Pepper picking

Credit: Brand X Pictures/Home and Garden/Alison Miksch

The timing of your question (winter) leads me to wonder if you have not received a Christmas pepper (Capsicum annuum) or a Jerusalem cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum). Both are commonly available towards Christmas as ornamental plants with their colourful fruits.

Christmas peppers are bred from hot chili and cayenne peppers and selected for their ornamental appearance, although their fruit is edible.

The Jerusalem cherry, however, is considered to be poisonous! Be positive of what you have before eating it.

If your pepper is really a fruiting variety, it can be harvested at any stage and the rotting parts cut out before using. A pepper will usually ripen red, if you wait long enough, but we prefer harvesting them at the green stage. Plants that lean over should be propped up with a short stake against the main trunk. Cut the stake off below the top of the plant so it is not visible.