I received some sort of green chilli pepper plant from a friend. (I don't know which kind; the flowers are small, white, and five-petalled.)

Usually, when the chillies are around a handspan in length, I harvest them. Since early frost is October 1st, I harvested the remaining few and left the plant to "hibernate."

Two days ago, I noticed a single, bright red chilli pepper growing on the plant.

What makes chillies turn red/yellow/orange? Is it simply a function of ripening time, after some length is achieved?

1 Answer 1


A red chilli is just a ripe green chilli, or a green chilli is just an under-ripe red or yellow chilli.

  • Are you trying to tell me that every type of chilli turns red if left long enough to ripen? Jalapenos sure don't seem to follow this rule.
    – ashes999
    Commented Nov 11, 2013 at 2:49
  • Eventually yes, perhaps at this stage some chillies have been bred to virtually never ripen, but a green chilli is always an underripe chilli (though green may be considered ripe - just to confuse things).
    – Toby Allen
    Commented Nov 11, 2013 at 8:26
  • 1
    That is confusing. We south asians consume a lot of green chillies, but rarely red ones (other than ground up into powder). Thanks for the enlightenment. +1
    – ashes999
    Commented Nov 11, 2013 at 14:37
  • 1
    @TobyAllen Not every chilli ripens red. Yellow and orange are common ripening colors, although red is more common. Some chillis ripen brown. Jalapenos generally, if not always, ripen red, however (but some varieties of jalapenos may turn other colors before red, such as purple or black). Strictly speaking, there actually are a few green-ripening varieties of peppers (e.g. Permagreen, Staysgreen, green habanero, and 7-pot Evergreen). There might be an evergreen jalapeno, but I'm not sure on that one. Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 10:47

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