Think of the Cubanelle like a sweeter, more flavourful bell pepper, and you’ll understand why these peppers are so popular. Where the bell pepper has thick walls, which makes them great for stuffing, the cubanelle, with its thin walls are really ideal for the frying pan. While stuffing is a possibility, fried with a little olive oil, the cubanelle’s mild sweet taste really comes to life.
Sweet and mild, it is perhaps best thought of as providing 'taste' rather than 'heat', the Cubanelle is commonly used in Latin, Italian, and Slavic cuisines and is also known as 'Sweet Cubanelle', 'Cuban pepper' or 'Italian Frying Pepper'.
In the garden, in addition to their famed taste and colours, the Cubanelle peppers are also known for their unique, imperfectly curled, wrinkled, and twisted shapes--no two seem to ever be alike.
The plants are very prolific, and mature quickly in 65 to 70 days. The colour changes from green to red when the peppers are fully mature. A great addition to your garden for a sweet early producer.
This 15cm (6in) pepper is prized for its sweet, mild flesh, rich flavour, and pretty colours. It is a thin-walled pepper with a low water content so is especially suited for quick cooking. They are best picked when yellow-green for use in roasting, stuffing, as a pizza topping, for frying or in a yellow mole sauce, and are one of the traditional ingredients in sofrito. They can also be left to mature and harvested when bright orange-red.
Cubanelle peppers have a mild flavour that makes them excellent for eating raw or cooking. Their thin skin also means that you don’t have to worry about peeling them before eating them – just cut off the tops and enjoy.
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.
Even though the cubanelle means 'little Cuba', the pepper has Italian roots. It has become extremely popular, though, in Cuba, along with Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic over time. In terms of exporting, the Dominican Republic is the current major producer.
Most likely, this sweet pepper first grew in Central America, where it still has a place in many markets and gardens. They are often used as a substitute for Anaheim peppers in Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Dominican cuisine. The Dominican Republic grows and exports the greatest number of Cubanelle peppers.
Italian Frying Peppers:
Italian Frying peppers are a variety of Capsicum annuum. Unlike some peppers that are unpleasantly bitter and acrid when unripe, the Italian Frying peppers are sweet and delicious in all stages of ripeness, whether green, yellow or red.
They are typically mild with a low level of heat, the Scoville units being only between 500 and 1,000. They can be eaten raw or cooked and are often used in salsa, stews, and rice dishes.
- Cubanelle peppers boast a fantastic pepper flavour without being 'hot' and are typically used in dishes where a little bit of spice is desired but not overwhelming heat.
- Poblano peppers are a good substitute for Cubanelle peppers because they have a similar flavour profile but with a bit more of a kick.
- If you're looking for a completely mild pepper to use as a substitute for Cubanelle, then look no further than the Marconi or the Corno di Toro pepper. These traditional Italian varieties are sweet and crunchy, making them a great addition to any dish.
- Cherry peppers are another good option for those looking for a moderate amount of heat in their Cubanelle pepper replacement. Cherry peppers are slightly sweeter than most other types of chili peppers, but they still pack a decent amount of heat.
- Banana peppers are another type of chili pepper that falls somewhere in the middle in terms of heat. They have a sweetness to them that is similar to bell peppers, but they also have a bit of spice that makes them a good stand-in for Cubanelle peppers.
- The final mild pepper on our list is the Anaheim pepper. Anaheims are typically used in Mexican cuisine, so if you're looking for an authentic Mexican flavour then this is the pepper for you. They have a similar sweetness to cherry and banana peppers but with a bit more heat.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 300mg Average Seed Count 25 Seeds Common Name Mild: 500 to 1,000 SHU.
Italian Frying Pepper. Heritage
Other Common Names Sweet Cubanelle or Cuban pepper Family Solanaceae Genus Capsicum Species annuum Cultivar Cubanelle Hardiness Tender Perennial often used as an Annual Fruit 15cm (6in) long and 5cm (2in) wide Height 60 to 75cm (24 to 30in) Spread 45cm (18in) Spacing 45 to 60cm (18 to 24in) 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 Germination 10 to 21 days at 24 to 28°C (75 to 82°F) Time to Harvest 75 to 80 days