Ornamental and easy to grow in warm, sunny, indoor sites, chilli peppers fruit over a long season, usually beginning around July in the UK. Chillies grow on plant species Capsicum annuum and Capsicum frutescens, and most varieties ripen from green to red, though black, purple and other colours are also available. Fruit ripens in warm, bright conditions, so chillies that form when temperatures start to fall and daylight length shortens in late summer, may need extra help to turn red. Moving whole plants or removing chillies to ripen separately are two possible solutions.
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Things you need
- Needle and thread (optional)
- Cake rack (optional)
Move chilli plants into a warm, bright environment, such as a sunny windowsill, conservatory, greenhouse or polytunnel. South-facing areas receive the maximum levels of sunlight.
Remove chillies from the plant and put them in a warm, dry spot in the kitchen. Chillies continue to ripen after harvesting. Space each fruit to allow air to circulate and reduce the risk of rotting.
Remove chillies from the plant with their stalks intact. Tie a knot in one end of a thread and thread a needle with the other end. Push the needle through the stalk of one chilli pepper and slide the pepper down to the knot. Pierce the stalk of another chilli and move it down to the first, so that the two peppers are close but not touching. Repeat until you've threaded all the chillies. Remove the needle and tie a knot in the thread. Hang the chillies up somewhere warm and airy, such as across a kitchen window. Check for and remove mouldy chillies regularly.
Place chillies on a cake rack, spread them out, and leave them to ripen. Put the cake rack in the sun if you want to dry the chillies, bringing them indoors overnight.
Tips and warnings
- You can save the seed from fully ripe, soft chillies to grow more plants. After ripening, chillies removed from plants dry out if they remain in warm, dry, airy conditions. Once completely dry, you can store them in sealed glass jars or add them to oil for flavouring.
- Don't put chillies in the fridge as this slows down their ripening and may spoil their flavour.
- Wear rubber gloves or wash your hands carefully after cutting chillies -- their flesh, juice and seeds are very irritating.
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