After you have grown fresh hot peppers in your outdoor garden, you may end up with more peppers than you expected. However, you can store many of you excess pepper in glass mason jars. To add flavor to your peppers you also can store them with an apple cider mixture. You will achieve the best flavor the longer the hot peppers are stored and marinated in the apple cider vinegar mixture.
Wash your fresh hot peppers in cool running water and allow them to dry over paper towels.
Place your hot peppers on a cutting board and slice the peppers into 1/2-inch slices using a sharp knife.
Add the hot pepper slices to a glass jar and make sure to leave at least two inches of space at the top of the jar.
Add 1/2 cup of water, 1-1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1/2 cup of olive oil to a medium saucepan, and bring the mixture to a boil.
Stir the mixture and continue boiling for five minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow at least 10 minutes for the mixture to cool.
Pour the mixture into the jar with the hot peppers and tighten the lid over the jar. Store the jar in a cool and dark place or in your refrigerator. Peppers can be stored up to three months.
Whether using organic fertilizer, such as dried manure or cottonseed meal, or commercial synthetic fertilizer, the best fertilizer for growing hot peppers is low-nitrogen fertilizer. Therefore, look for fertilizers with a 1-2-2 ratio, or one part nitrogen to two parts each of phosphorus and potassium. Common balanced commercial fertilizers used for hot peppers are 5-10-10 and 8-16-16. In addition, add extra magnesium -- Epsom salt is an effective source -- when plants blossom and again 10 days later.
How to Apply
Apply fertilizer to hot peppers when first transplanted and then add a second application, or side dressing, after the first peppers have set to give plants an extra nutritional boost. Cornell University's Cooperative Extension recommends using a foliar fertilizer, which is fertilizer added to water and then sprayed directly onto foliage, because it is quick-acting versus fertilizer mixed into the ground.
Unless using a foliar fertilizer, fertilizer should not come in contact with hot pepper plants because it will burn them. Fertilizer should be added to soil several inches from the growing plant.
Immediately prune away and discard any damaged, discolored or diseased leaves or branches throughout the growing season.
Lightly prune pepper plants in southern warmer climates (with a late or no onset of frost) in the summer to encourage more fruit in the fall. Remove no more than 1/4 of the total plant, placing cuts evenly throughout the small shrub.
Cut pepper plants down to the ground after the first hard frost has turned the foliage dark and the plant begins to collapse. Discard or compost the cuttings.
Fill individual seed-starting pots with a sterile potting mix. Water the mix until it is evenly moist throughout but not soggy.
Plant each seed to a 1/4 inch depth in the center of a pot. Cover lightly with potting mix.
Cover the pots with a plastic bag. Place in a warm, 70 to 75 degree Fahrenheit room to germinate. Germination takes up to 14 days.
Remove the bag once sprouts appear. Move the plants to a sunny window sill in a warm room or place under grow lights for 16 hours a day.
Keep the soil moist at all times, watering as needed to maintain soil moisture.
Transplant hot peppers outside two weeks after all frost danger has passed in spring. Choose a well-draining, full-sun garden bed.
Plant Calabrian peppers in the bed to the same depth they were at in their seedling pot. Follow spacing requirements as outlined on the seed envelope for the specific pepper variety, or space plants approximately 18 inches apart in rows.
Provide 2 inches of water per plant each week. Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch around each pepper plant to preserve soil moisture while preventing weeds.
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.
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