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With the frost approaching rapidly in my area, I brought inside a few potted chili pepper plants for overwintering. Some of the plants, however, still have lots of unripe peppers on them (hundreds in some cases), so before chopping up my plants for overwinter preparation, I would like to wait a bit for the peppers to ripen. I however do NOT have great conditions for them (no sunny window), so they basically transition drastically from sunny days to low-medium lighting basement.

I am wondering what is the best and fastest way to achieve this, assuming I do not want the plants to produce new flowers, and that I’m going to chop it up a bit. I figured that topping the branches that have close to no peppers on them would be a good idea, but I have yet to find any information that confirms or deny it.

Also, what could be the downsides of this? Will the peppers degrade in quality? Or will it take ages for them to ripen? I mean, I could harvest them unripe and I’ll be pretty happy too, but I prefer ripe. If however it is not worth the effort, I’ll just harvest as it is and start the overwinter process.

Info: The plants are hot chili peppers ranging from mild to super-hot, in case that matters.

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    I do not understand. The chili pepper will growth also inside (not at the same rate, but they will continue to ripe and to flower). You may put on your living room: they survives also on shadow, and they are also decorative (most of the varieties). Just water them less, so that plants prioritize fruits instead of flowers. – Giacomo Catenazzi Sep 25 '18 at 9:13
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    I've overwintered chilis in a small growth chamber, about half a sun, and gotten ripening with a 14 hour day. You probably don't have the light or the temperature (80°F+) for it. The leaves are edible. Quite tasty, nuked with a little butter and lemon juice. – Wayfaring Stranger Sep 26 '18 at 14:40
  • @GiacomoCatenazzi No they will not survive in shadow. Perhaps you are thinking that they die slowly? Which is true. Watering less, starving plants of chemistry, watering too much, keeping plants in the darkness causes plants to flower prolifically if there is enough carbohydrates stored. The plant knows it is dying and its last hurrah will be to go to seed...flower. Old plants that flower profusely need attention right away as they are saying goodbye. – stormy Sep 26 '18 at 23:56
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    @stormy: We are discussing wintering, not normal/steady growth. And I can confirm that various chili plant can be put inside, on a side where they do no receive direct sun light, without much problems. It is a resting period for the plants (after a good season): they will still growth, but slowly. – Giacomo Catenazzi Sep 28 '18 at 7:36
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    Thanks for the clarification, Giacomo, I have just not lived where tomatoes or peppers aren't annuals. In fact, this time of year it seems a mercy for them to die, replaced next season by fresh stock. If anything, it looks like we might be moving to Alaska that actually has a longer growing season and predictable day/night temperatures than here in Oregon. We are furiously harvesting and using lots of reemay and a pellet stove in the greenhouse. It has been 12 to 15 degrees F below freezing every night past 2 weeks. Spider mite and aphids bad this year or I might try overwintering. – stormy Sep 28 '18 at 20:30
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Time to take them off the plant, J. I've never allowed peppers to mature on the plant especially when you are getting freezing nights. You don't want to have those peppers, the chilis themselves, freeze. The leaves will freeze first but once the fruits have frozen they would be ruined for sure.

how to dry chilis

String them up and hang in a dark, airy area to ripen. And they always ripen. Jalapenos turn red, all green peppers turn red. I am not a chili NUT yet so this is just my experience. These articles do suggest the longer on the plant the better but once they've started turning color (green to a spot of orange) they are considered ripe and fully flavored. I do this with tomatoes as well. As soon as I see a color change those tomatoes come off the vine to ripen indoors. And the flavor is so intense I can't believe allowing them to ripen on the vine would be any better.

My hubby and I argue this point constantly. Trouble is, we have maybe 2 months in a row of growing season without freezes so this is what we have to do anyway. Or lose our product.

I've never noticed any difference taste wise between vine ripened and ripened indoors. Not a chili stays green. Nor a tomato. Do you roast your chilis? I've built fire pits for chili nut type people. Grins! The sides are high enough to slowly roast peppers hanging over coals. fire pit

drying hot chilis

when to pick peppers

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    Even completely green tomatoes will ripen off the plant. It's worth saving even the small ones - though the smaller they are the longer they take to ripen. In the UK that can mean the small ones are ripe in time for Christmas! (I have no experience with peppers). – alephzero Sep 25 '18 at 0:25

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