When to Harvest
Sweet or hot peppers mature anywhere from 50 to 75 days (7 to 11 weeks) after transplanting into the garden. The date varies with the variety and the weather. Plants will produce peppers until the first frost in the fall.
Pick sweet peppers when they are bright green and full sized. At maturity their skin is firm and shiny. The larger the pepper is allowed to grow, the thicker its skin grows. Those permitted to ripen an extra few weeks (4 to 6) will turn a rich red color and is usually much sweeter and has more vitamin A and vitamin C. Cut fruit stems with a sharp knife or pruners to avoid snapping off brittle branches. Be sure to keep picking to encourage the plants to continue to set fruit. Harvest peppers over the entire season until the first frost in the fall blackens the plants and kills them.
Fresh - Ideally, peppers have the best flavor picked fresh and not refrigerated. If you wish to keep them for more than two days you should refrigerate peppers in plastic bags, making sure they are dry when you place them in the bag. They will keep for 1 to 2 weeks, green ones lasting longer than the fully ripe red ones.
Peppers freeze very well. They lose their crispness, but they retain excellent flavor for sauces, soups, and stews for up to three months. Wash peppers and remove the stems. Cut them open and remove the seeds and pulpy membrane inside. Cut them into slices or chunks and package them n plastic freezer bags or boxes.
Select peppers that have bright skins for drying. If you are drying peppers whole, puncture the skin to allow dry air to get inside. However, slicing peppers is the best method. Remove the cores and seeds. Drying in a food dehydrator can take from ... to ... hours depending on the weather and the machine. (Mary Bell, what are some common uses and some tricks for dried green peppers?)