The Holy Mole chili pepper was developed as a hybrid of the Pasilla chili pepper to give gardeners an earlier and bountiful harvest yield of peppers. It is one of the most popular varieties and is resistant to potato virus Y and Tobacco Mosaic Virus Strains 0, 1 and 2.
Holy Mole is a mildly hot pepper, around 700 on the Scoville scale, the fruits have a faint nutty flavour. Peppers can begin to be picked 85 days from planting, when the 18 to 22cm (7 to 9in) long peppers are still an immature lime green colour. As they mature, the peppers will turn dark green, then, finally, a rich dark brown colour at complete maturity. They can be harvested at any stage, but seed gathering for saving should be from completely mature peppers.
As its name implies, Holy Mole peppers are ideal for culinary dishes that call for mole (Moh-lay) sauce. The pepper is roasted, or dried, then ground for inclusion in the sauce recipe. Holy Mole peppers are not just for making sauces, they can also be used in any recipe calling for fresh chili peppers, they give the dish a mildly hot, nutty and tangy flavour. They can also be dried for later use. When dried they can be used for chili powder, added to roast or grilled meats, vegetables and mayonnaise. A pinch adds flavour without adding any real heat.
Holy Mole pepper plants grow to a height of 50cm (20in) with a spread of 50cm (20in). The leaves are large, with a smooth green appearance that create a full bush look. As the long, slender peppers form and grow among the leaves, gradually changing colour from lime green to dark green and, finally, a striking dark chocolate brown.
In America in 2007, the Holy Mole pepper was selected as the only vegetable to receive the AAS award.
Storage of Seeds:
Store seeds away from children, sealed in their packaging in a cool, dry, dark place, or in a fridge. Never store them in a freezer as the sudden temperature drop is likely to kill them. Don't leave the seeds in direct sunlight as the heat generated may kill them.
Sowing: Sow from mid February to mid June
The temperature, moisture, and air circulation all play a role in growing plants from seeds. Too little heat, too much moisture, and lack of air circulation will cause poor results. Do not use jiffy peat pots, plugs, or potting soil as the soil becomes too dry or too wet, which can lead to low germination, disease and fungus.
Fill small cells or trays with a good sterile seed compost and sow the seeds on the surface. “Just cover” with a fine sprinkling (3mm) of soil or vermiculite.
Keep the compost moist - don't let the top of the compost dry out (a common cause of germination failure) If you wish, spray the surface with a dilute copper-based fungicide.
Cover the pot or tray with plastic film or place in a heated propagator, south facing window or a warm greenhouse. The ideal temperature is around 18 to 20°C (65 to 72°F)
When the seedlings have produced their first pair of true leaves they can be potted on into individual 7 to 10cm (3 to 4in) pots. Use good quality potting compost and mix in some organic slow release fertiliser. Pot the chilli on again before it becomes root-bound.
Water the seedlings regularly, but don't let them become waterlogged as this encourages rot. Don't let them dry out as they rarely recover at this stage. Water the soil, not the foliage. Once the plants have established, it is better to water heavy and infrequently, allow the top inch or so to dry out in between watering.
Seedlings should be grown in good light, but should not be exposed to direct sunlight from late spring to early autumn. Weaker sunlight from autumn to spring is unlikely to do them harm. Once seedlings have put on some growth they need lots of light. Growing them under a grow-light produces excellent stocky plants, as will a warm sunny windowsill. Adult chilli plants need lots of light. However, more than 4 hours or so in hot direct sunlight will dry them out quickly.
Acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 2 to 3 weeks before they are moved permanently outside. Plant them into rich moist soil. Flower do not form and fruit will not set if the temperature is much below 17°C (62°F) for most of the day, so wait until June/July for best results with outdoor planting.
After the first flowers appear, feed every one or two weeks with a half-strength liquid tomato feed. You could also add Seaweed extract to the water once a week.
Pollinating Flowers: (optional)
Chilli plants are self fertile and will generally pollinate themselves. However, if you want to give them a helping hand to ensure that lots of fruit are set indoors, use a cotton wool bud to gently sweep the inside of the flowers, spreading the pollen as you go. The flower's petals will drop off as the green middle part of the flower starts to swell slightly. This is the chilli pepper beginning to grow.
