When To Pick Cayenne Peppers: Prime Harvesting Time

If you’ve put the effort in to grow your own Cayenne Peppers, then you will certainly want to ensure that you pick the peppers at the most appropriate time!

Choosing the best time to pick these peppers will give them the best flavor and heat possible, so we’re here to help you ensure that you harvest the perfect Cayenne pepper! 

The Best Time For Harvesting Cayenne Peppers: Prime Harvesting Time

These peppers are usually harvested somewhere between 70 and 100 days after they have been planted. At this stage, the chilies should be between 4 and 5 inches long and a vibrant red color.

You want to ensure that you pick these peppers before they wrinkle and dry out! 

We’re here to give you some guidance on the best time to harvest Cayenne peppers, including some guidance on why your Cayenne peppers may not be turning red.

Read on for everything you need to know about cayenne peppers!

What Is A Cayenne Pepper?

The cayenne pepper shares its name with a city in French Guiana. This is where the pepper is thought to originate from.

These red peppers are in the Capsicum annuum species which is the same species as Jalapenos and Bell peppers.

Cayenne chile plants typically grow to a couple of feet in height. If you have grown a successful and healthy plant, this will produce between 10 and 30 ripe pods at a time.

When Should You Pick Cayenne Peppers Off The Plant?

If you have some ripe peppers on your plant, they will be packed with delicious flavors. If you pick these fruits at the right time they will have a great level of heat!

The harvest time for cayenne peppers is usually between 70-100 days after planting. The appearance of these peppers should be vibrant red and they are usually between 4 and 5 inches long.

They have a firm, long and waxy appearance when they are ready to be picked.

For the best flavor of your Cayenne peppers, you will need to pick them when they are ripe. If you don’t pick them for too long, the peppers may start to wrinkle which marks the start of the peppers drying out.

As soon as this starts to happen, you will need to harvest them immediately. 

It is important to be aware that there are some different varieties of cayenne pepper. These peppers vary in color. For instance, a golden cayenne pepper will turn golden yellow when it is ripe and ready to be picked.

What Time Of Year Should You Pick Your Cayenne Peppers?

Your cayenne peppers will be ready to harvest at different times depending on the variety that you have planted, and when you planted the peppers.

The peppers are most commonly ready in mid-summer, but it is a good idea to check your seed packet for the best guidance. 

What Happens If You Don’t Harvest Your Chilies?

If you don’t harvest the chilies on your plant, then the plant will stop producing new flowers. This means that the flowers and peppers that are currently on your plant will be the last of the crop. 

If you don’t harvest your peppers, they will get stress cracks on them which look like tiny brown lines on the fruit. Eventually, they will dry out, shrivel up and rot.

Why Are My Cayenne Peppers Not Turning Red?

Cayenne peppers are supposed to turn red. This should happen around a month after growing to full size. If the peppers do not turn red, there could be lots of reasons for this.

These include: 


If your cayenne pepper is fairly big, it will take a lot longer to ripen. If some of the smaller peppers on your plant have turned red, but some of the bigger ones are still green, this could be why it hasn’t ripened.

If this is the case, wait another week or so to see if they eventually ripen.


The weather can also affect whether or not your peppers will turn red. For instance, if you’ve had unseasonable weather, your peppers may have been damaged.

This can happen if there is a heatwave or some frost. 

Cayenne peppers grow best with a daytime temperature of between 21 to 26 degrees Celsius or 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.


Another reason that your cayenne peppers may not ripen could be due to a pest problem. When cayenne peppers start to ripen, the leaves attract bugs because the fluids that the leaves produce are a source of food for aphids. 

These bugs can damage the peppers, and this can stop them from fully ripening. You should keep an eye on your plant to make sure that it is pest-free!

Can You Eat Green Cayenne Peppers?

It is possible to eat cayenne peppers before they turn red. Some people even prefer them because of the milder flavor! 

If you have lots of green peppers that may not ripen before the end of the season, you might want to use them up rather than waste them. 

Green peppers taste very different from ripened red peppers. They are milder in flavor, and have a more vegetal taste. For this reason, these peppers work very well in salsas, salads, and dips! 

Sometimes, if you pick green cayenne peppers (see also: Learn When To Pick Serrano Peppers – The Ultimate Guide)they may ripen after a few days. If you are hoping for this to happen, it’s best to keep them in a warm location for them to ripen.

How Do You Harvest Cayenne Peppers?

If your cayenne peppers are ready to harvest, it’s time to pick the peppers from your plant! It is super easy to harvest your peppers as they are very small and can be picked off by hand. 

When harvesting your peppers, you will want to gently grip the branch of the plant with one hand. With the other hand, carefully pull the pepper off the stem. You want to make sure not to pull the branch off with the pepper. 

If you’re worried about pulling the pepper off the stem and damaging the plant, you can always opt to cut off the peppers with clean shears instead.

If you choose this method, you can cut anywhere along the stem.

