My dad is a wonderful gardener. Each year, he starts his seeds around March. He plants them in little pots down in the basement, puts them under a grow light, carefully waters them, and tends to them as they sprout and grow. When the plants are big enough and the weather begins to warm up, he puts them outside in his homemade greenhouse just in case of frost. When Old Man Winter is no longer lurking, Dad carefully plants them in the ground. He has grown zucchini, many varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas, green peppers, banana hot peppers, lettuce, green beans, watermelon, and corn.
We live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which is considered Zone 6 in terms of hardiness. So, this limits us to certain kinds of fruits and vegetables, but nonetheless we enjoy a wide variety of produce.
For the past two years, my dad, has graciously set aside a portion of his garden to plant some Poblano peppers for me. Last year, he planted them in pots. But, when the July heat rolled around, the soil in the pots got too dry, and we think it stunted the growth of the plants. We got lots of peppers, but they were rather on the small side and didn’t seem to have a lot of flavor. My friend Dulce, who is from Mexico State, said that she also tried growing Poblanos one time, and they turned out particularly mild as well. Typically this plant is grown only in zones 9-12, but I would say we still had lots of success with them last year despite the soil dryness and slight shortfall in the flavor of the peppers.
This year, my dad switched the location of the Poblanos and planted them behind the house in an area that receives a good deal of sun. They are looking infinitely better, and the chiles are growing oh so nicely. I cannot wait to use them! We will see how these peppers taste in just a few short weeks.
So, what are chiles Poblanos? “Poblano” means from the state of Puebla (Mexico), where the chile is thought to originate. It is a dark green pepper that ranges in size from about 4-6” long and 2-3” wide. The plant itself can grow up to 3 feet tall. The peppers are usually ready to pick within 80 days from the time the plant is transplanted. When the Poblanos are left on the plant to ripen longer, they will turn from a dark green color to a reddish almost black color. The flavor of the Poblano can range from mild to a little bit spicy, but their heat is gentle in comparison to the more fiery serranos, jalapeños, or habaneros. The peppers are often roasted and peeled before use and are great for stuffing.
Poblanos can be used in any variety of dishes—chiles rellenos and chiles en nogada are two of the most popular Mexican dishes. I have also seen them used for green salsa, soup, quesadillas, and spaghetti. Have you ever tried chiles Poblanos or used them in a recipe?