What kind of peppers are these, and when will they be ripe?
August 2, 2012 7:06 PM   Subscribe

What kind of peppers are these, and when will they be ripe? I got a pepper plant from the farmer's market on a whim, and it's started making a bunch of tiny little peppers. Except! I lost the little tag that says what kind of peppers they are and I have no idea when they'll be ripe. I do know the guy said they're edible, they are not just ornamental, but I can't tell, and there are all sorts of colors going on with these cute little guys.

Pictures included, including one with my hand so you can compare sizes.


These are all from the same plant, and there's a variety of colors. I tried to include most of the range - there's only one of the Bright Orange, most of them are the purple-yellow kind, with one or two solid yellow or solid purple.
posted by FritoKAL to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
Birds eye chili ?
posted by iamabot at 7:09 PM on August 2, 2012

Weird. They all start green? The green ones, they aren't ripe. The colored ones, they are.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 7:10 PM on August 2, 2012

iamabot, not birds eye. At least, not the traditional cultivar, which is exclusively red.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 7:10 PM on August 2, 2012

Yes, they all start green, or green-purple.
posted by FritoKAL at 7:11 PM on August 2, 2012

This page may help.
There's a couple they could be it, I'd suggest Aurora since your leaves are green.

Then they're coloured, they're probably ripe. I've not had much luck growing them, but I'd say once they're not green you are good to go.
posted by Mezentian at 7:18 PM on August 2, 2012

They are ornamental peppers.
posted by GilvearSt at 7:21 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Google ornamental chilli, and you'll find a heap of info. (My net connection is horribly slow and nothing - except Mefi - will load so I can't direct you to a specific page.)
posted by malibustacey9999 at 7:50 PM on August 2, 2012

Christmas tree peppers is another possible search term.
posted by Bruce H. at 7:52 PM on August 2, 2012

Yup, I've got some pepper plants that look pretty darn similar to what your pictures show (though it's hard to say exactly without a better sense of scale) and they're ornamental. I mean, they're edible (I had to try one!) but they don't really have a lot of flavor and they have no heat. They look really neat though, and I like 'em.

By the way if you want to grow hot ones, habaneros are super easy to grow and mine have been putting out just boatloads of bright orange beauties. I planted three of 'em and I now have far more habaneros than I know what to do with.
posted by Scientist at 7:52 PM on August 2, 2012

Maybe Chinese 5-Color Pepper?
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:59 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's an ornamental pepper. Technically edible, but not worth it. Bred for looks, not flavor.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:09 PM on August 2, 2012

Nthing ornamental peppers. Saw a plant just like this the other day at a local nursery / greenhouse.
posted by aught at 6:36 AM on August 3, 2012

Chinese 5-color is definitely a possibility.

The question of "edible" isn't as critical with peppers as it is with, say, mushrooms. A mushroom not classified as "edible" may in fact kill you, but a pepper is just not bred to be tasty. I've used ornamental peppers in soups plenty of times. You know how jalapenos taste different from habaneros and cayennes and it's not just the level of spiciness, it's actually a flavor difference? Ornamental peppers tend not to have any of that subtlety; it's all just straight-up heat. A lot of times, though, I just need a bit of heat, and I'm not planning to use enough pepper that the flavor subtleties would really have a chance to come through anyway; the flavor of the dish is in the other ingredients. So an "ornamental" pepper is perfectly fine.

There'll be some flavor differences as the colors change; whatever the last one is (orange? red?) is the ripest, probably the fullest flavor. Basically, they're definitely not bad, so you should try cooking with them and see if you think they're good, see what color stage you like best.
posted by aimedwander at 7:19 AM on August 3, 2012

They look very much like a variety called 'Twilight' to me. When I grew that variety (couple of years ago, so memory is a little hazy) the peppers start off kind of lime green, then go purplish, and finally ripen up to red.

There's a good pic at the bottom of this page.

They're certainly edible (pretty hot, too!) and as aimedwander says you can use them at any stage, depending on your taste. Personally I found them too mild when green/purple, but my growing conditions weren't ideal that year so that probably had an effect. Best to wait until they redden up if you lke them hot (although unless you live in a hot area or have a heated greenhouse they probably won't all ripen - I had lots of unripe ones which I used to bulk out my chilli sauce).

If you catch the bug and plan to grow from seed next year I'd recommend a variety which is simply called 'Super Chili' - compact, reliable and tons of nice-sized fruit.
posted by boosh at 11:08 AM on August 3, 2012

Green peppers are just underripe peppers - so it doesn't really matter when you pick them. Personally, I prefer the sweeter taste of ripe peppers, so I'd wait until they're red.
posted by O9scar at 11:12 AM on August 3, 2012

I wouldn't dismiss it's tastiness out of hand, there are many ornamental/edible peppers these days that are not simply little firebombs. I think it looks like a Numex (scroll down to the Ns), though you may see other peppers on that page that are closer to yours. Probably edible when they are yellow-red.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:48 PM on August 3, 2012

It's a Twilight Numex, for sure - the picture comparison is a 100% match.

Also nothing but hot. a 1mm by 1mm piece (Yes, one millimeter) was enough to cause my lips and tongue to tingle. Thankfully the significant other loves hot and declared them "tasty" (in a similar amount!) while my reaction was somewhat more profane and involved frantically trying to find something to get the ow out of my mouth!
posted by FritoKAL at 6:51 PM on August 11, 2012

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