The fruits of pepper plants come in many shapes (elongated to round), sizes (petite to large), colors (yellow, green, red to almost black), and flavors (sweet and mild to fiery hot).

The bell types are usually picked when they reach full size—3 to 4 inches long—and are glossy, firm, and green. At this stage, they will break easily from the plant. Some gardeners prefer to cut off the fruits to keep from damaging the plant. Peppers may be left on the plant to ripen to their mature color, usually red, orange, or yellow. At that stage, flavors are more developed.

Hot peppers (chilies or chili peppers) are harvested and dried after they turn red. Jalapeno peppers, however, traditionally are used green.

Harvest peppers or whole plants in the fall before frost. Peppers will continue to color in storage as long as they are full sized at harvest.

Use Storage Method 2 for fresh peppers. Fresh peppers will store 8 to 10 days.

Use Storage Method 3 for dried peppers. Dried peppers will store for 6 months to a year.

Nutrition note: One large uncooked green pepper contains 20 calories and 0 grams of fiber. It is an excellent source of vitamins C (170% DV) and A (80% DV). Hot peppers are usually not eaten in great enough quantities to contribute to nutrition, but they are high in vitamins C and A. Colors depend on the type of pepper: green, yellow/orange, red, purple.

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