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Last year I grew jalapeños. The fruits were tiny, but I was able to harvest a few handfuls. I noticed that many of them started to turn black on the plant. They were still edible, and they weren't rotten. The skin of the fruit developed black patches, shiny like the rest of the skin. It looked as though they were ripening to black (instead of red like other peppers would). The plants looked perfectly healthy otherwise, and continued making fruit.

Is this normal? If not, what causes it / how can I prevent it?

(Sorry, no photos available, I didn't think to take pictures at the time.)

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4 Answers 4

up vote 15 down vote accepted

A lot of peppers naturally turn black as they make the transition from green to orange/red/yellow during the ripening process.

This can be understood by looking at how different coloured pigments mix. Mixing of pigments is subtractive (unlike light, which is additive), and when you mix green pigment with orange (can try with paint at home), you get a shade somewhere between muddy to deep brown (depending on how deep the orange and green are). So when the fruit makes the transition from raw (green) to ripe (orange), there's some sort of mixing of the pigments, which appears as if the fruit is blackening.

I've had this happen to my jalapeños and bell peppers and there is nothing to worry about. On the left is my bell pepper that's starting to ripen and on the right is how a ripened fruit should look like (my previous fruit).

blackened bell pepper enter image description here

On the other hand, if it turns black and remains black (or orange/red with purplish-black patches), it is due to the specific cultivar of pepper, although this is somewhat uncommon.

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I believe the jalapenos start to turn black because of the season changing. My plants have produced beautiful peppers green and red for 6 mths. Every year the new peppers that start to grow in Oct., (on the same plants with exactly the same routine and care ) start to get a black glow to the skin. It does not seem to damage the flavor of the pepper but I do stuff these rather than can just because they are not as attractive.

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You more than likely have a tomato worm or two on them! They are hard to see. If you see little black round droppings on the ground around your plants, you probably have these worms. They attach themselves to the plant itself and they are the same color as the plant, so they're very hard to see because this is their disguise. Hope this helps

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As others have said, it's common for jalapenos and some other peppers to get some black on them. I have bell peppers like this now. I'm not totally convinced that it's just the mixing of the pigments, though, because they can keep those black streaks a long time before they're fully ripe (or before any of the final color shows). It seems when the final color comes on it usually comes pretty fast. I suppose it's possible, though. I don't have an explanation for it, but I've tasted a banana pepper like that and the flavor was better than those without black. I wouldn't worry about them hurting the taste, whatever is the cause, if it's the same result.

Although this probably isn't your variety of jalapeno, it should be noted that there is a variety called Black Jalapeno that is supposed to turn almost completely black. A lot of peppers will get black streaks or such on them, though.

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