By: Laura Miller
Is your palate hungry for something a little spicier than a jalapenopepper, but not as mind- altering as the habanero?You might want to try the serrano pepper. Growing these medium-hot chilipeppers isn’t hard. Plus, the serrano pepper plant is quite prolific, soyou won’t need to devote much garden space to get decent yields.
Originating in the mountains of Mexico, the serrano is oneof the spicy hot typesof chili peppers. Their hotness ranges between 10,000 and 23,000 on theScoville heat scale. This makes the serrano about twice as hot as the jalapeno.
Although nowhere near as hot as the habanero, the serranostill packs a punch. So much so that gardeners and home cooks are advised towear disposable gloves when picking, handling and cutting serrano peppers.
Many serrano peppers mature between 1 and 2 inches (2.5 to 5cm.) in length, but larger varieties grow to be twice that size. The pepper isnarrow with a slight taper and a rounded tip. Compared to other chilies,serrano peppers have a thin skin, which makes them an excellent choice forsalsas. They are dark green in color, but if allowed to mature they can turnred, orange, yellow or brown.
In colder climates, start serrano pepper plants indoors.Transplant to the garden only after night time temperatures stabilize above 50degrees F. (10 C.), as low soil temperatures can stunt the growth and rootdevelopment of chilies, including the serrano pepper. Growing them in a sunnylocation is recommended.
Like most varieties of peppers, serrano plants grow best inrich, organic soil. Avoid fertilizers with a high nitrogen content, as this canlower fruit output. In the garden, space each serrano pepper plant 12 to 24inches (30 to 61 cm.) apart. Serrano peppers like slightly acidic pH (5.5 to7.0) soil. Serrano peppers are container friendly too.
Serrano peppers are quite prolific and it’s not unheard ofto harvest as much as 2.5 pounds (1 kg.) of chilies per serrano pepper plant.Deciding what to do with serrano peppers is easy:
Of course, if you’re an aficionado of hot peppers and aregrowing them to challenge your friends to a hot pepper eating contest, here’s atip: The color of the veins in a serrano pepper can indicate how potent thatpepper will be. Yellowish orange veins hold the most heat!
This article was last updated on
This three-to-four inch long cylindrical fruit is the choice pepper for making pico de gallo. Mostly picked green, serranos will ripen to a bright fire engine red if left long enough on the plant. These peppers are considered hot with a Scoville rating of between 15,000-30,000. One plant will pump out dozens of fruits.
In USDA zones 10 and above, grow peppers all year long as perennial plants. They can be started at any time of the year by sowing seed directly in the ground or in a pot.
Plant pepper seeds indoors 8-12 weeks before the last frost date in your region. Keep the seed trays at temperatures between 65-75°F (18-23°C). They will sprout within 5 days. Use a standard potting mix or make your own by combining the following ingredients in three equal parts.
Keep the seeds moist but avoid over-watering. Soggy soil can lead to dampening off, a condition in which seedlings fall over and die from a rot in the stem at the soil surface. The best way to water seedlings is from the bottom. Pour water into the bottom of the trays and allow it to wick up through the soil.
A few weeks after the last frost date when nighttime temperatures are safely above 60°F (15°C), you can begin to acclimate your plants for transplant.
Prepare an outdoor planting bed with well-draining soil. Amend it with 6-8 inches of rich compost and some oyster shell for calcium. The bed should be in full sun, though having some taller companions to provide a bit of dappled shade doesn’t hurt.
Acclimate your pepper plants to the outdoors by bringing them outside each day. Increase the amount of time they spend outdoors and their exposure to direct light, wind, and temperature fluctuations. This process may take a week, and plants should only be planted outside once they show no signs of stress after being outdoors for 24 hours.
Your plants shouldn’t need any additional feeding until they begin to put fruit on. When the fruits are small, apply some compost tea as a liquid fertilizer to encourage healthy pepper growth.
Harvest serrano peppers when they reach 3-4 inches long and round out. Typically they are harvested green, but there is no reason that you can’t leave them on the plant until they turn red. Hot peppers can be preserved a number of ways. They can be frozen, dried, canned, or pickled.
Serrano peppers should be started indoors and then moved outdoors three weeks after last frost. You also want to be certain that the temperatures at night have stabilized above 55 degrees. Plant serrano pepper plants in a location that receives a lot of sun and heat however, note that temperatures too far above 75 degrees can reduce your harvest.
If you are growing your serrano peppers in a container, that container should be no smaller than 3 gallons but the ideal size is closer to 5 gallons. The larger the container size, the lower the likelihood of the pepper plant becoming root bound.
Serrano pepper plants grown in cooler climates can be overwintered by bringing the plants inside in a pot and allowing them to go dormant. The top growth of the pepper plants will die away and then rot. As the top growth yellows and dies, prune it back to within a few inches of the surface of the soil and discard the dead plant parts. This will help to prevent mold growing on the dead vegetation and spreading to the rest of the plant.
Avid gardener, traveler and writer, Rick Kurtz has scaled the Himalayas in search of a good story. Having traveled across four continents, he has experienced life in dozens of different countries. An experienced academic and commercial writer, Kurtz holds an MA in Social Science.
Whether you’re looking for help choosing the best, keeping them fresh, or whipping up something tasty, we’ve got you covered! Below are some of our favorite tips and tricks to keep in mind when dealing with peppers.
Selecting the perfect pepper can be difficult. Especially when picking out bell peppers, you’ll want to make sure to keep these things in mind:
Storing your peppers can prolong their shelf life! Keep your peppers unwashed, dry, and in your crisper drawer. Kept this way, your bell peppers should last about 1-2 weeks. When you’re ready to eat, wash them, and cook as desired. Cooked peppers will last approximately 3-5 days.
Cooked or raw, peppers are great ways to add some color and serious flavor to your dishes! With so many delicious recipes to choose from, it can be difficult to pick just one. Try this tasty stuffed bell pepper recipe!