Poblano Peppers are arguably the most under-rated pepper in the pepper family. They do not get nearly the attention of the jalapeño or cayenne pepper, but poblanos are packed with flavour. They have that great pepper taste but are much milder so are perfect for adding just a touch of zing to spaghetti sauces, sandwiches, steaks and hundreds of other dishes. One other quality of this pepper is that they are very easy to grow, and even easier to harvest.
The extremely productive plants are multi-stemmed and reach 75 to 90cm (30 to 36in) in height. The pod itself is about 10 to 15cm (4 to 6in) long and about 5 to 8cm (2 to 3in) wide with a slight taper and blunt end. The poblano is dark green in colour but eventually ripens to a red so dark as to be nearly black. They can be used either green or red. 90 to 110 days to maturity.
Poblanos have a mild pungency, ranging from 600 to 1,500 Scoville units. Their delicate heat gives a gentle kick to salsa, dips and stuffing mixes or they can be sautéed. The peppers are usually roasted and peeled before use. They have very thick walls, which make them great for stuffing.
The Poblano is a mild chile pepper originating in the State of Puebla, Mexico. It is one of the most popular peppers grown in Mexico. The peppers are usually known as Poblano when green and Ancho when ripened to red and dried. When dried this pepper becomes a broad, flat, heart-shaped pod, it is often ground into a powder used for flavouring recipes. Ancho means 'wide' in Spanish.
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 1 or 2 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.
Chillies will take a few weeks to develop and a further couple weeks to turn from green to red. Harvest any time after they are fully developed but the longer you leave them on the hotter they will become. Harvest peppers as they mature to encourage new buds to form. Use scissors so you don't damage the plant.
After harvesting eat fresh or dry the peppers by putting them into a mesh bag, hang the bag up in a dry, airy, but not sunny spot. When they are completely dry, you can make paprika by grinding the peppers. Don't grind the stalks. You can regulate the spiciness of the result by including more or less of the seeds and veins.
The fruit can be used green or ripe, and it can be seeded and frozen for use over the winter, a technique that also preserves its rich flavour much better than drying.
Allow pepper to mature on plant until it is fully ripe and begins to wrinkle. Open and remove seeds, allow to dry in a dark place for a week or two, turning every few days for even drying.
The key to maintaining pepper seed viability is in how it is stored; you must keep a constant temperature and eliminate any excess moisture. Correctly stored peppers seeds can last for many years, although the germination rate begins to wane as time goes by.
Store seeds in a cool, dark, dry area in temps between 1 and 10°C (35 to 50°F). Store them in airtight plastic containers or in tightly sealed glass containers, just keep the seed dry and cool.
Lastly, be sure to clearly label your seeds. Most pepper seeds look remarkably similar and it is easy to forget by the time planting time arrives. Label not only the name and variety, but also the date you collected them.
The name Poblano is pronounced puh blah noe and translates to 'pepper from Pueblo', it is named after the city in central Mexico where these chiles were first cultivated. It also the word for an inhabitant of Puebla.
Poblanos have different names depending on the time they are harvested. 'Poblano' peppers are usually sold as green peppers. Once they ripen to read they are called 'Ancho'. When dried this pepper becomes a broad, flat, heart-shaped pod, it is often ground into a powder used for flavouring recipes. Ancho means 'wide' in Spanish.
They can also be found as 'Mulato' chiles, where they have been allowed to ripen longer turning a dark brown before being picked and dried. This additional ripening time adds to the flavour characteristics they are darker in colour, sweeter in flavour and softer in texture.
Occasionally they can be referred to as 'Mole' Poblano, which refers to their use in the spicy chocolate chili sauce originating in Puebla.
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.
While poblanos tend to have a mild flavour, occasionally and unpredictably a poblano can have significant heat. Different peppers from the same plant have been reported to vary substantially in heat intensity.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 20 Seeds Common Name Mild: 600 to 1,500 SHU. Other Common Names Chili, Chile or Chilli. Hot Pepper Family Solanaceae Genus Capsicum Species annuum Cultivar Poblano Synonym Known as Poblano when green and Ancho when ripened to red. Hardiness Tender Perennial often used as an Annual Height 75 to 90cm (30 to 36in) 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 90 -110 days to maturity.