Hot peppers are grown for their spicy hot flavor and are used as seasoning for many Mexican dishes. How hot the pepper is depends on the particular variety and the stage of development. Hot peppers range from mild to fiery hot and all stages in between. When you harvest your hot peppers depends on personal preferences for both flavor and color.
Allow hot peppers to ripen on the vine for the hottest and most pungent flavor and mature coloring. Texas A&M University explains that mature hot peppers typically show small cracks around the stem end with darkened coloration in the same area.
Harvest immature hot peppers for "chile peppers" at any stage of development. Flavor is generally mild, but it enhances the flavor of Mexican cuisine. Taste test to determine if flavor is suitable for your needs.
Cut hot peppers from the plant with sharp knife, leaving a 1-inch section of the stem attached to the pepper. Pulling peppers from the stem risks injuring the plants.
Pull up entire plants, if you wish to dry your hot peppers. Hang the plant upside down in a dry, well-ventilated area to dry the peppers.