Here's a good question about harvesting peppers from reader Amy:
My peppers did not ripen before the frost. Is there anything that I can do with these so that they will still ripen or any way to preserve them (other than freezing)? Any suggestions would be appreciated!
Mature peppers of many varieties start off green, and gradually turn yellow, then red, as they ripen. Green bell peppers are cheaper than red and yellow because they are unripe and not as sweet. If peppers stay on the plant longer they will naturally turn into those stoplight sweet yellow and red peppers we love.
Amy, peppers are like tomatoes in that they will continue to ripen after being picked. Like tomatoes, they are better when ripened naturally on the plant, but they will still be delicious when ripened indoors. We consulted the University of Minnesota extension site, and they recommend placing unripe peppers and tomatoes in a paper bag or box with a ripe tomato. Ripe tomatoes give off ethylene gas, which will speed ripening in other fruits and vegetables.
They also give a guide for temperatures:
• Green, mature tomatoes and peppers stored at 65-70 degrees, will ripen in about 2 weeks. Cooler temperatures slow the ripening process.
• At 55 degrees, they will ripen in 3-4 weeks. Storage temperatures below 50 degrees will slow ripening, but results in inferior quality.
We think that unriper peppers placed in a bag will probably ripen, gradually, in about a week to two weeks.
Any other advice for Amy and her peppers?
Related: Weekend Project: Roasting and Storing Peppers
(Image: Flickr member Thomas Hawk licensed for use under Creative Commons)