Poblano peppers are one of the many chile varieties that are harvested before they are fully ripe. This makes it difficult to know when to pick poblano peppers for the perfect flavor and texture.
In this article, I’ll share some simple tips to know when to harvest poblanos. Thankfully, poblano peppers are edible at any stage of ripeness (though they will taste better when picked at the right time!).
When To Pick Poblano Peppers
Poblano peppers are unique because they’re harvested before they’re ripe. So, it can be tricky determining the perfect time to pick these peppers.
If you leave your peppers on the plant long enough, they will eventually turn red or brown. At this stage, it is important to harvest right away to avoid the peppers turning soft.
When to harvest:
- Wait for them to be fully grown. Poblano peppers are fairly large, so it is easy to know when they are full sized. Once the peppers have stopped growing larger, wait an additional 1-2 weeks before picking. The peppers should have a rich, dark green color and should be very firm.
- Check your seed packet. Most seed packets and websites will give an estimated “days to harvest” window. This is the number of days it should take for your peppers to be ready from the day you transplant them outdoors. Poblanos are typically ready to pick 65-75 days after transplanting.
- Allow to ripen for more sweetness. If you want more sweetness, nutrients, and color, wait for your poblanos to ripen fully. They will change color (usually to red or brown), and should be picked as soon as the change happens.
Once you harvest your poblano peppers, the plants will immediately begin producing another round of fruits. You should start to see new flower buds forming, paving the way for another crop.
My rule of thumb is to wait for poblanos to be full-sized, then pick them when I am ready to use them. I almost never wait for poblanos to change color, as I prefer the crunch and flavor of the unripe green pods.
Red Poblano Peppers
Since poblano peppers eventually turn red, you might end up with a few crimson poblanos. So, what can you do with your ripe fruits?
Red poblano peppers can be used the same way as green ones. The flavor will be noticeably sweeter, and the flesh will likely be softer. Heat level remains about the same (around 1,000 SHUs or less), but the increased sugar content tends to offset the spiciness a bit.
Unless you have a need for red poblanos, I suggest picking them a week or two before they change color for the best flavor and texture. However, the added sweetness can be useful in red sauces or even stuffed poblano peppers.
What To Do With Fresh Poblanos
Fresh poblano peppers have so many uses! Hopefully you have a plan for your chiles, but if not, here are a few ideas:
- Make stuffed poblanos. Stuffed poblano peppers (also called chiles rellenos) are essentially deep-fried poblanos full of cheese. Sounds delicious, right? Or, try other poblano recipes.
- Dehydrate them to make anchos. Did you know that “ancho” peppers are just dried poblanos? These are popular for making many Mexican sauces and dishes, and are easy to make at home. Sun-dried poblanos are the most flavorful, but you can also use a dehydrator.
- Roast them. Roasted poblanos are delicious. The charred skin and flesh adds a depth of flavor that the fresh peppers don’t offer. Fire-roasting on the grill is our preference, but you can also use the oven.
- Store them for later. There are a few easy ways of storing poblanos for later. If you just want to extend the shelf life of your fresh peppers, try freezing, drying, or even pickling your poblano peppers.
I hope this article helps you know exactly when to pick poblano peppers. As you harvest more of your own poblanos, you should get better and better at timing it just right.