I currently have 3 habanero plants growing. I am planning on making and bottling a small amount of hot sauce. My habaneros are approximately 1-inch long, and still green. I have been searching the internet for 2 days now trying to figure out how to harvest them. I know when to harvest, and I know I need to use rubber and not latex gloves. My question is, should I just pull the fruit off of the plant, or should I use scissors to snip them off? I’ve never ever grown anything before, but I’ve found that I love it and next summer I hope to grow a full garden. But I need to know if I should snip them off, or if that will hurt the plant. Thank you very much for your time.
Answer: There are many ways to judge when to harvest your hot peppers. The best clues will come from the color of the fruit. Depending on your variety the mature color could be reds or oranges. Some varieties also develop small stress strips as they reach full size.
The right time to pick may also depend on what you intend to use the peppers for. If you need them to stay crisp you might choose to pick them before they start to turn red, but habaneros are generally left to ripen to full color for your variety. Try picking at different stages to determine your preferred taste and crispness. If you notice signs of insect damage, pick the fruit before it deteriorates any further.
Most of the peppers don’t break off easily, so use a pair of clippers or scissors to cut them. Do make sure you wear impermeable gloves and wash your hands thoroughly before wiping sweat from your face or rubbing your eyes. Milk is the best cure if you get the oils on your skin or body parts!
Chilies can be kept refrigerated for up to a week. Leave the stem on and store in a paper bag for the longest period of storage before they start to spoil.
I hope your hot sauce is wonderful!