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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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2 Answers 2

up vote 14 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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