Poblano pepper is a mild chile pepper native to Mexico. Particularly, from the state of Puebla, where the pepper was named after. It is best described as the middle point between the bell and jalapeño pepper. It can grow as much or even larger than a bell pepper. But, it is skinnier and has a pointy tip that resembles a jalapeño. Similarly, poblano also starts as dark green, the stage where it is commonly picked and sold, and eventually turns dark red or black as they mature. They are also closely related to the Mulato chile.
It offers a mild heat that ranges from 1,000 to 2,000 Scoville units. And like chipotle, dried poblano peppers are referred to as Ancho peppers. Regardless, this pepper has been, if not the most, one of the most popular peppers in Mexico since the beginning of time. In fact, it has been a staple ingredient in making salsas. Thus, it is also widely available in the United States, especially in the states near the Mexican border, such as Texas.
Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade)
Genus: Capsicum L. (Pepper)
Species: Capsicum Annuum L.
Binomial Name: Capsicum Annuum var. Annuum ‘Poblano’
Poblano Pepper Trivia
- Interestingly, poblano peppers are triangular, heart-shaped fruits.
- Poblano peppers are good to eat during pregnancy. It provides a lot of iron, which reduces the chances of underweight or premature newborns by 8.4%.
- Poblano peppers also help in treating lung ailments like COPD due to its manganese, zinc, and selenium content.
Poblano Pepper Buying Guide
- Poblano peppers can be easily found in supermarkets, farmers’ markets, and online shops, especially in the southwest United States.
- Choose poblano peppers based on its color. Though it is commonly sold as unripe or green in color, it provides more bitterness and less sweetness than the ripe or red ones.
- Check the size of the peppers and choose the ones that are 3 to 6 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide.
- Check out the pepper’s skin. Choose the ones that are thick-walled, firm, and glossy. Avoid the ones that have soft spots or shriveled.
- If possible, buy organic poblano peppers. Organic ones might not be as perfectly shaped as the conventional or GMO ones, but they’re sweeter and more nutritious. Not to mention that they’re kinder to the planet too.
- As always, peppers from farmers’ markets are better than the ones in stores. Here, the products are usually organic and you might be able to taste them before you buy them.
Poblano Pepper Production & Farming in Texas
Poblano pepper plants are tropical perennial. In Texas, they are commonly sowed indoors, roughly eight weeks before the last spring frost. These seeds need a lot of warmth to germinate properly, which is around 80-85ºF. Heat mats or grow lights might also be necessary to ensure ideal conditions. When the weather finally settles, the peppers can be transplanted outdoors. But, don’t rush on this process. These peppers can be temperamental when it comes to setting their fruits. Night temperatures outside the range of 60 to 75ºF can reduce the set of fruits. When choosing a location, place them in an area where they can get plenty of light and heat, and avoid the areas that have been used for tomatoes, potatoes, or other crops from the same family. Plant them on soil that is fertile, well-drained, lightweight, and has a pH level between 5.5 to 7.0. When the soil reached 50ºF, you can now place them into the ground. Unlike the other peppers, these plants should be relatively close to one another (1 to 2 feet apart) to promote a slight contact between the plants. It takes roughly 65 days for these peppers to mature and be ready for harvest, which is commonly done when they’re still green or unripe. Nevertheless, you can leave the peppers on the plant to ripen or turn red, especially if you’re planning to dry them. However, if you want to continue harvesting, it is best to pick them early for the plant to reproduce. Use a sharp shear when cutting branches and harvesting peppers as hand-picking can easily damage the plants.
Conventional or organically grown, fruits and vegetables are essential components of a healthy diet. However, many of these contain potentially harmful pesticides, even after thorough washing, peeling, or scrubbing. Thus, what we can only do is to be aware of which items are the most or least contaminated.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an American group that focuses on the advocacy of agricultural subsidies, pollutants, and toxic chemicals. They have created the Dirty Dozen List, which is being updated each year to rank fruits and vegetables that contain the highest pesticide contamination based on the samples tested by the USDA and FDA. However, this list doesn’t rank peppers. But, since they tested positive on pesticides that are known to be toxic to the brain, they’ve created their Dirty Dozen Plus™ list instead and included these peppers.
Between the years 2010 and 2012, the USDA found oxamyl, acephate, and chlorpyrifos in peppers. These toxic pesticides are banned from use on some crops. However, they’re still permitted to be used on chile peppers. Thus, it is better to buy organic peppers to reduce your pesticide consumption. If they’re unavailable or too expensive, we suggest you cook the conventional ones instead before eating them as heating these peppers can reduce the levels of pesticides. Or better yet, consider growing your own peppers organically.
