What Is A Pasilla Pepper?
Pasillas are hot red peppers from Mexico that have been used throughout history. They come in many colors including yellow, orange, green, purple and even black. These peppers are considered one of the hottest varieties available today! They can reach up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 Celsius) and are often served with salsa or guacamole.
The word “paprika” comes from the Spanish word “pasillo”, which means paprika. The first recorded use of the term was in 1559 when it referred to a type of spice made from the dried seeds of a plant called Papaver somniferum.
However, they were not known as pepitas until 1836 when William Soper published his book Pescatore della Pasilla .
. The name “paprika” is derived from the Latin word “parriginus”, which means pepper. The earliest reference to the word being applied to any kind of chili appears in 1783 when it was used to refer to a variety of hot pepper known as Capsicum annuum, commonly known as the New Mexican chile.
How Do You Grow Pasilla Peppers?
Pasilla peppers are the dried form of the chilaca pepper. They are one of the hottest peppers in the world. They measure around 2 on the Scoville scale with habaneros at around 200,000 and scotch bonnets at around 90,000. They grow on small bushes, which can reach 3 feet tall, depending on growing conditions and have a bushiness similar to that of a rose bush. They are popular in Mexican, Spanish and Southwestern American cooking.
Pasilla Pepper Features
Also known as: Chile Negro, Relleno, Mexicana, Negro, Long Thick, Chili Tepinapa
Pasilla peppers are long, thin and wrinkly and usually measure between 3 to 7.5 centimeters in length and about half that in diameter.
They start out green and turn a deep chocolate brown when fully ripe.
These peppers are an essential ingredient in the Northern Mexican dish known as Chichilo as well as many other kinds of stews and bean dishes. They are also popular in both fresh and dried form (when they turn a reddish brown) when making homemade chili powders and rubs.
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When fully mature, the seeds inside resemble dark brown pumpkin seeds. They have a very tough leathery shell and require a lot of effort to crack open.
The flavor is somewhat similar to that of a sun-dried tomato.
Pasilla peppers start out green and unlike most other peppers, do not change color as they ripen. They get thinner and thinner as they mature until they are very thin and slightly wrinkly.
They can grow to over 7.5 centimeters (3 inches) in length!
These are among the most popular varieties of chili peppers in Mexico and are used both fresh and dried in a variety of dishes. The dried version is often crushed and added to sauces and stews while the fresh ones are commonly stuffed with cheese or meat then fried, boiled or baked.
How Much Do They Cost?
These pepper are not usually available in regular grocery stores but rather specialty food markets that carry Latin American products. You can, however, find them online.
If you are growing these peppers yourself, you should be able to get a couple of crops (depending on weather conditions) out of your plants before they become unproductive. Just one plant is capable of producing 12 to 16 peppers!
How Easy Are They To Grow?
These are rather easy to grow, just like the jalapeno pepper plant, only these will take a little longer (3 months) to mature.
Make sure you plant them in soil that is well-drained and has a pH level of 5.5 to 7.5 (slightly on the acidic side).
These are very resilient plants and will even thrive in poor soil conditions so as long as you are providing them with the correct nutrients they should grow quite well.
They do best when watered regularly and prefer a bit of humidity in the air so if you can, plant them near your morning glory or sweet peas which love moisture and humidity.
How To Grow From Seed
Start the seeds indoors 6 to 7 weeks before your last average frost date. Plant the seeds 1 inch deep and keep the soil moist but not water-logged.
Transplant them into individual pots when they have at least 2 true leaves (these will be the largest leaves than the seed leaves when it first comes out of the ground). Make sure the seed leaves are not touching each other (room for growth) and sit them in a warm area that gets sun for at least a few hours in the day.
When the temperatures are warm outside, they can be planted directly into the ground (still sit them in a warm area).
Pasilla Pepper Plant Care
Pasilla plants require very little care. They do best in rich soil that is well drained and does not stay soggy.
Keep the soil moist but not wet and water regularly (they can even handle short periods of drought) and fertilize regularly (seeds, bloom, fruit and vegetable food).
Along with enough sunlight, these are pretty much carefree once they get going. If you are growing them in pots, make sure you use a large enough one so they can grow healthy roots.
Pasilla plants are susceptible to the same pests as other plants are (pillbugs, cutworms, aphids, whitefly, thrip, and spidermites). Careful monitoring and controlling them will result in a healthy plant.
If you have not done so already, you need to situate your plants in a area that gets sun for at least a few hours a day. They will need this warmth in order to thrive.
Harvesting Your Pasilla Peppers
Your plants should be ready to harvest about 3 months after you first transplanted them outside (if you started them inside first). The peppers will turn from a dark green to a dark brown to almost black color when they are ready.
You should be able to just pull the peppers right off the plant without any assistance. Make sure you wear gloves when handling them as they can burn exposed skin.
The hotter the weather, the less time it takes for them to mature.
Once you have harvested all you want, cut off entire stem and place them in a paper bag to dry out thoroughly (usually takes a couple of days). After they are completely dry, you can either cut the stem off and place them in a sealed jar (light-tight) or leave them whole and place them in a sealed jar.
The dried peppers will stay fresh for 1 to 2 years this way. You can use these to make all kinds of hot sauces, paprika, seasoning blends, or just eat them like candy (they are pretty tasty).
These are very hot peppers (only about 100 times hotter than a jalapeno), so be very careful when handling them and do not touch your eyes or any other sensitive parts of your body once you have handled the peppers. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling as well.
If you wear contact lenses, you should take particular care when handling the peppers (especially the fresh ones). The oils in the peppers can burn the skin around your eyes and also the lenses themselves.
Take the same precautions listed above if you have any concerns (especially if you wear extended wear lenses).
You can find other bird-friendly seed varieties (that are not hot peppers) here.
These plants do very well in containers. Just make sure that they have enough room to grow and keep them well watered.
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Sources & references used in this article:
Differential responses of Chiltepin (Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum) and Poblano (Capsicum annuum var. annuum) hot peppers to salinity at the plantlet stage by R López-Aguilar, D Medina-Hernández… – African Journal of …, 2012 – academicjournals.org
The complete chile pepper book: A gardener’s guide to choosing, growing, preserving, and cooking by D DeWitt, PW Bosland – 2009 – books.google.com
The pepper lady’s pocket pepper primer by J Andrews – 2010 – books.google.com