Bell peppers

Harvesting and Handling

Sweet bell peppers are green at the immature stage (when most are sold) and turn red, gold, purple, orange and/or brown as they ripen. Because sugar content increases as they ripen, coloured peppers tend to be sweeter than green peppers. The most notable feature of peppers is flavour, which can be sweet, mild or strongly pungent.
Good quality sweet bell peppers should be of uniform shape, size and colour typical of the variety. The flesh (pericarp) should be firm, relatively thick with a bright skin colour and sweet flavour, and free from defects such as cracks, decay and sunburn. Peppers that are shrivelled and dull-looking or pitted should be avoided. The same quality criteria apply to fresh Chilli peppers. Dry lines or striations across the skin indicate a hotter pepper. These lines are not an indication of poor quality.

Chilli peppers occur in a number of varieties that vary greatly from mild to very hot, which is determined by capsaicin content.

Cooling and Storage

After harvest, fresh market peppers should be rapidly cooled to no lower than 7°C at high RH to reduce water loss and shrivel.

Fresh peppers can be kept for 2 to 3 weeks at 7°C with 90% to 95% RH. Storage-life can be extended another week by packaging in moisture-retentive films at 7°C to 10°C. Peppers are subject to chilling injury when stored below 7°C and to accelerated ripening and bacterial soft rot when stored above 13°C. Storage at 5°C reduces water loss and ripening, but after 2 weeks chilling injury will appear. Some peppers can be sensitive to chilling if stored at 7°C, so a good storage temperature range should be 7°C to 13°C.

Peppers are sensitive to chilling injury when stored below 7°C. Symptoms include surface pitting, water-soaked areas, decay and discolouration of the seed cavity. Symptoms can appear after a few days at 0°C or a few weeks at 5°C. Sensitivity varies with cultivar; ripe or coloured peppers are less chilling sensitive than green peppers.

Controlled atmosphere considerations

Peppers derive a slight benefit from CA storage.

Storage disorders

Alternaria rot, Anthracnose, Aspergillus rot, Black spot, Chilling injury, Cottony leak, Green pitting, Grey mould rot, Watery soft rot.