If you harvest your Jalapeños when they’re green, seeing one that’s turned black can come as a shock. If that’s happened to you, you’re probably wondering why this happens and if it means that the blackened Jalapeños are spoiled?
Some Jalapeños may turn black as part of the ripening process. Jalapeños generally transition from green to black before turning red or orange. However, if the black areas are soft and wet, it’s likely your Jalapeños have blossom-end rot or a fungal disease.
So, your Jalapeño turning black isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Before you get yourself in a pickle about it, take a moment to read this article. It’ll help you understand why Jalapeños turn black and what you can do to avoid it if it is an issue rather than part of the ripening process.
Why Did My Jalapeño Pepper Turn Black?
In the garden, you probably associate the color black with something bad. But that’s not always the case. So, let’s look at some reasons your Jalapeños may turn black.
It’s Part of the Ripening Process
If you usually harvest your Jalapeños when they’re green, you’re picking a fruit that hasn’t fully ripened. So, while green Jalapeños are what you most often see and eat, ripe ones are usually red, orange, or yellow.
Jalapeños go through a gradual color change to get to their ripe color. So, they may start off a light shade of green, slowly darkening to a deeper shade. That’s when you usually harvest them.
However, if left on the plant, the green shade will get darker and darker before turning red or orange. The color you see may be black or a deep green or purple that is very close to black. In this case, the black color is totally fine and does not mean that your Jalapeños are inedible. Some people actually wait until they Jalapeños reach this darker color, as it means they will taste spicier than the lighter green versions.
This video explains the color changes you might see in peppers as they ripen, including Jalapeños:
While your Jalapeños turning black may not always be a problem, you need to check them closely, to ensure they are not infected. Like tomatoes, Jalapeños are susceptible to blossom-end rot.
As the name suggests, this type of rot can turn your Jalapeños black at the tip or bottom end.
You can see what the damage from blossom-end rot looks like in this video:
As you can see, it looks pretty nasty, and it’s very different from the firm, glossy blackening you might see during the ripening process, so it’s fairly easy to distinguish the two.
If anthracnose, a fungal disease, has infected your Jalapeños, you’ll see soft black lesions on the fruit, leaves, or stems. They can appear anywhere, not just on the end of the fruit.
The black lesions start off as light-colored with orange or brown areas in the middle. That’s the early warning that your Jalapeños have the disease. As the infection progresses, the lesions turn black.
Phytophthora blight is another fungal infection that can affect Jalapeños. It can affect most parts of the plant, including the fruits.
Infection in the roots may cause your plants to wilt, and infected leaves eventually dry out. If the infection gets to the fruits, it can turn the whole fruit black as it rots.
Why Did My Jalapeño Pepper Stem Turn Black?
Although black stems may not be anything to worry about if you’re growing Bell peppers, it may be an issue for Jalapeños.
This fungal infection mentioned above doesn’t just turn your Jalapeños black, but it can also affect the plant’s stems.
So, if you see black rings around the stems, this infection may be the reason. If so, you’ll notice the leaves wilting. That’s because the stem is rotting from within, preventing nutrients from reaching the foliage and fruit.
Cankerous black joints on your Jalapeños could be a sign of fusarium disease.
It’s another fungal disease that affects the stem, but it can also show up as blackening spots on the calyx on the plant’s flowers.
What Does It Mean When My Jalapeño Pepper Turns Black?
As you’ve seen above, if your Jalapeños are turning black, this may simply be part of the ripening process.
However, if your Jalapeños are turning black because of one of the issues described above, here’s what it means.
Blossom-end rot is generally a sign of calcium deficiencies in the fruit due to:
- Not enough calcium in the soil.
- Using nitrogen-rich fertilizer, which speeds shoot growth but diverts calcium to those shoots instead of the fruit.
- Over-fertilizing, increasing the soil sodium content, which makes it hard for the roots to take up the calcium-containing water.
- A drought spell, or underwatering, depriving the plant of calcium from the water.
- Using a fertilizer with high ammonium salt levels, which reduces the uptake of calcium by the roots.
If your Jalapeños are infected with anthracnose, it may mean:
- You planted infected seeds.
- You planted your Jalapeños in the same spot as you previously planted other Solanaceae (nightshade) plants like tomatoes, potatoes, or eggplants.