Harvesting: Harvest in 80 to 85 days
The peppers are usually ready to be harvested 75 to 85 days after they are planted. The peppers should be 18 to 22cm (7 to 9in) long. When the peppers are fully grown but still not matured, they will be a light green colour. As they mature they will turn dark green and finally dark brown. They can be harvested during any of these stages, however, the more mature peppers typically have a richer flavour.
Use scissors to snip the fruits so you don't damage the plant.
Be careful handling chilli seeds as they can cause a painful burning sensation: Avoid contact with the eyes or any sensitive skin before washing your hands thoroughly.
As with so many iconic dishes in a country's culinary heritage, Mexican mole has a creation tale.
The story goes that in the late 17th century, the Dominican sisters of the Convent of Santa Rosa in the city of Puebla heard that the archbishop was to pay a visit. The sisters were poor and had to scramble to put a meal together and gathered the ingredients they had, dried chili peppers, chocolate, stale bread, nuts and more to make a sauce for wild turkey. The meal was such a hit with the archbishop, legend has it, that mole became a symbol of Mexican cuisine, up there with the taco. There are other versions of the story, but you get the idea, it’s not a dish made with expensive ingredients.
But as Maricel Presilla writes in her book, Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America, the back story of mole is not so simple. The famed Holy Mole comes from a long line of parents, such as the pre-Columbian chile-thickened sauces ... and thickened chocolate drinks. Look even closer at the nuns' kitchen and you'll start to see the whole clan of ancestors, often using nuts as a thickener, for example, which was a keynote of Spanish medieval cooking.
The pasilla chili is similar, but not identical to, the poblano chile. Some people believe the pasilla and poblano to be the same species, but they are not. Dried chilaca is pasilla, while dried poblano is called ancho.
Chili, or chile is the dominant Spanish word for peppers, although the native Indian term 'aji' is used in some countries like Chile, whose name is unrelated to the pepper. The name is a variation of the Nahuatl (the Aztec language) word, chilli. The term is a misnomer: Christopher Columbus, upon tasting chilies for the first time, thought the spicy-hot ingredient was a variation of the Indian pepper, Piper nigrum, which he knew from the old world. The name combined the new world word, chilli, with the inaccurate old world word, pepper.
'Holy Mole' is named after the classic Mexican sauce Mole. Pronounced Moh-lay it is sometimes called ‘the national dish of Mexico’, the name covers a variety of sauces and dips where this type of chili included in many of the variations. We are probably more familiar with the word guacamole, the avocado-based dip that also began with the Aztecs in Mexico.
Mole itself is derived in part from the Aztec recipe for chocolate, with the basic ingredients being roasted cacao beans flavoured with chili peppers. The word originally comes from the Aztec word molli,. In native Nahuatl, spoken in Cental Mexico mulli or molli which translates as ‘concoction’ or 'mixture', otherwise known as a sauce. It is a generic name for a number of complex sauces containing chocolate, chili peppers, peanuts, and a myriad of spices, which give it variety in colour and flavour.
The chiles ancho, mulato and pasilla are said to make up the 'holy trinity' of a mole sauce.
In Mexico, Mole is the most iconic sauce in Mexican cuisine. It is served at celebrations and important events like weddings, baptisms and at Christmas, but because it can be so time-consuming people don’t make it every day. Often mole includes over 15 ingredients and a great mole can take a couple of days to prepare. It really is a labour of love and patience.
Many people think they should be able to taste the coriander, or the chocolate or the cinnamon, or a specific ingredient. But Mexican food is not about individual flavours, it’s about balance, the fusion of ingredients and the marriage of flavours. If one ingredient stands out from the rest, then that’s not what you’re looking for.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 10 Seeds Common Name Mild: 700 SHU. Other Common Names Hybrid Pasilla type Family Solanaceae Genus Capsicum Species annuum var. longum Cultivar Holy Mole Synonym Chilli or chilie pepper Hardiness Tender Perennial often used as an Annual Fruit 18 to 22cm (7 to 9in) long, maturing from light green to dark brown Height 50cm (20in) Spread 50cm (20in) Position Grown in good light, but should not be exposed to direct sunlight Soil Rich moist soil. Time to Sow Sow from mid February to mid June Time to Harvest 85 days.