Question of the Week
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Is it a problem with your jalapeno plants when your fruits turn red? No, it’s just natural. If you’re growing jalapenos for the first time, or you’ve never lost track of harvesting them and let them go too long, you may not have noticed that a natural development of these fruit is the reddening when they actually ripen. They are fine and still quite edible.
Normally we harvest them green, which stops their development, because they’re much more tender and tasty at this stage. But if left on the vine, they do indeed turn red and begin to dry out, the way any seed pod does. Because we’re usually interested in eating the flesh of the pepper, we don’t want it to dry out, so we harvest them green, while the flesh is still nice and juicy. And if allowed to ripen, that valuable flesh begins to dry-up and the flavor changes.
You may see red-flesh jalapenos sold in the market, but more often you won’t: most red jalapenos are dried, smoked, and given a completely new name: chipotle. Chipotle peppers are used in cooking to provide a unique smoky flavor, and not the heat normally associated with jalapenos. So if your jalapenos are turning red before you can harvest them, that’s just a sign that you need to eat more jalapenos, or that you need to experiment with creating some chipotles.