When and How To Pick and Harvest Poblano Peppers

So you’re starting to see some peppers pop up on your plant. Good! That is why you’re growing vegetables, after all. But…now what? When do you pick them? And how?

You can begin harvesting poblano peppers as soon as they turn dark green and are about 4 inches long. If your poblanos continue to ripen, they will eventually turn a deep red and their Scoville Heat Unit rating will double – up to 2,000 units! Use clean, sharp shears when harvesting poblanos. Store them properly to extend their shelf life.

Keep reading to learn all about harvesting poblano peppers.

When should you pick or harvest poblano peppers?

You may as well not grow poblanos at all if you don’t know how to harvest them!

You should pick or harvest poblano peppers when they turn dark green and are at least 4 inches long. If you want them to reach full maturity, wait until they are a deep red. The longer you wait, the spicier they become. Use clean, sharp shears and store your poblanos properly.

Poblano peppers are unique because you can pick them at multiple stages.

Dark green poblanos are technically still “immature” but are incredibly popular. They’re a tad spicy and add more flavor to a dish than your typical bell pepper.

But if you wait for your poblanos to reach full maturity, they can double in spiciness!

This gives you plenty of options, and you can get completely different peppers all from the same plant.

What if my poblanos never get longer than 4 inches?

It’s recommended that poblano peppers reach at least 4 inches before harvesting. But if your fruit seems to be stunted, what are you supposed to do?

If your poblanos never get longer than 4 inches, you may need to fertilize them. They also may need more sun or more or less water. That being said, sometimes Mother Nature has a mind of her own and things don’t grow well even if everything is “perfect.” If you’ve exhausted all your options, it’s okay to harvest peppers that are shorter than 4 inches.

If your poblanos never get longer than 4 inches, they may be in need of fertilizer. Fertilization will boost pepper growth and help your fruits grow bigger and healthier.

If you fertilize your pepper plants, and they’re planted in the sun with proper moisture, and they’re free of pests…the poblanos really should get longer than 4 inches. But if one of these factors is off, it’s not unlikely to have small fruit.

Truth be told, sometimes everything is textbook perfect and your plants still won’t cooperate. That’s okay! It’s part of gardening.

If your poblanos never get longer than 4 inches no matter what you do, you should still harvest them when they reach dark green or red.

What color are ripe poblano peppers?

Poblano peppers can be a bit confusing for beginners because of their different stages of ripeness.

Truly ripe poblano peppers are a very deep red, nearly black. Poblano peppers can also be harvested while they’re still “immature,” at which point they will be dark green. Ripe poblano peppers can be double as hot as immature poblano peppers.

Truly ripe poblano peppers are so red that they are almost black. “Immature” poblanos are dark green. 

Green poblanos are incredibly popular and may even be what comes to mind when you think of poblano peppers. But you should let some of your peppers reach full maturity if you want to try something new!

Are poblano peppers hotter when they turn red?

Red means hot, right?

Poblano peppers are hotter when they turn red. This is because capsaicin – the molecule that causes peppers to be hot – increases throughout a pepper’s life. Immature poblano peppers are around 1,000 Scoville Heat Units, while red poblanos are closer to 2,000. That’s double as hot!

Poblano peppers are hotter when they turn red. Poblano peppers can range anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 Scoville Heat Units. While immature peppers are nearer to the 1,000 mark, red poblano peppers can reach as high as 2,000 units.

To compare, a mild jalapeno pepper is around 3,000 units.

Capsaicin is the molecule behind pepper heat. It’s even used in hot and cold massage roll-ons and salves!

The reason peppers get hotter as they age is that the amount of capsaicin increases as they grow.

Are poblano peppers still good when they turn red?

Can poblano peppers get too red?

Poblano peppers are still good when they turn red. In fact, a red color means they are fully ripe. That being said, the riper something is, the closer it is to going bad. You have to keep an eye out for rot and pests at this stage. There are plenty of ways to store your peppers so they have a long shelf life.

Poblano peppers are still good when they turn red. That is, so long as you pick them before they rot or pests get to them!

There are many ways to store your red poblano peppers to extend their shelf life.

How to pick or harvest poblano peppers properly

Now let’s dig into exactly how to pick or harvest poblano peppers!

Here’s how to pick or harvest poblano peppers properly:

  • Grow happy, healthy poblano plants. You can speed up how quickly your poblano peppers grow to get the happiest plants possible!
  • Use sharp shears to cut the pepper stem. It’s important that you sanitize your shears before cutting to avoid spreading pathogens from other plants.
  • Be sure not to tug on the branch too hard! As big and sturdy that poblano pepper plants may get, you never want to tug on a veggie’s branch unnecessarily.
  • Wash your hands to avoid getting capsaicin in your eyes. Handle hot peppers with care! 
  • Store your peppers correctly. Storing your peppers correctly will extend their shelf life so all your hard work doesn’t go to waste.
  • Only wash your peppers when you’re ready to use them! Washing peppers before you’re ready to use them will only add unnecessary moisture that can attract mold and pathogens.