppers can definitely ripen at different rates. You’ll see that on plants as well. I would take the ripe ones and refrigerate them as they ripen. I hope this helps!

  16. Alejandro Martinez Chaves

    Hi, if I use any of this techniques to ripe my Carolina rippersor or my ghost pepper will the heat be affected?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Alejandro, no, this won’t affect your ghost pepper heat. Good luck!

  17. Hi! It is that time of year to make my salsa and my ghost peppers are still very green. My garden did not get a lot of sun this year and have had lots of rain. I was wondering if picking the peppers still green and setting them on my deck in the sun will ripen them to red within a week? Will they lose there heat if picked early?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Sue, the peppers will continue to ripen in the sun. You just need to keep an eye on them. They may stay green, depending on a number of factors. Make sure they don’t rot. You can still use them green. I like to make a green hot sauce sometimes with my unripened peppers at end of season. They will still be pretty hot. FYI.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Nancy, Blossom End Rot is caused by a calcium deficiency. You may need to add some calcium to your soil.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Matt, once you freeze the peppers, they will no longer ripen. I would ripen them first, then freeze them.

  18. Hi Mike, I have found that just by placing the peppers on a plate with a paper towel underneath them, they will ripen just dandy. If they sit on a plate by themselves, oils come out and could soften the bottoms. The paper towel soaks it up and they will ripen whether in a window or not. I haven’t tried the paper bag method as I like to see and watch them ripen. I get to use them whatever shade I want. This method is also a great prep prior to dehydrating them, especially if you have a bunch of them. When I pick a bunch, I let them soak in a bowl/large butter container for a bit, then rinse each off and place directly onto the paper toweled plate. They then air dry and will continue to ripen until I am ready, be it that day or the following weekend.

  19. Michael Moore

    Hi Mike, many thanks for all your information and knowledge in the world of chillies, I’ve used and loved your recipes for some time. This year, I was looking forward to a bumper harvest from my chilli plants – they were covered in flowers during early summer. However, the majority of the fruits have failed to develop to their full size. The plants have hundreds of tiny chillies, about the size of a raspberry. The ones mainly affected include the bhut jolokia, scotch bonnets, Carolina Reaper, and Big Sun. I live in the UK and I grow the chillies in an unheated greenhouse. Have you ever experienced this problem and have you any idea what causes it? Many thanks for your help, Mike Moore

    REPLY: Thanks, Mike. Yes, I have actually had this problem before. It could be the plants are not getting enough water, or it could just be a climate issue and how you planted the peppers. Since it is an issue with all of them, you might adjust your watering schedule and work in some fertilizer. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  20. Thanks Mike and Patty – I use the paper bag method in a dark space – prob is that I forget to check and sometimes they go bad.

    Keep up the recipes – love them.


  21. Thank you so much for sharing this! I’very done this for green tomatoes for years but it never occurred to me that the same thing applied to chili peppers! I’m going out to pick all mine cause it’s starting to get pretty cold here in Oregon. I love your site!

    REPLY: Thanks, Rita! — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

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