Too cold to ripen, calling it quits

don555(3a)October 9, 2012

I picked the garden peppers a week ago just before the first killing frost, but I saved two potted peppers and put them on a dolly that I would wheel into the garage at night, then back out into the sun during the day. But I've been doing that for 6 days now and there's been very little ripening. It's been cool, around 10C/50F by day, and near freezing at night. If there was a prolonged warm spell in sight I might continue, but Wednesday is supposed to be snow or rain and a high of 2C/36F, so that's it.

I took pics on Oct. 2 when I started moving the pots into the garage, and again 6 days later to see if anything was ripening. You can see a bit of change in these photos, but not much. I was hoping that the cold temps and shorter days would trigger rapid ripening, but it seems warmth is a key factor for ripening. Not going to bring them inside, as that quickly caused aphid problems last year.

I haven't yet decided if I'll grow either of these varieties next year. If I do, I'll start them earlier as they were pretty small when I moved them outside in May.

Charleston Oct. 2: (I had two pickings off this plant by then).

Charleston Oct. 8:

Firecracker Oct. 2: (I'd been picking on an "as needed" basis prior to this.

Firecracker Oct. 8:

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Nice looking peppers. I had a bunch of green ones in various stages that had to be picked or lost. Most of them are chopped and in the drier now. Still good to cook with.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 5:14AM
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Agreed - getting to cold at night and I've called it quits too. Too much work moving and covering 30 plus plants. Spent weekend harvesting all peppers at the lake and home. Can't complain, it was an excellent pepper year, this year.

Great Charleston plant!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 7:13AM
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Try throwing them in a paper bag with an apple, you'll be amazed how quickly they start to ripen.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 8:18AM
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I like the apple-ripening idea, thanks. I threw all the ones with a bit of orange or red color in them, along with an apple, into a closed paper bag, and set up a second bag with another apple and all of the peppers that were fully yellow and had no green in them. Now I wait.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 1:45AM
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I should add, that was for the Charleston Hot. For the Firecracker pepper I am just picking all of the peppers that are likely to have heat in them, then freezing them for future use.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 1:47AM
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It's working great for me on most of my peppers. There is one kind that is slower then the others but it is still working. I've got 7 potted palnts in my living room because od the recent nights in the 30s but next week looks like all 60s and mid 40s at night so I can take them back out for maybe a week or two.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 8:57AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Peppers don't respond to ethylene ripening the way other fruits do,
so there's really no point in putting them in a bag with an apple/banana.
Either the "signal" has gone out to begin ripening, or the peppers won't ripen.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 4:44PM
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I have to disagree, i've been doing it over two weeks now.Ive had compltely green peppers start to change overnight after putting them in a paper bag with an apple. I can't believe they just happened to turn that moment when ones that I have left on the plant did zip the same night.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 4:47PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Believe it.
Even a completely green pepper can have been "signaled" to begin ripening.
I've picked many green pods and had them begin ripening overnight due to
the fact that they had already begun ripening, despite the fact that my eye
couldn't tell it.

For those with minds curious on the subject, here's a link:
Ethylene of No Effect: Why Peppers Do Not Mature After Picking


    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 6:00PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

We had our first frost over the weekend and I picked everything, green or not. They are all in bowls or other open containers, and sitting on the counters, etc. around the house. Lots of them are showing color now, that weren't a week ago.

My experience has been that most of them will eventually turn colors. The ones that weren't mature enough when picked will shrivel up while still green, but there usually isn't very many of those, and they are typically pods that weren't full sized yet.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 6:47PM
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Well I don't know if it's the apple or the paper bag or the warmth of being indoors, or maybe all three, but in just 24 hours since picking there has been a noticeable color change in the Charleston peppers in the paper bag with an apple in it (placed in our kitchen). They've still got a long way to go to become fully red-ripe, but I'm impressed that I can see a definite change in just 24 hours since I picked them.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 1:51AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Don, they would have begun changing without the bag or the apple, I assure you.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 9:42AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Re: Josh's link, here is a definition of "climacteric" which has a good capsule description of the ripening process.

