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5 Helpful Ways to Tell if a Pepper Has Gone Bad

Peppers are among the most nutritious and versatile veggies used in numerous recipes. They add color, flavor, and intensity but it’s important to identify if a pepper has gone bad to ensure you don’t ruin your dish.

To tell if a pepper has gone bad, check the outer layer of skin for wrinkles, soft spots, cracking, spots of discoloration, and holes. Though a bit of wrinkling is ok, soft spots and cracks on the surface are a clear indication of rotting from within. Fuzz and mold are also easy identifiers.

In this article, we’ll look at everything you need to look out for to determine if your pepper has spoiled.

Infographic displaying 5 signs a pepper is going bad. Created by Spicy Trio, feel free to share or use but please link back to us.

Key Indicators a Pepper Has Gone Bad

Peppers, like most other fresh vegetables, don’t have a long shelf-life. If not correctly harvested, cleaned, and stored, peppers can go bad within a week or two.

Let’s go through of some of the key signs of a pepper going bad.

Wrinkled Outer Skin

Fresh peppers have a smooth and firm outer skin. So, if you notice any wrinkles on the skin of peppers that were initially smooth and firm, it might be a sign that the peppers are drying out.

Wrinkles come in when the pepper begins to lose moisture, indicating that it’s on the verge of spoiling.

However, peppers in the early stages of wrinkling are still edible. You can still cook them, but they aren’t great if you are looking forward to eating them raw as with wrinkles comes the loss of the crisp tasting fresh pepper.

Soft Spots

Soft spots or dents in the body of your pepper may be signs of internal rotting.

Although you can spot most soft patches by just looking at a pepper, you can also test for their presence by pressing it gently with your fingers.

If you feel any soft spots or dents, then the pepper has most likely gone bad.

Fuzz and Mold

When it comes to fuzz and mold, it can be hard to see outward signs; however, you can spot the fuzzy mold around the stem or in the blossom end.

In some cases, fuzz and mold can also thrive in the wrinkled parts of a pepper, so be sure to inspect the wrinkles if there are any.

Fuzz and mold are signs of rotting, and like with most other veggies, you can cut out the affected part and use the rest of the pepper. Just be sure to thoroughly inspect what’s left as eating moldy vegetables can lead to illness. If you don’t want to risk getting sick, just throw out the whole pepper if you notice any sign of mold.


In most cases, cracks develop once the pepper has been dropped.

Cracking opens up a pepper allowing entry of contaminants that accelerate the rotting process.

So, if your pepper has cracks, go ahead and inspect whether there’s rotting around the cracked part, which may be indicated by mold and fuzz.

Spots of Discoloration

Besides soft spots, your pepper may also have some spots of discoloration. Although spots of discoloration may be signs that your pepper has gone bad, it’s not always the case.

Generally speaking, all peppers start out green and then change color as they mature. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be that unusual to see yellow, orange or red peeking through a green pepper. This just means it’s beginning to ripen.

However, if this discoloration is paired with soft spots or mold, then it’s time to throw the pepper away.


Just like cracks, holes on a pepper may act as entry points of pathogens, bacteria, and pests that speed up rotting. Additionally, such holes may be signs that the pepper has been infested by disease or attacked by pests.

If you spot holes in your pepper, it might be unsafe for consumption, and you should consider throwing it away.

Photo of three red bell peppers ripening on the vine
Photo by Iamtkb

Mistaken Signs that a Pepper Has Gone Bad

Although we’ve discussed some of the key indicators that a bell pepper has gone bad, there are some signs that may not truly mean your peppers need to go in the compost bin.

Here’s a rundown of the mistaken signs of spoilage that you should be wary of before throwing away your peppers.

Certain Types of Discoloration

As mentioned above, not all types of discoloration indicate spoilage of your peppers.

In most cases, you will find peppers changing color as they ripen. For example, a green pepper may begin turning into yellow, orange, or red as it ripens. Additionally, red or orange peppers may have a few spots that look brown or even black.

Therefore, if the discoloration seems to blend well with the rest of the pepper’s body and isn’t accompanied by soft patches or mold, your pepper is still fit for consumption.

Patches of slight discoloration are quite normal in peppers.

Lightweight Peppers

When picking peppers from the grocery store, you mostly look forward to picking the larger and heavier ones, right? Not all peppers, however, fall under this category and some are naturally lightweight.

So, if you find an abnormally lightweight pepper, try comparing it with the rest of the similar-sized peppers on display. If it feels firm and smooth (no wrinkles) and doesn’t have any molds, cracks, holes, soft spots, or strange smell, then it’s probably okay.

Small White and Beige Lines (Corking)

Corking is normal in peppers, and it manifests as white or beige lines parallel to each other, beginning from the stem extending to the blossom end.

Corking may signify that the pepper got a sudden burst of water during its growth which caused a crack that later healed, leaving behind small lines.

This isn’t a sign of spoilage, just a natural part of the pepper’s life. Corking on spicy peppers can also indicate that they will be quite hot, so can be a good thing for identifying hot peppers!

Deep Folds

Peppers don’t have uniform shapes. Some are more balloon-like, while others have multiple deep folds.

If you come across a pepper with deep folds, don’t throw it away. Instead, inspect its outward appearance. If it feels firm and smooth to touch, and doesn’t have any fuzz or mold then the folds shouldn’t be an issue.

Key indicators of spoilage in peppers, as well as the mistaken signs, are very similar. Therefore, before throwing your peppers into the garbage, take a closer look at them to reduce unnecessary wastage.

Is it Okay To Eat a Pepper if it is Wrinkled?

It is okay to eat a pepper if it is wrinkled, but we recommend cooking it first. Eating wrinkled peppers raw won’t be as enjoyable due to the lack of crunch. However, if you observe soft patches or fuzz and mold along with the wrinkles, the pepper may be spoiled, and you should throw it out.

Peppers are one of those veggies that often fall victim to wrinkles. These colorful vegetables get wrinkles when they lose a significant amount of moisture, while others have a natural wrinkled appearance.

As mentioned above, it’s always best to check your pepper for other signs of spoilage before consuming it, as wrinkling isn’t a definitive indicator.

Closing Thoughts

Although spotting a spoiled pepper may seem easy, it might be overwhelming if you can’t differentiate the key indicators and the mistaken signs of spoilage.

Some of the most clear signs of spoilage include holes, soft spots, fuzz, and mold. When it comes to wrinkles and certain spots of discoloration, chances are, your peppers are still edible.

In general, if there’s something about a pepper that seems to concern you, such as an unpleasant smell or taste, it’s better that you discard it. It’s better to be safe than sorry!