Post-pick ripening experiment.

DMForcier(8 DFW)October 15, 2012

There has been some discussion here about how (and whether) pepper pods ripen after they are picked or removed from the plant. The scientific community groups Capsicum with other "non-climacteric" fruits like strawberries that don't. Others have shown pictures of pods that change color sitting on the counter.

The subjects of the experiment are a double handful of fatalii pods that became available when the wind blew over the big container and broke a branch. They are in all stages of development, though none are fully ripe.

This experiment is not intended to address the question of whether the color change indicates actual ripening. That question is well worth exploring. Suggestions - other than eating whole pods to compare the taste - are welcome.

So here's the bowl today. They've been off the plant for three days now.

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DMForcier(8 DFW)

The top half of the bowl is pods that show color. In other words, pods whose ripening may have been triggered while on the plant, but have not completed. The bottom half show no color.

The two in the center with the stems pointing downward are full-sized and apparently mature, but show no sign of color change after three days. I believe we can infer that these could ripen, but whose ripening had not been triggered while on the plant.

[I think a grammar check is called for on those two paragraphs.]

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 4:28PM
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tsheets(5)

I'm betting quite a few of them will ripen over the next week. I have no doubt that pods will ripen off the plant. My doubts are that Ethlyene gas has any effect on the ripening (putting them in a bag possibly with Apple or Banana, etc..).

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 7:10PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

[Being careful not to allow bias to bias the experiment...]

I believe the top half of the bowl will color more fully. (Some fatalii don't turn completely yellow no matter how long you give them on the plant.) The bottom half won't.

However, I looked more closely at the big one with the tail pointed at 7 o'clock, and I see some color around the base of the stem.

One other consideration: whether piling them up in a bowl makes a difference.

And if not ethylene then what, phosgene? chlorine? hydrogen sulfide? nitrous oxide? (N2O, yes please. That would be perfect, given my theory of how to eat super-hots.)

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 7:44PM
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nc_crn

We gotta think of ripening as more than a color change.

Peppers do respond to ethylene exposure in the fact that color change may hasten (though not much faster), but sugars, nutrients, and other things associated with ripening remain unchanged by the ethylene exposure.

That said...the genes responsible for pepper ripening on the plant remain undiscovered and not fully understood.

Once/if discovered there may be future treatments of these ethylene un-receptive fruits which may be applied post-harvest on peppers/strawberries/etc to make them better shippers and better tasting once treated.

Even ethylene receptive fruits (such as tomatoes) that express sugar/nutrient/etc changes in response to ethylene exposure aren't perfect. Bananas harvested green usually taste just fine once they ripen to yellow, but most all of us here know the advantage of a vine-rippened tomato compared to your average supermarket green-to-ethylene tomato.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 7:46PM
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nc_crn

Also, my own personal harvests of peppers...I pick at 1/2 - 3/4 "color break" and let the peppers finish up indoors. Mostly because around here they tend to attract birds once they go fully ripe-on-plant.

The sugar/flavor components seem to be "mostly done" by that point...or at least the trade-off of the early picking before fully ripe-on-plant seems minimal to my informal taste bud testing.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 7:50PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

> "your average supermarket green-to-styrofoam tomato"

FIFY

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 7:51PM
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nc_crn

Pretty much...bleh.

I also feel sorry for those that have never had a tree-ripened Papaya. It's amazing.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 8:33PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Good job, DM!

Yes, those pods that had begun the color-change process - even if visually green -
will continue to change. Some will partially change before shriveling.

I have always spread my pods out so that they aren't stacked or touching eachother.

Air-circulation is important if you want to prevent spoiling. I also turn my pods
so that they aren't resting on the same side every day.

Josh

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 1:23PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Some changes.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 3:21PM
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SgtPepper

Looks like color change can occur off the tree. Success.

I know that since the daylight hours have diminished, my peppers in the conservatory are not changing color as rapidly as they were before the equinox. This is despite keeping the conservatory above 60 F. Light seems to be the main key with peppers. I believe if I want them to survive the winter, I am guessing I'll have to keep them above 45 throughout the winter in there.

Although it has heating, the heat loss in the conservatory is rapid during very cold days. It hardly makes economic sense to keep the heat on for long periods during the day.

There is far less watering required now and the plants are almost in dormancy. But they are growing, but very slowly now.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 3:59PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

I don't have anything exotic, but I've allowed temps below 40� with no ill effect to mine. I suspect they'd be okay right down to freezing.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:34PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Below 50ðF and the growth slows, until they're semi-dormant in the 30ðF's....
as long as the roots don't freeze and die, the plants will usually re-sprout.

Josh

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 5:22PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

This thread is worthless without pics !

Note the one at 11 o'clock developing a soft spot. I'll have to chuck him in the fridge. Normally, I don't leave anyone out on the counter for more than a couple days.

Also note about half of them *not* turning color. (yet?)

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 6:13PM
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don555(3a)

I'm very surprised the color change hasn't been greater. When I did that with Charleston Hot in a paper bag with an apple, any peppers that started off with the slightest bit of orange in them had turned completely red (some with a hint of orange still) after 5 days. You had some there that had a fair bit of yellow to start but still aren't fully yellow. Before you took your first pic on day 3, were they completely green? Too bad you didn't throw half of them into a bag with an apple to see if the etylene has any effect, as I'm now thinking that maybe it does.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 10:49PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Most were green, but a few had some yellow. My impression was that there was not much change in the first couple days, but I really wasn't looking closely.

Yes, as the Planck Inst. paper said, ethylene has some accelerating effect on some peppers, but the core question remains: if the color changes, are they actually riper? or just prettier?

