Mulato Isleno is a wonderful mild pepper, closely related to the poblano, perhaps a little slightly larger and sweeter, it is characterised by large, heart-shaped fruit measuring 8cm (3in) wide and 15cm (6in) long. Wide at the top and tapering to a blunt point, the fruit start a dark green and mature to a rich chocolate brown and is sometimes called the Chocolate Poblano.
Described as tasting somewhat like chocolate or liquorice, with undertones of cherry and tobacco, the Mulato has a heat rating is 1,000 to 1,500 on the Scoville scale. The flavour is rich and complex, especially when the fruit are cooked.
The plants are big and sturdy and should be grown in the ground, though very large pots will do in a pinch. Growing to 90cm (3ft) tall, both the main stem and the branches must be given strong support, or they will snap under the weight of the fruit. The peppers take around 90 to 120 days to maturity.
Mulatos are one of the chillies that define Mexican cooking and the dried Mulato is an essential ingredient in authentic mole sauce.
They can be used in both the immature and mature stage and uses include making salsa, roasting, and drying. Wonderful roasted and great in stews, they are also terrific stuffed with meat or cheese to make the quintessential Mexican dish, chiles rellenos. A real gourmet chilli.
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 for germinating pepper seeds is usually 18 to 20°C (65 to 68°F) and usually take 7 to 21 days, however, varieties such as this need at least 22 to 24°C (72 to 76°F) and can often take longer to germinate in cooler conditions.
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 90 to 110 days
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. Use scissors to snip the fruits so you don't damage the plant.
After being roasted and peeled, Poblanos can be preserved by either canning or freezing. Storing poblanos in airtight containers will suffice for several months.
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 Mulato’s 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
Average Seed Count 20 seeds Common Name Mild: 1,000 to 1,500 SHU. Other Common Names The Chocolate Poblano. Family Solanaceae Genus Capsicum Species annum Cultivar Mulato Isleno Synonym Closely related to the Poblano Hardiness Tender Perennial often used as an Annual Height 75 to 90cm (30 to 36in) Spacing 30 to 45cm (12 to 18in) 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 -120 days to maturity.