How To Get The Most Chilies From Your Plant

If you want to get as many chilies from your plant as possible, it is a good idea to start harvesting the cayenne peppers regularly. If you do this, it will encourage lots of growth in your plant.

How To Grow Cayenne Peppers

After you have finished growing your peppers for the year, it is a good idea to hold onto the seeds.

If you have done this, and you have your seeds from your last batch, we will provide you with an overview of how you can start the Cayenne plants from seed!

1. Plant The Seed 

The first step to growing cayenne peppers from seed is to plant the seeds indoors. This should be done around 8 weeks before your last expected frost.

To do this, you will need to get some seed-starting mix. You will then need to push the cayenne pepper seeds into the soil.

It is very important to keep the soil moist and warm during this part of the process.

2. Germination

Most cayenne pepper seeds will germinate about a week after the seeds have been planted. This might take a little bit longer if the temperature is not quite right.

The ideal temperature for germination is 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 27 to 32 degrees Celsius. 

After a while, you will begin to see stems emerging from the soil. This is the seed sprouting. Soon after this, the sprouts will begin to develop leaves. This is known as seedling.

3. Transfer The Plants Outside 

Once the seedlings have grown in size, they will begin to need more space in their pots. This is because they will develop a big root system that will need space to spread out. 

If the weather is warm enough, these seedlings can now be transferred outside! To do this, the temperature must be consistently above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, or 13 degrees Celsius.

If you transfer the seedlings too early, they may not be robust enough to survive outside. 

They need to have a substantial root system to thrive in the outdoors.

After a while, the cayenne pepper plant will begin to produce flowers. These flowers are usually yellow and white, and they will need to be pollinated before you will get any fruit on your plant.

Some plants rely on insects to pollinate their plant, but in this case, the cayenne pepper plant can self-pollinate.

4. Plant Will Fruit 

After the flowers have been pollinated, you will begin to see your green cayenne peppers sprouting from the plant! All you need to do after this stage is wait for them to ripen and be pollinated.

The Best Time For Harvesting Cayenne Peppers: Prime Harvesting Time (1)

Are Cayenne Peppers Hot?

Cayenne peppers are quite hot. While they are not blow-your-head-off levels of spice, you likely wouldn’t want to snack on one raw. 

They usually have between 30,000 and 50,000 units of heat on the Scoville scale. This makes these peppers 6-10 times hotter than Jalapenos. They are also up to 100 times hotter than a Banana pepper(see also: Best Time To Pick Banana Peppers From The Garden). 

These peppers are very hot, and you probably wouldn’t want to eat one raw. However, they are very tasty in dishes.

You can get some Cayenne peppers that are hotter than others. For example, the Carolina Cayenne pepper is twice as spicy as the standard pepper.

What Can You Do With Cayenne Peppers?

Once you have grown and harvested your cayenne peppers, you might be wondering what you can do with them now! There are plenty of great uses for these peppers.

These include: 

Use Them In Your Cooking

Cayenne peppers are delicious when they are used in your meals. They work very well to flavor dishes like chilies and curries.

You can also use these peppers in salads or cut them up to be used in salsas and relishes.

You should keep the seeds to the side when you are using the peppers so that you can use them to grow new plants in the next season! 

Dry Them Out 

If you have some leftover cayenne peppers that you don’t want to use in fresh foods, you can always dry out the peppers. When you do this, you can use the dried pepper to make homemade chili powder. 

After you have your chili powder, you can use it to season lots of different foods! 

There are a few ways to dry out your chili:


You can dry out your chilies in the oven. You will need to place the peppers on a sheet of baking paper for around 6 hours. Set the oven to around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. 

You should check on these chilies every half an hour, turning them over when necessary.

Food Dehydrator 

You can use a dehydrator to dry out your cayenne peppers. To do this, you will need to wash and dry your cayenne peppers and cut off the stems.

After you have done this, slice them lengthwise and remove the seeds! 

Next, you will want to spread them out evenly across the trays with the side of the chili that holds the seeds pointing upwards. 

You will need to dehydrate these peppers at 120 degrees Fahrenheit, or 50 degrees Celsius, for around 6 to 12 hours.

Should You Wash Cayenne Peppers Before Cooking?

You must wash cayenne peppers after you have picked them. This is if you are going to eat them or cook with them.

You can store these peppers without washing them first, or you can wash them before you store them. 

These peppers store very well in plastic containers or sealed glass. If you are storing them in the refrigerator, you should check them regularly for mold. 

How Should I Store Cayenne Peppers?

It is important to ensure that you store cayenne peppers correctly. You should make sure that you place them in the refrigerator if you want them to last as long as possible.

Make sure that you check the peppers for any mold before you eat them in case they have gone off.

Final Thoughts 

There you have it! This article has given you all of the information you need when it comes to harvesting your cayenne peppers.

After reading this, you will know exactly what to do with your cayenne peppers, including how to grow them from seed. 

Amelia Haslehurt
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