Many types of peppers, such as Anaheim peppers, poblano peppers, serrano peppers, and jalapeño peppers - are red when fully ripe and green while immature. However, most of the time I've seen these peppers for sale, they're sold when they're green (unripened).

Is there a particular reason why these peppers are sold before they're fully ripened?


  • Capsaicinoids begin to accumulate gradually in the peppers from the beginning of its development up to a maximum concentration. From this time there is initially a sharp decrease in the total capsaicinoid content (32%), followed by a gradual decrease until day 80 of ripening. --From sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814613019365 Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 19:57

3 Answers 3


You can get red jalapeños at some markets, but you're right, most places sell them when they're still green.

They sell them for the same reasons they sell green bell peppers, which includes:

  • some people prefer the milder, grassier notes (or just don't know better)
  • they're cheaper to produce (don't have to wait for them to ripen, reducing water use)
  • they store and ship better (as they're not ripe yet).
  • it lowers the risk of losing the harvest (due to weather, blight, etc. from waiting 'til they're fully ripe)
  • it reduces the number of field hands needed (as they're not trying to pick all peppers at the peak of ripeness)
  • if frees up the field for another planting.

In the case of hot peppers, it's more complex than the simple colored bell peppers -- the ripe peppers are often further processed (smoked or dried) and then sold under a different name:

  • chipotle == smoked & dried jalapeño
  • ancho == dried poblano
  • colorado == ripe anaheim
  • 4
    I would argue that "store and ship better" is the overwhemling reason.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 17:16
  • 2
    @FuzzyChef : yet, you can still get 'em at farmer's markets, too ... so it's not the only reason. In some cases, I've been told by one of the farm stands I hit that they'll intentionally pick early if they're expecting rain the next day, both so the rain doesn't knock things off, and they don't have to do as much work out in the rain ... but that would only explain the 'not fully changed color' peppers, not the 'still completely green' ones.
    – Joe
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 18:23
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    It's true, peppers take a looong tie to turn red. All of Joe's points are good, but the one about ripening time I think is especially true. I am a gardener, and sell produce, I can attest to the fact that green peppers are by far cheaper and easier to raise. Also because the longer they sit on the plant, the more likely something will happen to them. The plants also produce considerably more, when the fruits are picked green.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 22:12
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    Joe: well, folks have been eating underripe peppers for so long (like 100 years) that we're used to them. And there are a few peppers which actually taste better green, since they've been bred for that.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Sep 20, 2014 at 19:25
  • @J.Musser : that's a good point -- squash, beans and peppers will produce lots more per plant if you pick them early. (I've heard it's because the plant spends more energy on seed development; when the fruit are removed, the plant insteads starts making more).
    – Joe
    Commented Sep 21, 2014 at 13:46

Whatever the historic reason was: Nowadays it is probably "because customers expect them to be green and taste like a green jalapeno".

Possible reason why jalapenos are among those preferred green: They have a very saturated green color (unlike the pale green of some other annuum varieties), smooth skin and regular shape, so they look good as rings for garnish and give a pleasant texture, while having the right amount of heat for such use.

Color and size of an ingredient are very relevant to some cooks when it comes to choosing ... it is a part of the "presentation" aspect of cooking... "this dish is missing a green, round and delicate element, and could use some heat and fresh-herbal notes... ahh, jalapeno rings..."


Old question, but attempt to an answer by a new member. I can't comment on the varieties mentioned specifically, but have seen similar things happening.

Apart from all the answers provided, I believe it has to do with the taste too. For many (Indian) recipes there is a distinct ask or demand because of taste variation. A green pepper tastes different than red pepper than dried red pepper than crushed pepper.

I have heard about few recipes where it asks for green and (wet/not dried) red peppers because of taste variations.

From personal observations, green pepper taste and texture is definitely different than red, not yet dried, pepper. To me red, not dried pepper tastes somewhat sweeter even though I would find the green one of same verity somewhat hotter.

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