When to Pick Serrano Peppers: The Red Hot Chile Peppers

In the Americas, when we talk about peppers, we usually associate it with Mexico. From this country south of the border, you can find peppers of assorted varieties. No matter what variety, they can really excite the taste buds. Some are sweet, some hot and some really, really hot. Perhaps the most popular of these is the jalapeno pepper. It is widely used in salsas, enchiladas, tacos, burritos and in everything Mexican.

Closely related to the jalapeno is the Serrano pepper. It looks exactly like the jalapeno but is smaller, about 1-4 inches in length and half an inch wide. Some kinds can grow even bigger.

These peppers are usually green but may also be brown, red, yellow or orange. Because the Serrano is a meaty pepper, it is not an ideal choice for drying. It is best used fresh. One important property of this small pepper is that they can pack a kick and are a lot hotter than the jalapeno.

Like the jalapeno, the Serrano appears in many Mexican dishes. These include salsas, garnishes, relishes, and more. Their flavors become more intense when roasted. Jalapenos may bite but Serrano peppers will kick. This small pepper is always a welcome addition to many meals either solo or in dishes.

The History Of Serrano Peppers

Because of its intensely hot property, Mexicans use the Serrano to flavor many dishes. This pepper has appeared in Mexican dishes for centuries.

It has rooted itself in almost all its cuisine. They originated from the mountainous Mexican states of Puebla and Hidalgo. "Sierra" is the Spanish term for mountain. And the term Serrano is just a derivative of the word.

Knowing When The Serrano Peppers Are Ripe

The walls of the Serrano peppers are relatively thin. These will change color to either red, orange, brown or yellow when they ripen. Here are some signs to look for to indicate that the pepper is ripe:

Color

The different colors of the pepper will also indicate its degree of heat. The peppers start green and change color as they ripen. From green, they become yellow, orange, brown or red. You can therefore do your picking whenever the color you want appears.

If your palate prefers mild flavors, choose the green ones. If you crave for intense heat, the red ones will be your challenge.

Size

Two to three inches is the average length of the Serrano pepper. They are however harvested when they are 3-5 inches in length and half an inch wide.

Among gardeners and users, this is the usual size. But bear in mind that the size will also determine the pepper's flavor and heat level. The smaller the pepper, the more heat it will pack.

Temperature

The best season to plant the Serrano peppers is during warm conditions. The reason for this is that these peppers have a propensity for warm weather. You need to make a plan when growing Serrano peppers. Time it by picking the right months when the hottest temperatures occur.

Thickness

There isn't much difference if the pepper's skin is thin or thick. They would still release the same heat and flavor, regardless of the skin's thickness. It is not even a factor in ripeness. But it is significant when preparing it for cooking.

Thin-skinned varieties of these peppers are easier to peel. This means that they are also much easier to prepare. In fact, some do not peel them anymore. Thick-skinned peppers are harder to prepare. However, many people still prefer the peppers with thick skins. Thick ones add some crunch in dishes like Pico de Gallo and salsas.

Tips For Harvesting Your Serrano Peppers

You need to follow the correct planting procedures. When you do this, there will be no reason why you won't be making a good harvest of Serrano peppers. The procedures are simple but need to be rigidly followed. You need to plant them at the right season.

You also must consider plant spacing, regular watering, and application of fertilizers. With ideal conditions and right procedures, you can start picking the peppers in a few months. Serrano peppers require about 80 days of growth before you can start harvesting them. Here are some pointers to remember before harvest:

Have These Tools On Hand

  • A knife
  • A pair of clippers
  • Some containers
  • A pair of plastic or rubber gloves

Steps To Follow

  • You can make use of a knife or a clipper to harvest the Serrano peppers. Cut only from the stems and gently remove them from the main plant.
  • People commonly harvest red and green colored peppers. This is because they are the most excellent shades and have the highest levels of hotness. For milder flavoring, pick the orange and yellow colored ones.
  • Do your harvesting when the peppers are dry. This is a great tactic as it helps in the prevention of spreading diseases.
  • Wear plastic or rubber gloves when harvesting. Do this as pepper oils can cause skin irritations and burning sensations. Never attempt to touch your face, especially your eyes or mouth when harvesting. This can cause some painful experiences. Whether gloved or not, still wash your hands thoroughly right after the harvest.
  • You can easily detach peppers which are fully ripe from their stems. Otherwise, use your knife or clipper. Small brown lines that occur on your peppers is also an indication that the peppers are right for the picking. No matter what their sizes are, if these lines appear, you can start picking anytime.

Conclusion

Spend some quality time in your garden when growing Serrano peppers. The plants need continuous supervision and correct application of gardening procedures. But all these should start with the seeds.

Get yourself quality-bred seeds for quality fruits for quality flavor and heat. With these on hand, your salsas and Pico de Gallo dishes should taste Mexican all the way! Just wait until harvest time comes. You couldn't be any prouder than seeing the fruits of your labor. You'll enjoy their color, their sizes and hopefully, their hot flavor.

Leslie J. Shearer
 

Gardening is my passion and I have a deep relationship with nature. Growing plants and digging deep to germinate flowers and vegetables brings positivity in my life. With this blog, I hope I will be able to share my wonderful gardening experiences with the interested readers.

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