Why Do My Peppers Taste Bitter?

I harvested all of my Bell Peppers today (Capsicum). I didn’t realise that the three plants I had were so laden with fruit. I’ve harvested about 15 Peppers – not bad!

The only problem is that they are a bit bitter. Too bitter to eat raw at least. It’s disappointing, especially since they look so gorgeous. I’ve grown Peppers before and not had this problem. But as you know, there is always one crop that doesn’t go to plan each year, even if you think you have it nailed. So I turned to my books for an answer.

After some research I think my problem is that we had a dry summer, I planted them against a sunny wall and they didn’t get enough water. I should have off-set the dry summer with regular watering. And although I did give the garden extra water I just don’t think the Peppers got enough. Apparently, if they don’t get enough water the result is bitter Peppers.

I should say that the Red Peppers are bitter too, although not as bad as the Green ones. Does anyone have any tips on what I can make with these? Or are they seed fodder?

13 Comments on “Why Do My Peppers Taste Bitter?

  1. I would make a chutney.
    Brunoise equal amounts by weight of bitter peppers, onions, pears, and saute till soft. add a bit of Vinegar, salt, sugar, and cinnamon to taste.
    Use as a topping for meats, or on toast.

  2. The peppers look great, I could never guess they are bitter. Is too bad they didn’t turn out how you expected.

    You can try to make some salsa, spicy chillis go well with bitter peppers, or if you are not that much into spicy, try cutting them in thin slices and pan fry them with onion and butter until you get some sweetness out of them or at least balance the bitterness, and then grill lightly with cheese.
    Goes great as a snack with toasts or in a taco.

    Hope next year turns out better

  3. I’d definitely finger lack of water as the culprit. Same problem with gherkins. Horrible taste if they’ve gone short.

  4. I love baked peppers. Cut off the top and dig out all the insides. Stuff with onions, garlic, ground beef, cooked rice, tomatoes, cheese, whatever else you want and put the top back on. Bake until everything is done through.

  5. You could do what my Italian mother-in-law showed me…roast them, peel off skin and cut into strips and marinate in extra virgin olive oil with crushed garlic, salt and pepper. The marinated roasted pepper slices are delicious on foccacia bread.

  6. They look great … especially the red ones!

    A couple of suggestions:

    1. Sweet Red Pepper Sauce.

    Bake the Red Peppers in the oven at 180 degrees for an hour, along with some chopped garlic, thyme, sea salt and a little vegetable oil.

    Then pour all the ingredients from the pan into a sieve and work with a tablespoon to remove the skins and seeds, and then put back on the heat.

    Add a bay leaf, pepper, a little white wine vinegar, brown sugar and grate some nutmeg.

    Return to the heat and reduce the mix until it thickens, should be about 5 minutes max. Take off the heat, allow to cool and store in the fridge.
    It’s gorgeous and goes really well with Pasta or Fish Pie. The sugar will offset the bitter taste of the peppers.

    2. Stuffed Green Peppers
    You could stuff the green ones with either a sweet rice stuffing, or with a force meat stuffing made from minced pork, a little breadcrumbs, egg to bind, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper and a smidgen of chilli sauce to mask the bitterness of the peppers.
    Bake in the oven with a little stock for about an hour and serve with a green salad and pan fried leeks.

    Hope this helps.

    Best wishes


  7. … I completely forgot to mention for the sweet red pepper sauce roast half a dozen ripe tomatoes along with the peppers for the extra juice and the sweetness of the tomatoes should also help to disguise the bitter taste of the peppers.


  8. Could too little water also mean that chillies don’t develop good taste and fire? Because I have a huge harvest of beautiful looking and totally tasteless chillies, that were supposed to be super hot. Think I should look in to that, perhaps it is worth overwintering them after all. Sorry, am thankful for the tip but cannot repay with tasty recipes for your bitter but lovely peppers…

  9. Hi MTP, too little water is what makes chillies and raddishes hot…i think…thats what happens to me.

  10. I found this clipping that may help answer your question

    RE: Why do our bell peppers taste NASTY??
    Check water Ph and soil Ph. Collect as much rain water as possible, rain water have more oxygen. Analize nutrients on your garden. The shade problem can be fix by adding Nitrogen, leaves will get bigger and if you water them more often size should increase. Size also is related to lack of P. Taste can be fixed by adding more k, which will increase color and taste. Feed with liquid fertilizers if they recommend 4 tbsp use one per gallon but do it more often. Be selective and harvest often and your plant will be more productive. Remember sandy soils require more water, if you mulch watch for mold. Bell peppers are water hungry, but if your ph is off nutrients will not be absorbed by the plant, and too much water will create blosson end rot.

  11. Hi, they look gorgeous.
    I tell you what I do every year when I harvest my tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onions.
    I prepare a bouillon? with the three items, as follow.
    I cut very small pieces of peppers and tomatoes. Then, I cut very very small garlic and onions.
    Fry them in a pan with olive oil, slow. incorporate thyme and pasrley. Add salt and pepper according to your taste.
    Once all is tender I put them in small containers and/or glass jars (sterilized) and keep them to cook with meat, chicken, spanish paella, etc. for the whole year. Even you can eat it by itself with bread.

  12. I have the same problem with my peppers tasting bitter, however i think mine is a diiferent reason as I grew my peepers in large pots in the greenhouse where they were watered regularly. I am going to try some of the recipes mentioned here although I do think mine are too biiter to anything with.