Are chillies hotter when they're ripe?

Gerald Kaszuba
  • Are chillies hotter when they're ripe? Gerald Kaszuba

    This answer might vary between types of chillies, but I'm curious to know when they're hottest.

  • Not really. The chemical that gives chillies their heat is called capsaicin. It is an extremely stable alkaloid, and so remains potent even after a long period of time: note, for example that dried chillies and even chilli flakes are still hot.

  • McGee writes: "Capsaicin appears to accumulate in the fruit concurrently with the pigment during ripening". (On Food and Cooking, p.212)

    So yes, chilis get hotter as they ripen (that is, as they turn from green to red). Many chili varieties are picked and sold in stores while still unripe and green (e.g. jalapeño, serrano, poblano), but you will occasionally see ripe, red ones in stores.

    All of the dried chilis I've seen in stores have been completely ripened before drying (e.g. chipotles, which are smoked, dried red jalapeños and anchos, which are dried, red poblano peppers).

    I've personally observed this effect with padron peppers, which are usually picked green and mild, but can ripen to red, hot peppers if left on the plant.

  • Most chiles become more picante as they ripen. But they also become much sweeter. Jalapenos are a good example. Red jalapenos are much more delicious than green ones. Most of the 'heat' is in the seeds and the tissue connecting the seeds to the capsule. You can pare those parts out with a small knife. I eat most of my ripe jalapenos right in the garden, pocket knife in hand!

Related questions and answers
  • In light of the question Are chillies hotter when they're ripe?, in particular – @ElendilTheTall's answer. I am wondering if chilies continue to ripen after picking? If so, does capsaician continue to build up. What is the 'peek of freshness/ripeness' for chilies? (assuming it is different for each type of pepper, but are there 'commonalities' to look for?)

  • I face a problem here, cooking thai quite often and using the same sort of chillies every time, bird's eye chillies. The problem is that some of them are hotter than other and sometimes the meal is not hot enough even when adding more chillies than the recipe says. I want to try capsaicin extracts but before I go and get any (not shops with this sort of stuff in the area) I would like to know 2 things: how is this sort of extract made, how is the capsaicin sourced from the chillies what's in the bottle, any additives, unhealthy things? Thanks you in advance.

  • What's the difference in taste between green and red Bird's Eye Chillies?

  • I have found out quite a lot on fruit leathers. I have researched on Google about them but from my research it appears everyone loves the fact they're nice and chewy and I can't find any website which explains why they're chewy. My issue is, when I do them with passion fruit, they are far too chewy (as in they get stuck in your teeth). The only other ingredient I use is the fruit and sugar, but I do let it reduce in a pan first. How can I make the fruit leather less chewy?

  • I just roasted a bunch of butternut squash for dinner and am getting to puree, but am noticing that some of the pieces have weird glue-looking spots. It sort of looks like when water weeps out of the pores on the squash, only it's white and the consistency of silly putty. They're very small spots (like the size of a straight pin head), and close to the skin on the flesh, on the cross-section. I feel like I'm describing this poorly. Here's a picture: My question: Is this stuff safe to eat, or do I need to compost it and find something else for dinner? I'd rather not give my whole family

  • I've been making freezer burritos and eating them for lunches this week. The first batch I made microwave beautifully: just 45 seconds and they're hot all the way through. They were layered with rice, beans, and corn, nothing else (I don't eat cheese and I wanted them to be non-spicy so I can eat them when I'm feeling unwell). The second batch replace the corn with ground beef, cooked and seasoned. The exact same beans, the same rice made the same way. They're smaller, due to using a different package of tortillas; after almost 2 minutes of heating in the same microwave, the meat burrito I

  • I've got a couple of chayotes that I'd like to try raw. I've never had chayote before, but from what I've read, they're pretty bland when raw and require significant seasoning to be tasty. How do you prepare raw chayotes minimally to make them tasty as a dish?

  • In Portugal, chilies in olive oil are a very typical form of spicy sauce, in both commercial and artisan forms. Different types, amounts, and mixes of chillies result in different flavours and it can be very nice. However, I worry about botulism. I have googled for this and find many warnings against preserving garlic or other spices in oil, but nothing related to chilies in particular. Are chilies different? Or are the commercial chili olive oils prepared in a way that makes them safe? Any way to achieve the same at home or should I just stick to the industrially prepared products?

  • When I make chilli, I use dried ancho and chipotle chillies which I rehydrate in beef stock. However, as they are light, they just float on top of the liquid and so they don't rehydrate very efficiently - one side can still be a little dry. Is there some way I can ensure even, efficient rehydration?

Data information