Drying Poblano Peppers (Tips & Tricks for Making Ancho Chile Peppers)

When you’ve harvested a bunch of peppers all at once, one of your best storage options is drying them!

Dried poblanos – aka ancho chile peppers – are common in Mexican cuisine. While you can buy them, making your anchos is a perfect way to use your poblano peppers. When drying your fresh peppers, you can: air dry them, use a food dehydrator, dry them on the counter, or dry them in the sun. Follow safety protocol when drying and storing your peppers.

Keep reading to learn all about different pepper drying techniques!

What is the best way to dry poblano peppers?

Drying poblano peppers is such a popular way to preserve your pepper harvest that the final product actually has its own name: ancho peppers.

While fresh poblano peppers are common in Mexican cuisine, arguably ancho peppers and ancho pepper powder are arguably even more popular. Poblano peppers have a nice deep flavor with a mild heat, but drying them brings a rich smokiness to the party.

For those of us growing poblano peppers, storing them through drying is an obvious choice. So how do you go about doing that?

The best ways to dry poblano peppers include:

  • Air drying
  • Food dehydrator
  • Dry them on the counter
  • Sun drying

Let’s talk about each method in detail.

Air drying

Air drying poblano peppers is an old-fashioned, time-tested, easy and effective technique.

Air drying poblano peppers is one of the simplest ways to dry them. You cut slits through the peppers near the stems and thread them together using a thin string. Finally, hang them up in a well-ventilated room. Your peppers will be dry in about four weeks!

Air-drying peppers is one of the most energy-efficient ways to dry them. While it will take more time than if you just threw them in a dehydrator, it’s cheaper and perhaps easier too!

First, cut a slit as close to the stem as you can. Now use a big needle and thread thin string through all the stems. 

After stringing all the peppers, hang them up in a well-ventilated room. Air circulation is vital to avoid excessive humidity which can ruin your peppers.

Air-drying peppers takes about four weeks.

Food dehydrator

Using a food dehydrator is the quickest way to dry poblano peppers.

Food dehydrators are a popular way to dry many vegetables, including peppers! All you need to do is clean them, cut them up, and pop them in the dehydrator. In a few hours, you’ll have fully dried peppers!

Drying peppers in a food dehydrator is pretty simple once you know how to do it!

Rinse and dry your peppers, cutting off the stems.

Cut your peppers how you desire, keeping in mind that smaller slices will take less time to dehydrate. 

Remove seeds if you want to decrease your poblanos’ SHU (or the spice level).

Use a temperature of 130°F until your peppers are brittle and tough.

Dry them on the counter

Wait, you can just lay your peppers out, and they’ll dry?

Believe it or not, you can dry your poblanos on the counter! You need low humidity and great ventilation in order for this to work. You don’t even have to cut your peppers since hot peppers can dry whole!

This tip will only work if you live somewhere with low humidity and have access to great ventilation, but if you fit the bill then this is a great option!

Spread your peppers out so they aren’t touching. You don’t have to cut them because hot peppers can naturally dry whole!

Sun drying

Sun-drying poblano peppers is a fun and effective way to dry your bounty.

You need temperatures that are at least 90°F for multiple days in a row, with humidity under the 60% mark. Pasteurizing your peppers after this method is important since they’ve been outside in the elements.

Sun drying poblano peppers is a fun project with very specific requirements.

The temperature needs to be at least 90°F for multiple days, and the humidity needs to be under 60%. 

Rinse your peppers to get rid of dirt. Then place them on screen trays, with cheesecloth on top to protect your peppers from insects and birds.

Pasteurize your peppers once they’ve dried by either:

  • Placing them in the freezer for two days or
  • Putting them in the oven at 160°F for half an hour

Can dried poblano peppers mold?

Now that you’ve dried your peppers, are they immune to mold?

Dried poblano peppers can mold if they are exposed to moisture. They can reabsorb it every time you open their containers or if they’re stored improperly. This is why proper storage is so important!

Dried poblano peppers can mold if they reabsorb moisture. This is why storing your peppers correctly is so important. More on that in a minute!

How do you dry poblano peppers so they don’t mold?

So what’s the solution?

To dry poblano peppers so they don’t mold, let them cool down completely. Then store them in cans, vacuum-sealed bags, freezer containers, or plastic freezer bags. The best way to prevent mold is to store your peppers in serving-sized containers so you’re not opening and closing your container over and over!

The first step to storing dry poblano peppers is to let them cool down completely. Any heat can encourage sweating, potentially releasing moisture which will cause mold.

Store your dried peppers in cans, vacuum-sealed bags, freezer containers, or in plastic freezer bags.

Another tip is to pack your peppers in multiple serving-size containers. Every time you open a container you expose it to moisture and air. Therefore, reopening your peppers all the time could cause issues – storing them in multiple containers can solve that problem!

How do you know when poblano peppers are dry enough?

One of the hardest parts of drying poblano peppers for the first time is deciding when they’re done drying.

Fully-dried poblano peppers will be tough and brittle.

If you’re planning on making ancho chile powder, you want to wait until the peppers are completely dry before grinding them into powder.

How long do dried poblano peppers last?

Drying peppers is the longest-term solution for storing poblano peppers.

Dried poblano peppers can last 1-2 years if stored properly.

This is, of course, dependent on keeping them stored in a cool, dry space.