A poblano pepper is a chili pepper cultivar native to the Mexican state of Puebla. This pepper is a common feature in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine. Many grocery stores carry poblanos if they feature several varieties of pepper, and they can also be special ordered in dried form from companies which specialize in traditional Mexican foods. There are a number of ways in which the poblano pepper can be used in cooking, and use of this pepper is not restricted to Mexican foods.
These peppers are mild in flavor, and are typically used when they are dark green. As they ripen further, they will turn red, eventually developing a red so dark that it almost appears black. The skin of the poblano pepper is also unusually thick, with many cooks peeling it before using the peppers in recipes. One classic use of the poblano pepper is in stuffed pepper dishes, as it is large enough to work well as a stuffed pepper and durable enough to hold up through stuffing and cooking.
When poblano peppers are dried, they are known as ancho chilies. Ancho chilies are dark black, heavily wrinkled, and heart-shaped. They have a more intense flavor, and are sometimes specifically called for in various Mexican dishes. Dried poblano peppers are available in many Mexican grocery stores, and larger supermarkets with a selection of common Mexican ingredients often carry the dried chilies as well.
In addition to being available fresh and dried, poblano peppers can also be purchased canned. Canned poblano peppers are usually peeled, so they are ready to use, and they may be canned whole or in pieces, so it's important to check the label on the can if whole peppers are needed. As long as the can is sealed, the peppers will keep for an extended period of time at room temperature. After the can is opened, the peppers will need to be refrigerated and used quickly.
It is possible to grow poblano pepper plants at home. They can be grown outdoors in USDA zones 10-12, or indoors in a greenhouse or warm spot in the house. Poblano peppers like lots of light, and they do not appreciate being overwatered. Good practice is to water the peppers in the morning if they look dry, taking care to avoid splashing the leaves, flowers, or fruits. As the peppers ripen, they can be harvested and used; seeds can be saved to grow more peppers in the following year.