- You left infected plant debris or weeds nearby, and the fungal spores have spread to your Jalapeños with rain or watering.
- You are watering plants from above and splashing infection spores onto your Jalapeños.
The fungus, Phytophthora capsici, can be naturally present in the soil. If it affects your Jalapeños, then it might mean that:
- Drainage is inadequate.
- The soil and weather are too warm and wet.
- You planted infected seeds.
So now you’ve discovered what it means when your Jalapeños turn black, you probably want to know how to avoid it. So, let’s take a look.
Is There Any Way to Prevent a Jalapeños from Turning Black?
If your Jalapeño plant is healthy, all you need to do to prevent it from going black is to pick and eat it while it’s still green.
For other causes, here’s what you can do:
To address calcium deficiencies:
- Before planting, test your soil and add calcium to it by mixing in lime, gypsum, or bone meal.
- Switch to a low-nitrogen, non-ammonium fertilizer.
- Add mulch around the plants to retain moisture and ensure you don’t over or under-water.
To avoid anthracnose infections:
- Buy seeds from a reputable supplier or only collect seeds from healthy plants.
- Don’t plant Jalapeños in the same area that you planted other plants of the nightshade family in the last three years.
- Remove plant debris and weeds regularly.
- Avoid watering from overhead to reduce the risk of splashing the infection.
- Pick Jalapeños as soon as possible, as leaving them on the plant increases the risk of infection.
Because Phytophthora capsicican be naturally present in the soil:
- Provide good drainage to avoid water settling then splashing the infection onto plants.
- For the same reason, don’t over-water.
- Mulch bare soil around plants with straw to prevent splashing.
- Avoid overhead watering.
- Don’t plant Jalapeños close to other plants prone to the disease, like tomatoes and eggplants.
- Use commercially-bought, disease-free seeds.
Are Black Jalapenos Safe to Eat?
Whether you can safely eat black Jalapeños depends on why they’re black.
Obviously, if your Jalapeños are a black variety, your ripe fruit will be perfectly safe to eat.
Also, if your peppers are turning black because of the ripening process, they’re still okay to eat. Like all peppers, Jalapeños are safe to eat at any stage in the ripening process.
However, if the black areas on your Jalapeños are soft or mushy, this may be due to disease. So, it’s best to avoid eating them.
Are Black Jalapenos Spicier Than Green Ones?
You probably think that black Jalapeños have been on the plant for longer than green ones.
So, it’s natural to assume there’ll be more of the heat-generating chemical, capsaicin, in the fruit. But that may not be the case.
Researchers found that capsaicin in Cayenne peppers increased only up to the fortieth day of ripening. After that, the capsaicin level decreased.
Another study found that in Habanero peppers, capsaicin levels increased for around fifty days after the fruit had set but declined after that.
These studies suggest that a Jalapeño that’s turned black on its way to full ripeness or a black variety won’t necessarily be spicier than green ones. It will depend on how long it’s been ripening.
Jalapeños may turn black as part of the plant’s natural ripening process, so they may not be a cause for concern.
But some diseases may also cause your Jalapeños black, so if the blackened areas feel soft or damp, you may have a problem. In these cases, do not consume the blackened Jalapeños.
Here are Some of my Favorite Gardening Products and Tools
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful for growing some new plants in your home or garden. Here are some products I like that I hope you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, and I am compensated for referring traffic. But in all honesty, these are the exact product that I use or recommend to everyone.
Soil: For high-quality soil, I really like Fox Farm Ocean Forest. I do all my growing in containers and this soil has worked great for me. I like how they use nutrient-rich contents like earthworm castings, bat guano, and composted crab and fish.
Fertilizer: Currently I am using a seaweed-based organic fertilizer call Neptunes Harvest. This is a great milder fertilizer option if you want to use something organic. If you want a more powerful fertilizer, I recommend Fox Farm Liquid Nutrient Trio, lots of people have had great growing success with this product.
Pruning Shears: Pruning shears are one of the most useful gardening tools to have because it’s important to prune your plants to keep them healthy. The pruning shears I recommend are the Gonicc 8’’ pruning shears. I like them because they are built sturdy and work both on bigger and smaller plants, so you don’t need to have multiple pruning shears.
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