The Q&A Archives: Pepper Pickin'

Question: When growing poblano/ancho peppers, when is the optimal time to harvest them for drying purposes? Should they be the dark green color, or should one wait, and leave them on the plant longer to dry? After they are harvested, how does one dry them properly?

Answer: Ancho peppers are mild, dark shiny green that ripen to reddish brown. They're tasty when eaten fresh, but remove the skin first. When they're dried, they're called Poblano peppers. There are several Ancho hybrids, each with its own distinctive flavor, and each maturing at different times. For instance, the standard ancho can be harvested 75 days after planting, Giant Ancho takes 70 days, Ancho Mulato 130 days, and Ancho Rojo in 58 days. For best flavor harvest when your peppers are fully ripe (reddish brown). If you don't use them fresh you can string them together and hang them to dry in a protected airy place. Or, lay them out on racks to air dry. Then store whole, or crumble them first before storing in a cool, dark location, in an air tight container. Dried peppers have a more intense flavor than fresh peppers so use sparingly at first until you find just the right amount to suit your taste.

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