Even though poblano peppers are native to Mexico, they are used and grown extensively even in the United States, especially in the southwestern regions. Generally speaking, China remains to be the world’s largest producer of sweet and chile peppers, accounting for more than 70% of world production. Mexico and Indonesia rank next. Other major producers include Spain, Turkey, and the United States.
Fresh poblano peppers are commonly sold and priced by weight, either by the pound or kilogram. But, if you’re planning to buy on wholesale, go to your nearest local producer, and you can get these peppers in bushels, cartons, and even crates. Meanwhile, you can also buy pickled, roasted, or other byproducts of poblanos that are packaged in glass jars, pouches, or containers.
Enjoying Poblano Peppers
Poblano peppers don’t have to be cooked for them to be enjoyed. They can be eaten raw, either straight off the plant or chopped into some salads or sandwiches. They’re milder than jalapeños but slightly hotter than other sweet chiles. So, if you’re looking for somewhere in between, poblano peppers are the perfect chiles for you.
All fresh peppers are best kept unwashed, in a sealable and airtight container lined with paper towels. They should be stored in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator, with a temperature that ranges between 40 and 45ºF. Properly stored, they will retain their freshness for a week or two. You may also marinate peppers in olive oil to extend its shelf life for up to 1 month. It’s also good to consider that peppers with thick skins last longer than the thin ones. And, whole peppers are more shelf-stable than the sliced ones. Meanwhile, you can also freeze fresh peppers. Spread them evenly, on a single layer in a sheet tray, and freeze. Once frozen, transfer the peppers onto freezer-safe bags. Here, it’ll last for up to 6 months but take note that frozen peppers can only be used in cooking. It’s not meant to be eaten raw as it requires further heat to kill the bacteria. But, to further retain its crispness, you can half-cook the peppers in oil prior to freezing. Fully cooked poblanos usually last 3-5 days, while pickled, roasted, or dried can last for 1 year in the fridge.
While poblano peppers can be eaten raw, their large shape and sturdy walls makes them ideal for stuffing – think of the yummy chiles Rellenos! They’re also best and commonly roasted and peeled to reveal their smoky flavor. Dry it the same way as jalapeños, and you have a mild, smoky, and flavorful ancho chilies. Use it as the main ingredient for hot sauces and they’ll go perfectly on enchiladas and moles.
Raw poblano pepper is composed of 93% water, 5% carbohydrates, >1% protein, and >1% fat by weight.
- Carbohydrates: This pepper is naturally low in calories, which are primarily composed of water and carbohydrates. However, these carbohydrates are mostly sugars, such as fructose and glucose, since they’re the ones that give these peppers their rich, sweet taste.
- Fiber: Like bell peppers, poblanos are also an excellent source of fiber. A cup of 100 grams can provide almost 2 g of fiber, which is 18% of the DV. Fiber makes you feel full faster without eating too much. It also helps maintain good bowel health.
- Vitamins and Minerals: Poblano peppers are also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. As a matter of fact, a cup serving gives 89% of RDI for vitamin C, 92% of DV for vitamin B6, 59% for vitamin B2, and 50% of vitamin A. They’re also a good source of potassium, calcium, and iron.
- Poblanos promote weight loss because of their high water and adequate fiber content. Thus, it is very low in calories and it’ll help you feel more satisfied and full after eating.
- The high levels of vitamin A promotes healthy vision. It also helps in preventing cancer too.
- The high levels of vitamin C acts as an antioxidant. It helps in boosting immunity and repairing cells, which retards the human aging process. It can also reduce the development of gout significantly.
- The insoluble fiber from poblanos prevents constipation and indigestion while the soluble fiber reduces blood cholesterol and controls the blood sugar.
- Although poblanos contain a relatively small amount of capsaicin, the compound that gives chiles their heat, they’ve been proven to kill cancer cells efficiently. It also boosts our immune system, helping our bodies fight against inflammation. It also contributes to weight loss as it speeds up our metabolism.
- The high levels of iron and vitamin B2 can also help in the circulation of blood. It helps prevent and treat anemia.
- The high levels of vitamin B6 reduces the development of rheumatoid arthritis. But if you already have one, poblano peppers can help control the pain.
When Are Poblano Peppers in Season in Texas?
To find out when Poblano Peppers are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.