By Dave DeWitt
Fiery Foods & BBQ Central Recommendations
Chile Pepper Bedding Plants… over 500 varieties from Cross Country Nurseries, shipping April to early June. Fresh pods ship September and early October. Go here
Chile Pepper Seeds… from all over the world from the Chile Pepper Institute. Go here
Photos by Harald Zoschke
This chile is a pod type of the annuum species. The name ancho means ‘wide,’ an allusion to the broad, flat, heart-shaped pods in the dried form. The fresh pod is called poblano (see above).
Anchos are multiple-stemmed and compact to semi-erect, semi-woody, and about 25 inches high. The leaves are dark green and shiny, approximately 4 inches long and 2 ½ inches wide, and the corollas are off-white and appear at every node. The flowering period begins 50 days after sowing and continues until the first frost. The pods are pendant, vary between 3 to 6 inches long, and 2 to 3 inches wide, are conical or truncated and have indented shoulders. Immature pods are dark green, maturing to either red or brown, and the dried pods are a very dark reddish-brown, nearly black. They are fairly mild, ranging from 1,000 to 1,500 Scoville Units.
This variety is one of the most popular peppers grown in Mexico, where about 37,000 acres of it are under cultivation. The ancho/poblano varieties grow well in the U.S. but only about 150 acres are planted. Growers in the eastern U.S. reported their plants grown in Wharton, New Jersey, topped four feet and needed to be staked to keep them from toppling over. These plants produced well, but the pods never matured to the red stage before the end of the growing season. The usual growing period is 100 to 120 days and the yield is about fifteen pods per plant, although there are reports of up to thirty pods per plant.
Fresh poblanos are roasted and peeled, then preserved by canning or freezing. They are often stuffed to make chiles rellenos. The dried pods can be stored in airtight containers for months, or they can be ground into a powder. Anchos are commonly used in sauces called moles.