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Grow-How

Fresh Chiles

When and How Do I Pick My Fresh Chiles?

Chiles change in color, flavor and heat level during their growth. While some have a "green" flavor when used in their immature stage, others have a milder flavor better suited for many uses. Some chiles are best eaten in their green stage, Serranos for example are usually used for salsas when green, versus red and mature. Another example is that chiles to be pickled are best picked before they reach their mature size and color, so that they will stay crispy. We recommend picking chiles at all stages of maturity to taste and test! Depending on what the ultimate use will be, the "best" time to pick will vary considerably. Also remember that generally, the more mature the chile, the stronger the flavor and heat level.

To remove the chile pods from the plant, most folks just lift the pod and snap the fruit's stem against the growing angle. While this is a usually a quick way to harvest fruit, be careful that the branch does not snap in the wrong place, and that the whole branch is broken off, not just the fruit. A safer technique is to use garden scissors or clippers to cut the fruit's stem from the branch. Cut the fruit's stem as close to the growing branch as possible.

When Are The Chiles Ready To Be Picked?

Chiles can be picked and eaten at all stages of maturity. Many are usually eaten at the green stage (Serranos for example) while other are usually allowed to ripen before eating (Habaneros for example). While some may have a "green flavor" when eaten at an immature stage, sometimes the flavor is too strong when the fruit is fully mature, and will overpower the other flavors in a recipe. Chiles to be pickled are usually picked before the have reached their mature flavor and color, so that they will stay crispy and crunchy after pickling.

Try eating chiles at all stages of maturity, to see which taste is that you prefer for whatever use you might be wanting. Always taste a small portion at first however, as even though they might be immature, they can still be incredibly hot!

What Do I Do With These Chiles?

There are so many things!
First get a good book or two!
Fried, roasted, pickled, salsas, sauces, chutneys, powdered....and more.
Do some experimenting and have fun!!

Next: Extending Your Season >

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