I'm afraid that they might get cross-pollinated with other peppers and won't come true. I do have a FEW other peppers growing near by. Are my worries unfounded? I should probably ask FarmerDill or Critterologist, huh.
I've been told that peppers cross-pollinate fairly easily, that even the wind can do it, and the 200 feet isn't even enough separation to prevent it. That said, I've been growing out saved seeds from unisolated, unbagged blossoms for several years now, and as far as I can tell they have remained true to type. I did have some purple cayenne seeds that grew out green without any purple on the stem, and I just discarded those and kept the seedlings that grew out purple -- but I think that plant was a hybrid to start with, so I wasn't expecting them to grow true anyway.
I've traded or given away a lot of pepper seeds, and the cross pollination issue is why I always try to make it clear that my seeds weren't isolated, so I can't guarantee purity. It doesn't seem to be a big deal to most people with home gardeners, as they figure a pepper that isn't true to type might still produce lots of tasty peppers. I do choose the peppers that I use for seeds carefully, trying to take ones near the base of the plant (out of the wind) that aren't right on top of peppers of another variety, but that's not the same as bagging blossoms or covering plants with row cover cages. If you want to make sure everybody will want to trade with you, then bag blossoms. But I will trade with you either way! :-)
I find that bagging a few blossoms before they open and then marking the stem they're on with string works fine. After the pepper starts appearing you can take off the bag and only use those marked peppers for replanting/trading.
I use organza sachets you can find in the wedding isle of most stores.
Oh, and I should add that I think it's best to take seeds from fully ripe peppers... once they have stopped changing color and you think they are as red/orange/etc as they are going to get, give them a couple of extra days, but then pick them before they start getting soft. You can remove the seeds when the peppers are fresh, or cut the pepper in half and let it dry first. Either way, let the seeds dry on a paper plate for at least a couple of weeks before you pack them up. When you can pick a seed up and snap it in half, they are dry enough to store... if the seed just bends, it needs more time to dry. If in doubt, package in paper rather than in plastic -- moist seeds in plastic baggies will get yucky.
for those of you who are concerned about keeping your varieties pure. You can isolate parts of your plants with pollen proof filter paper/ hepa filter paper. It allows light and air to pass. This is available in Europe and I am sure it will be in USA too. Or you gan do a google for a supplier.
Just cut a square of filter paper and bag it around the branch and tie it with some twine - tight but not enough to damage the stem.
I love the organza bag idea but wonder if it is fine enough to keep out a swathe of pollen from a neighbouring plant.
In 5 years of saving seeds from peppers, I have not been lucky enough to get one plant to ever grow untrue to it's parent. This year I finally bagged plants and used q-tips to help pollinate. Anyhow, I don't think you should worry too much, the blossoms on most varieties face downward which helps to keep pollen from getting in from the outside.
All of the above posts sound logical and reasonable, but I haven't tried to bag them yet. Been too busy w/ other real life stuff.
Anyhoo, I'm wondering how I can tell if the peppers are ripe. I've been waiting very patiently for a blush or red or something but the most I can see is the purple turning slightly brown. Don't know if that means ripe or if it's because the weather has been blistering hot for the last few days.
Regardless of the color, the peppers do have heat, though. I'd rate it at about an 8 on a 1 to 10 scale. Medium flesh and not too many seeds.
Okay, my purple peppers turn red when ripe. I know this because I picked a few "for the road" before leaving on vacation and they turned red. I can only imagine that the rest that were still on the plants are all red by now...and I'm not home to witness it. boohoohoo. Same thing with my tomatoes! I'm going through gardening withdrawal and have to satisfy my cravings by logging on to DG and admire other people's babies... I mean plants. (heavy sigh)
Okay, I'm back home and have seen for myself that they do turn a bright red when ripe. However, they have the most heat and peppery taste when they have just turned brown. They become a bit too soft for my taste when they're red.