Here is a link that might be useful: Climacteric (botany)

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 12:35PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

"[When exposed to external ethylene] genes lower down the ethylene signal chain showed heightened levels of activity. "The genes for breaking down the plant cell wall or the carotenoid biosynthesis during the plant's normal process of ripening were produced in greater quantities in the tomatoes and peppers alike," explains Fernie." - Science News, "Ethylene of No Effect: Why Peppers Do Not Mature After Picking"

Hmm. In other words, although the color may change (carotenoid biosynthesis), it is not true ripening and in fact might encourage decay.

Conclusion: Ethylene is not useful for our purposes, but might be useful for commercial purposes where colored fruit is more salable.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 1:02PM
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As long as someting is working, we'll just have to agree to disagree

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 1:39PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Or you could simply leave them out of the bag and see that it works just as well.
To each their own. Gardening is full of wive's tales and horticultural myths.
My goal is to help clear up misconceptions that could potentially interfere
with future learning.

As it stands, your disagreement is not with me but with the Max Planck Institute,
a highly reputed establishment.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 8:38PM
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Interesting discussion and I'd test it myself, but it's too late for me to set up a valid test this year. After sitting in a bag with an apple for 2 days, even if I took some out of the bag and they ripened at the same rate as those in the bag, one could reasonably claim that the ethylene in the bag was what started the ripening cascade in the first place.

I'm staying on the fence over this one for now. I did read the Max Planck article listed above, and it says:

"It looks like the ethylene has absolutely no influence on the gene expression or the metabolism of habenero chilli peppers," says group leader Alisdair Fernie

However, the Planck group looked at habanero chiles only, which are C. chinense, whereas Charleston Hot are C. annum. So while their work seems pretty definitive for habaneros, that doesn't necessarily mean it applies to all chiles. Maybe it does, but I think there's still some room for doubt about whether it is valid beyond C. chinense chiles.

Anyway, 2 days since picking and the peppers continue to ripen, though so far none have gone beyond orange or yellow-orange, whereas the ones that ripened on the plant turned deep red. In the second bag of all-yellow peppers (ie none that showed any trace of orange when picked), at least 3 have started to turn orange. The same Planck article states that "Other fruits, like peppers, grapes and strawberries, generally do not mature after picking; they need to be harvested when ripe and consumed as soon as possible." That would suggest that I can't expect much more ripening of my peppers. I can see a color change, but I would certainly not call them ripe yet, so it will be interesting to see how far along they get. If they aren't going to go red-ripe, I'll have to be vigilant to shut it down before they start to go bad.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 11:28PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I've found that those green but starting to turn pods will often half-ripen before they
shrivel or dry out. Some will ripen to red fully, but they'll typically be wrinkled by then...
which makes them fairly unappetizing to consider eating without some additional processing.
So yeah, be vigilant ;-)

As for the chinense testing, I've heard that from others. Guess we could ask the Planck institute
to run a bunch of other varietal tests. I might try to contact someone there and ask the same
question. I'm sure they've heard it already.


    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 12:39AM
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If you hear anything from them, be sure to post it (as I'm sure you will). Definitely interesting!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 11:08AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

I think y'all are missing the point. The test was run because of the observation that Peppers Do Not Mature After Picking. That fact has already been established.

The tests were to find out what happens *when* the standard post-pick process fails, not *whether* it fails.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 2:53PM
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I wish I'd taken pics of my peppers when I picked them, but I didn't. But you can look at the first 2 pics in this thread to get a good idea about the state of ripeness when I picked the Charleston Hot peppers, basically anything with even the slightest trace of color change from yellow to orange made it into my ripening-bag, and not many peppers were riper than barely-turning-color since I had picked all the ones with color a week earlier, just before the weather turned cold and the peppers stopped ripening.

At any rate, here's what those peppers look like now, after 4 days of sitting in a paper bag with a Gala apple:

Even though they aren't yet fully ripe, I would certainly call this "ripening". Which pretty much goes against the Planck observation that peppers do not mature after picking.

I think this topic remains open to further discussion and refinement.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 3:27AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

We use color change to indicate ripeness. But if you look at the link for "climacteric" above you will see that there is much more to the state of ripeness. The main thing for our purposes would be a change in flavor.

Still, those *look* good enough to eat. That by itself might make gassing worthwhile.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 12:38PM
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For the ones that ripened outdoors on the plant I was impressed by the flavor -- kind of like a red bell, but surprisingly much sweeter, and with heat of course. When I shut down the indoor "ripening" I'll have a taste and see how they compare.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 1:30PM
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