What is a Poblano Pepper and how hot is it? Look for a new chili when you head down the production aisle: the poblano. Chefs who haven’t tried this beautiful dark green pepper may look uncertain. Is it hot like jalapenos?
What should I do with it? It is actually an interesting type of chili that you can use in many ways, fresh or cooked in recipes.
Britannica stocks that poblanos belong to the annual Capsicum family of peppers which includes sweet peppers, jalapenos, and hot peppers. According to Spruce Eats, the poblano pepper originated in Puebla, Mexico, a state southeast of Mexico City, and is very popular throughout that country.
Large, elongated peppers have a deep green, glossy surface. As with many peppers, green poblanos are actually immature; When the peppers are ripe they turn a vibrant red color.
What is a poblano pepper? How Hot Is it?
Poblanos may not get as much a sprinkled press as their painfully spicy cousins like ghost peppers and Carolina harvesters, but the size and flavor of poblanos in both fresh and dried forms make them so versatile in cooking. It’s a hot pepper worth knowing more about.
Are poblano peppers hot?
This is probably the most frequently asked question about poblano peppers, and it makes sense. The last thing you want is to inadvertently chomp on a chili. With poblanos, you can rest easy.
Chili seasoning is measured on the Scoville Heat Units (SHU) scale. SHUs can range in the millions for some of the world’s hottest peppers, and even go up to zero for sweet peppers.
Eats spruce places poblanos peppers in the 1,000 to 2,000 SHU range, which means they are on the moderate end of the spectrum. It’s slightly lighter than skinny Anaheim peppers and much less spicy than Serranos, which can contain up to 16,500 SHUs.
As for the flavor of the poblano peppers, Spruce Eats notes that the taste is similar to that of fresh green peppers, but a little more spice sets them apart. Fully ripe red pecans are spicier than green ones.
This low level of heat combined with the size of the poblanos means they are a popular choice for a variety of Latin American and Tex-Mex dishes as they are roasted, stuffed, or blended into sauces.
Poblano Peppers vs. jalapeños
Although poblanos and jalapenos are both green chili peppers, trying to substitute one for another won’t give you the same results in your recipe. According to Pepperscale, when you look at these peppers in the store, you’ll notice a difference in size and shape.
Jalapenos are between 2 and 3 inches long and have a smooth pointed shape. Poblano peppers are larger and have a dark green rind and an irregular surface. They are similar to regular green peppers except that the poblanos are more elongated with a pointed tip.
There is a big difference in spiciness between these two peppers. While poblanos max out at 2,000 Scoville Heat units (Pepperscale says on average, poblanos will have about 1,250 SHUs), jalapeños range from 2,500 to 8,000 SHUs. This means that jalapeños can be up to eight times hotter than poblano peppers.
Pepperscale also notes that peppers taste slightly different from each other, saying that the flavor of poblanos is more ‘earthy’, while jalapeños have a fresher and ‘brighter’ taste.
Both peppers will bring chili flavor and spice to your recipe, and both are great for a cheesy filling. However, substituting jalapeños for poblanos means your recipe will get a lot more heat than your guests might expect.
Poblanos have other names when dried
What is a poblano pepper? Do they have any different names? When chili peppers are dried, they develop a completely different taste, with sweet, earthy, and smoky flavors depending on how they are dried. Dried Peppers have all the heat of a fully ripe chili and may be hotter.
The compound capsaicin (which makes hot peppers hot) becomes more concentrated as the peppers dry out. For many peppers, the dried species also get different names. One of these is an ancho.
According to Mad Chili, ancho peppers are made by simmering poblano peppers until they are red. Then the pepper is completely dried, after which it becomes very dark red, wrinkled, and somewhat flat.
Anchos have the same level of heat as poblanos, between 1,000 and 2,000 Scoville calorie units, but with a ‘darker, earthy flavor’.
Mulatto pepper is another dried variety made from poblanos. Mad Chili says the distinction from anchos is that poblano peppers ripen past the bright red phase to a very dark reddish-brown color before drying.
Once dried, a mulatto pepper has the same appearance as an ancho, although it can be almost black. Because they are made from fully ripe poblanos, mulatto peppers are slightly hotter, at 2,500 to 3,000 Scoville units.
Anchos is one of the ‘holy trinity of dried chili peppers (with basilla, guajillo, and sometimes molatos), used to make traditional Mexican sauces.
Where to buy poblano peppers
Now you know what is a poblano pepper. But how to find them? The range of chilies available in the produce section will vary depending on your region: Stores in the Southwest are more likely to keep shelves stocked with chili than stores in other parts of the country.
However, Eats Spruce says that more and more grocery stores are adding poblanos to their year-round products. Look for poblanos in the same area as red and green peppers, often alongside baskets of jalapeños. You may find them loose to buy just what you need or in shrink-wrapped packages. Choose peppers that have a vibrant color and no soft or wilted spots.
In the summer, when peppers are in season, check farmers’ markets and vegetable stalls for locally grown poblano peppers, which likely taste better than commercially grown produce. If you have a little green thumb, you can try growing your own poblano peppers.
According to Bonnie Plants, poblano plants get taller, so you’ll need 3 or 4 feet of space in your garden, or a large planter if you want to try container gardening. With plenty of water and sun, you’ll have your poblano pepper harvest in about two and a half months.
If you are looking for dried ancho peppers, and eat spruce it is advised to check the aisles where Mexican and Spanish spices or foods are sold. Dried peppers are available from online sources as well.
Here’s How to Cook with Poblano peppers
Now that you know what they are, it’s time to get busy cooking with poblanos! Because pecans are large and not too spicy, they are excellent for stuffing with a variety of fillings such as meat and beans. Or stuff them with cheese and fry them well to make classic chile Rellenos.
There is another elaborate traditional dish often served during the holidays, which is Chiles en Nogada. Poblano peppers are stuffed with a spicy sauteed mixture of ground beef and fruits, then covered in a creamy sauce made of nuts and topped with pomegranate seeds.
You can also enjoy fresh poblanos, as in pico de gallo-style salsa. Another option would be to slice the pecans and stir them into guacamole, which can also be sprinkled on nachos or casseroles.
Epicurius suggested that pepper could be used to make an attractive chile sauce. The peppers are first roasted over the flame, to make them easier to peel and to add a smoky flavor. Then, it’s mixed with garlic, oil, and other flavorful ingredients to make a rich, flavorful green sauce on chicken. Raw or roasted, chopped or mashed, this chili is worth getting into your cart often!\