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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.

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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.


  4. 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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