Why are my sweet peppers bitter?

enmnmJune 27, 2012

For the last 2 years I planted sweet peppers. They never bore much fruit, and what they did produce, was kinda awful. This year, I planted two in containers--a small snacking pepper and a red sweet one. Well, the plants are heathy, have lots of blossoms, and even fruit...but the peppers won't turn color. I don't want them on the bush any longer than necessary because I want the plant to continue producing, and also, they longer they are on the plant, the greater the chances are some critter will eat them. Plus, I'm hungry. :)

It's been 90+ days for the last 2 weeks or so, and the fruit--which are the right size, just stubbornly green and rather bitter (I tried two)--have not budged.

Is there anything I can do? Do you think there may be a vitamin deficiency?


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What type did you plant?

Have you ever had chiles that meet your standards from stores?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 2:42PM
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Agreed. Most bell peppers especially the open pollinated types were developed to hold their market appearance as long as possible, whether it be green, purple or white. Yellow, Orange, and Red are ripe colors and only recently have become popular. There are some new hybrids that ripen fast as compared to the older varieties. It can take as much a month for a full grown ( immature) pepper to ripen. As for the bitterness, green pepper has a unique taste, I would not describe it as bitter, but they are not sweet in the strict sense of the word either. Hopefully it is just that you don't like the taste of green peppers.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 4:18PM
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I don't grow in containers, but the only bitter sweet peppers I've had were from picking them when there weren't yet mature (such as picking a pepper while still green because it has sun scald or just getting in a hurry). In my zone 5 experience, with sweet peppers you cannot be in a hurry to pick the fruit, especially if you want them to turn color and taste the maximum sweet. I compensate for lower production by planting more pepper plants.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 5:14PM
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Wait until the color "breaks" (starts to show the changing color, red/orange/yellow/etc) before picking.

It won't slow down the plant much and you'll be assured of getting a pepper who's bitter/tartness is on the decline and being replaced by sugars + other flavors.

It can take up to a month (or as little as a couple of weeks) for some peppers to go from that "stopped getting bigger" stage to the breaking color stage.

Full sun (except scorching/leaf-fruit burning sun) is pretty important to getting the most flavor out of your peppers, too.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 5:58PM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

great photos farmer dill! Impressive harvest!

I haven't had a success with sweet peppers yet - hopefully - this year!

I have some tall plants putting out babies in a nice sunny location. so off to my best start so far...

Any soil amendment advice? water regime during the drought/heat wave?

I want my peppers to look just like yours!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 10:37AM
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Nothing special. I just add a little fertilizer to the rows. Transplant in well worked soil. I still use a plow and disk harrow. I do try to place them in an area where I can irrigate, They are fairly critical to water needs. They tolerate heat pretty well. Triple digits here for the next couple of months. Most of the bells are used for green stuffers, some for salads and prepared dishes. I have a friend who likes ripe bells, so I let a few ripen.
I grow frying types for ripe sweet peppers.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 11:23AM
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I believe one is Burpee's sweet bell red, and the other is a Bonnie snacking pepper. The burpee tag says that, even as green, it will have a bit of a sweet taste (but it didn't.) I keep them in the full sun and have been twiddling my thumbs waiting for them to start to turn. It's been nearly 3 weeks. I had hoped that the snacking pepper would mature quicker, as they're tiny (2-3 inches), but alas.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 12:25PM
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