Growing food

When and How to Pick Poblano Peppers (Explained)

If you’re growing poblano peppers for the first time, you might not know exactly when they’re ready to be picked and how you should pick them.

Poblano peppers should be picked when they’re around 4 to 6 inches long and are a dark green color. But, if you want a pepper with a little more heat or you want to dry them, you should wait until they turn red before picking them. Use a pair of garden scissors or shears to cut the pepper stalks from the plant.

This means that the best time to pick your poblano peppers depends on what you want to use them for. Let’s look at this in more detail.

Picking tour Poblano Peppers when they’re Dark Green

If you plan to use your poblano peppers fresh or in your cooking, you should pick them when they’re a dark green color. This usually happens around 65 days after they have been planted.

The peppers should be around 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) in length and have nice glossy green skin. At this stage, your poblano peppers will be immature but just right for picking so that you can use them fresh in the various Mexican dishes that you like to prepare.

They will have a slightly milder flavor and less heat than poblanos that have turned red.

Picking your peppers at this stage also means that the plant will put more energy into continually producing new peppers right throughout the growing season. This means that you’ll have a continuous supply of lovely fresh poblano peppers.

How to Pick Green Poblano Peppers

When it comes to picking your green poblano peppers, it’s a good idea to use a sharp pair of kitchen scissors or secateurs to cut them off the plant. If you just pull them off by hand, you run the risk of damaging the plant or breaking some of the stems.

Cut the stem around one-quarter of an inch above the pepper itself. Be careful when you do this so that you don’t accidentally knock off any of the other peppers.

Picking your Poblano Peppers when they’re Yellow or Orange

If you’ve left some of the green poblano peppers on the plant to mature further, these will start to turn yellow and then orange. You can still pick them at this stage and use them in the same way that you would use the green peppers.

The peppers will be around 4 to 6 inches long, and their skins will have a lovely glossy sheen.

How to Pick Yellow or Orange Poblano Peppers

Once again, you should use a pair of sharp scissors or secateurs to cut the stems of the peppers off the main plant. This avoids damage to the main stem and allows the plant to continue to produce more peppers.

Picking your Poblano Peppers once they’ve Turned Red

If you want to dry your poblano peppers, you should leave them on the plant until they turn red. Once this color change happens, the peppers will start to display slightly wrinkled skin.

When you see this change, these red peppers are ready to be harvested and dried. The dried peppers are now referred to as ancho chilies. They will have a little more heat and a more intense flavor than the green, yellow, or orange poblano peppers.

How to Pick Red Poblano Peppers

Harvesting red poblano peppers is the same as harvesting green, yellow or orange ones. Always use a pair of kitchen scissors or garden shears to snip the peppers off the main plant.

How to Dry Red Poblano Peppers

Red poblano peppers can be dried in a couple of different ways.

  • The traditional way to dry red poblano peppers is to string them together and then hang them in a warm, dry spot for around a month. Once they are fully dry, you can store them in your pantry or grind them up to make chili powder. You can also reconstitute them in hot water just before you want to use them. This is usually done when you want to use them to create different Mexican sauces.
  • A faster way to dry your red poblano peppers is by using a food dehydrator. Set the temperature of the dehydrator to around 130 degrees Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius) and dry them for around 12 hours. You can then either store them in the pantry or grind them up to make chili powder.

Picking Poblano Peppers once they’ve Turned Brown

If you happen to leave any red poblano peppers on the plant, they will eventually turn brown and quite wrinkled. At this stage, your poblano peppers are fully mature and ripe. But don’t discard these because you can dry them to make mulato peppers. Mulato peppers are a dried version of the fully mature poblano pepper.

These are commonly used in many Mexican dishes, just as ancho peppers are. They have a distinct rich chocolaty flavor and are great for making Mexican sauces.

How to Pick Brown Poblano Peppers

Pick these brown poblano peppers exactly the same as you would pick red poblano peppers. However, handle them carefully as they will be softer and more easily bruised than other stages of the poblano peppers.

You can then dry these peppers in the same way that you would dry red poblano peppers. When dried, these can also be ground into chili powder and will add an extra flavor dimension to your Mexican cooking.

Are Red Poblano Peppers Hotter than Green Poblano Peppers?

In general, poblano peppers are quite mild, especially when compared to jalapenos. However, they do have a little heat, and you’ll find that red poblanos will be just a little hotter than green ones.

They are the perfect pepper to use if you don’t like your dishes too spicy but still want them to have a little kick.

Will Poblano Peppers continue to Ripen Once they’re Picked?

If you pick your poblano peppers and store them at room temperature, they will continue to ripen and change color. However, you should check them regularly to ensure that they don’t spoil.

As a general rule, it’s far better to pick your peppers just before you want to use them and in the right color that you’re after. If they’re left on the plant to mature further, there’s no chance of them getting spoiled.

How Many Peppers should I expect my Plant to Produce?

How many peppers your plant produces depends entirely on the size of the plant itself and whether it is growing outside in the garden or in a pot.

Typically, pot-grown poblano pepper plants will reach a height of around 2 feet (61 cm). These plants can expect to produce around 20 to 40 chilies during their growing season.

However, if you are growing a poblano pepper plant outside in the garden and live in an area that has a relatively mild climate, a mature plant can reach a height of around 5 feet (152 cm). At this stage, you could expect such a large plant to produce more than 145 peppers in just one growing season.

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