Ancho Chilli Pepper
Aroma - Burnt caramel, Dark cherry, smokey
Taste - Dark Berry/raisin, Building Heat, Complex Sweetness
Origin and Names
The Ancho Chilli is the dried form of the Mexican Poblano, a chilli native to the central Mexican state Puebla for which it is named. It is believed to have been first cultivated in the city of Cholula, the oldest continuously inhabited city in Mexico, by the indigenous Olmec civilization. When dried the pepper takes on a shiny black appearance and becomes broad and flattened, leading to the name Chile Ancho which in Spanish means “Wide Chilli”. Like with many chillis it is a cultivar of the species Capsicum Anuum, a widely grown and varied crop. Today it is the most commonly used dried chilli in mexican cuisine.
Geography and Cultivation
The natural habitat of the Poblano chilli is the mountainous regions of central Mexico, where historic eruptions of the nearby volcanoes have created a rich and fertile soil. The plant averages 2 feet in height and produces robust fruit with a deep divot around the stem. The chilli ripens from a dark green into a rich deep red which can almost appear black. When green the chilli has a milder flavour and less intense heat, this heat increases as the fruit ripens to dark red. The black dried ancho retains moisture resulting in a chewier texture than other dried peppers. Typically ancho can be purchased as whole dried peppers or as ground flakes.
At Hill & Vale we source our Ancho Chillis from the northern state of Zacatecas and grind them in house for use in our mixes.
Food and Medicinal Values
Ancho chillis have become a staple ingredient across Mexican and South American cuisine, due to their mild flavour and widespread production. Both poblano and ancho are a common ingredient in the traditional Mexican mole sauces, which combined with chocolate create a rich and warming meal. Like other chillis, ancho and poblano contain high levels of vitamin C, more by weight than citrus fruits, because of this they have been an important part of maintaining a nutritious diet across central America. Ancho has a lower heat rating than other commonly cultivated chillis such as cayenne or habanero, reaching roughly 2000 scovilles. This milder heat means it is commonly used to add it’s rich smoky sweetness to a dish rather than increasing the spiciness.