I'm amazed at how quickly the one just above center changed. Like, from nothing to all yellow in two days. Especially compared to others that aren't changing at all.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 11:09PM
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woohooman

Give them more time. I've had many that took weeks to finally turn, but like Josh said, watch out for rot. Spread them out a bit.

Kevin

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 3:34PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

I removed the one at 11 o'clock (soft spot) and the two big ones in the center that were fully yellow. Added a partially ripe just off the plant at 11 o'clock, and a partially ripe mammoth jalapeno, also just off the plant.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 7:07PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

The paper bag method wouldn't be useful in this experiment, considering that
you don't know which pods have begun the ripening stage and which haven't when they
are still green. Randomly putting pods on a plate or in a bag, you could very well end
up with all the pods on the plate being those that were going to ripen, or vice versa.

Josh

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 8:41PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

In this case I disagree. This is all the pods on a single branch, in all stages of development. Some may have been triggered; others have not. We don't know the ratio, but assuming a similar ratio between a group in the bag and one on the plate, a significant difference in the rate of coloration should indicate some effect of increased ethylene level. (Again, assuming that is the only difference.)

All of which is kinda irrelevant since we're not doing the experiment.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 1:43PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

The new fatalii pod and the one I took at the same time are both significantly redder than other pods so far this year - it is not a trick of the light.

Note the inclusion of a cubanelle that is already redder than any I've seen this year, and seems to be turning even redder. Anyone know if cubanelles do turn red? I thought they stayed a pale green and developed a blush at ripening.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 7:27PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I think that would be a big assumption.
Pod to pod, branch to branch, I think there'd be very little control in the experiment.

Regardless, Dennis, that ripe yellow at the top is lookin' good!

Josh

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 11:42AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

The jalapeno had colored a little more but was starting to develop a spot, so into the fridge along with a couple fully-colored pods. I'm going to have to start pulling more pods as they develop spots.

Note that the big one with the 5 o'clock stem is just starting to turn.

BTW, the numbering in my title has been wrong. Corrected today.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 6:24PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

The little cubanelle isn't as red as pictured. It is a delicious peachy pink.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 6:37PM
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t-bob(west wa)

yes, that cubanelle will turn solid red

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 11:14AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Things seem to be proceeding more slowly now. I may end this.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 6:18PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Tossed in a couple of fresh ones to see how they progress and pulled some spots. I'll think I'll do this one or two more days, at which point the pods will have been off the plant for two weeks - quite long enough to determine that some of them just aren't going to change.

One thing we haven't mentioned is the effect of refrigeration. Seems to stop this color changing, or at least slow it way down.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 7:21PM
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tsheets(5)

I would agree, refrigeration will slow down the ripening / rotting process. just have to keep them in the crisper drawer to keep them from drying out.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 7:31PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

What humidity level do you use? I'm think I'm on Medium and it seems to be okay.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 11:15PM
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tsheets(5)

I don't even know...I just know if I put them on a shelf they get shriveled up. If I put them in the drawer, it happens much more slowly.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 11:29PM
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don555(3a)

By Day 11 off the plant there seems to be a fair bit of rot setting in, and many pods just aren't turning. I'm impressed that they lasted that long off the plant just sitting out, but it seems those that were going to ripen (or at least turn color) have already ripened, while many others will just end up rotting before ripening.

Have you tried a taste test on the ones that turned yellow? Do they match outdoor-ripened or are they lacking? The peppers I ripened in a paper bag with an apple after picking were disappointing in taste compared to their outdoor-ripened counterparts.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 2:47AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Let me correct that, Mark. The drawer they're in has the Humidity set on Low. When there is little fruit in the drawer they seem to dry out in a few weeks. But with mounds they last much longer. I suspect that the pods themselves are keeping the humidity up somewhat.

Don, these thing are awfully hot to taste test. I'm still thinking about how to do it without a cow standing by. One issue is what to do with the opened pods, as I don't use them that quickly. When I decide what to do with them - probably freeze some, mash others - I can open them up without waste.

The spots that show up so well on day 8 you can see are already present on day 4, and probably came off the plant already there. So yes, it is somewhat remarkable that they last so well, at least until ripe.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 11:58AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Another day, another pic.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 6:15PM
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gardendrivenlife(6)

I've been following this thread and like many others are waiting for ripening before bad weather. Just about gave up on my orange habaneros,and picked some green for the paper bag. Nothing to this day. Now, after not looking at them for about 5 days, I'm starting to see some color on those in the garden. Seems like when you give up on them, then they'll do something. "A watched pod never ripens"

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 7:21PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Last one. You can just see a little color at the base of the stems of the immature pods. Maybe they'll eventually color more completely, but at the rate they're going they'll be rotten first. The red ones colored up nicely, though. But they were clearly triggered on the plant.

Thanks to all who have followed this and commented.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 6:38PM
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another_buffalo(6)

I pruned back one of my golden marconi pepper plants and got this basket of peppers. The plant, with about a third of the peppers still on it, was brought into the greenhosue.

The peppers in the basket are turning pale yellow and wrinkled up, with many starting to rot. Very unappetizing. The ones in the GH are BEAUTIFUL golden color. There is NO comparison.

I left three other plants in the garden and covered them at night until the weather was just unco-operative. The peppers continued to grow huge, but none got any color. I brought in a five gallon bucket - and froze them as they were. The ones in the basket have been discarded.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2012 at 11:01PM
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smokemaster_2007

From my experience,the closer a green pod is to changing color the faster it will ripen BUT if a pod is too green it will only dry out and possibly rot or...
I guess you can only go by what group of pods were formed first,not by the total of pods the plant put out.
All are set at different times depending on growing conditions.
I've also found that unripe pods,even if they turn color don't produce ripe seeds if picked too early.
If a pod was just turning color the seeds might be OK but greener pods might never have viable seeds.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2012 at 11:47PM
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