Habanero peppers are pretty hot compared to the regular jalapeños, which are ten times spicier and hotter, and not many people can keep up with their intensity.
However, people who are spice lovers like adding a hint of habanero peppers, either in the form of crushed dry peppers or as fresh ripped, thinly cut pepper slices to brighten up the dishes, both visually and flavor-wise.
It’s the classic component of nearly all Mexican dishes but is also a great staple when pickled with onions and gorgeously slathered on spicy homemade chicken pizza or honey habanero ground beef/fish tacos.
It is essential to know that if consume too much, it can be harmful, but as long as you’re not using them quite too often, they shouldn’t cause any digestive problems.
Over time it has established that habanero peppers also have different species with different spice levels. The spice level of these peppers also depends on when they are harvested.
Fully ripened habanero peppers are red in color, more flavorful, have a slightly sweeter taste, and are the spiciest.
The green raw habaneros are still edible, but they give this raw flavor that some may not enjoy.
If you are someone who has pulled the unripe green habaneros from the pepper plants due to changing weather conditions, especially the frost, I would say you had made the right choice, as the pepper can still ripen off the plants.
If you had left them there on the plants, frost would have destroyed everything that was left.
In this article, we will explain how you can ripen your habanero peppers off the vine, so don’t toss out your unripe peppers and read more to learn different ways to save them.
How To Ripen Habanero Peppers?
- Choose the Right Peppers
There is no guarantee that you will be able to ripen a green habanero pepper, but you can maximize your chances of doing so if you know how to pick the right peppers.
That’s true, for whether you are harvesting peppers from your backyard garden or buying peppers at the farmer’s market or from a store, you must ensure before picking the peppers that they already have a little color.
This little color can show up as purplish or brownish areas early in the ripening process on peppers that will be red when fully ripe.
The main principle you should keep in mind is: When a pepper has started to ripen, it will usually continue to mature.
Note that green pods will only ripen to their mature color if the ripening process has already begun before you pick them off the plant.
If your green peppers have not started to turn color after 3-4 days at room temperature, they will unlikely ripen.
Use them up as you like, or preserve them for later use. If you are not fond of green habaneros, you can simply toss them away because keeping them up would not change their flavor or color.
If you have successfully picked the right habaneros, remember that it is necessary to keep your pepper warm to change its color entirely and ripen them fully.
Storing it in the refrigerator will halt its ripening, so it’s not recommended at all.
- The Windowsill Method
Depending upon the status of the peppers and the time of their harvest, you might have to wait around a few days to a few weeks to ripen the habanero peppers.
If you harvested the peppers before they were entirely red, the windowsill method is the easiest way to ripe them.
You could rip them simply by leaving them close to a sunny window for a few days.
The sunlight and the heat will ripen your peppers, and they will gradually start changing their colors from green to yellow to orange until they turn radiant red in color.
At this stage, they have developed the exclusive intense taste that you’re looking for in those peppers.
Once ripened to your liking, you can process these peppers and use them as an ingredient in your recipes or refrigerate them before they start crinkling and lose their freshness.
While you are ripening your habanero peppers through the windowsill method, you don’t have to do anything else except focus on just one main thing, which is the room temperature.
Note that temperature is an essential factor when ripening your peppers indoors.
The peppers will ripen more quickly at room temperature and more slowly at a cooler temperature. The best temperature for habaneros to ripen quickly is around 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
So, if you are living in a colder area, make sure to keep them where the sun shines.
You can also try keeping them in a metal container near a heat source, as during the few hours when the sun shines brightest, the container will also get heated up, and even after the sun has gone behind the clouds, your peppers will have comparatively a better temperature than outside until the metal container loses all its heat, giving your peppers few extra hours of that warm temperature to ripen.
- The Paper Bag or Cardboard Box Method
The paper bag OR cardboard method is another easy way to ripen your habanero peppers. This method works best for people who live in relatively colder regions where the temperature goes extremely low.
If you inhabit one such polar area where there’s not enough sunlight to ripen the peppers through the windowsill method and have pulled your peppers off the vine to protect them from the frost, use this method to fully grow your raw green habaneros.
The cardboard or paper bag method entails storing all the unripe peppers in a paper bag or cardboard box spaced apart atop multiple sheets of newspaper with ripe tomatoes or apples.
This method also works with green tomatoes. The already-ripened tomato or apple releases a phytohormone called ethylene.
Ethylene is essential for the ripening of many fruits, so exposing the unripe habaneros to it will speed up the process. Your peppers should ripen to a beautiful red color over two to three weeks.
- The Branch Method
Another trick is to remove the branches of the plants over which the peppers hang. Of course, this will slightly knock down the appearance of your habanero plant, but at the end of the season, it won’t matter.
To ripen your habaneros through the branch method, hang them upside down while they are still attached to their branches indoors, and they will continue to ripen.
The ripening process will be faster if you keep the branches with hanging habaneros in sunlight or warm temperature. If that is not possible, you can let those branches sit in some corner of your house, and they will ripe at room temperature.
It is critical to check on your habaneros once in a while to see if they are ripening well and ensure none of them goes bad. Removing the ones that have gone bad is also helpful in speeding up the ripening process for the remaining ones.
4 Signs That Your Habaneros Are Fully Ripened
- Color: habaneros will start green, but over time, they will turn yellow to orange to bright red. Its deep red color indicates that it’s fully mature now.
- Size: generally, habanero peppers are 1-3 inches long when fully ripened. However, there seems to be a varying pattern between pepper cultivars and varieties.
- Crocking: mature habaneros display signs of crocking. When peppers grow faster than their outer skin can match, it causes superficial scarring and is often a good sign that the habaneros are close to maturity.
- Time: temperature is one main factor that affects how quickly habaneros mature. On average, they require 90-120 days to grow and become ripe.
Ideally, it would be great if you waited for the color of habaneros to deepen before you harvest the peppers because they will ripen quicker as long as they are with the plant.
However, having them off is a better choice than losing them if you don’t have favorable conditions, as they can ripen even when picked off the plant.
It can take a few weeks to ripen the habanero peppers if you’ve harvested them before due time. It is essential to pick the right peppers with a little brownish/purplish color that indicates they have started ripening.
If you pick them before this stage has reached, your pepper is unlikely to ripen.
After you have chosen the peppers, you can either keep them near a sunny window or any other heat source or with an already ripened fruit to aid the procedure.
They should ripen on their own as long as they get sufficient and balanced heat. The temperature of the container will determine how long it will take for these peppers to ripen.
You want to see a bright orange and red shade, habaneros size, and crocking signs that will indicate that these peppers are ready for use.