Whether you love fiery foods or simply want to try your hand at preparing some of your favorite Mexican dishes at home, then you’re making the right choice to incorporate the delicious Ancho pepper!
Besides being a staple in many different Mexican dishes, the Ancho pepper is known for its subtly sweet yet smoky flavor that is able to complement a variety of different ingredients. Below, we’re going to be taking a closer look at this popular pepper – read on!
What Is The Ancho Pepper?
Essentially, Ancho peppers (which are also sometimes called Ancho chiles or just anchos) are a type of poblano pepper that has been allowed to dry out.
For the most part, almost all poblano peppers are deep green in color, and this is a clear indication that they are unripe. However, in order to make ancho, the unripened peppers are given the time to ripen for a longer period of time so that they can ripen to a rich red.
Once the poblano peppers have been given all the time that they need to turn red in color, they can then be picked and allowed to dry so that they can become anchos.
As a side note, it is widely considered that the best and most delicious ancho peppers are left out in the sun to dry, although they can also be dried in an oven.
How To Choose And Store Ancho Peppers
If you’re already familiar with Ancho peppers, then we’re sure that you’ll be well aware that they are relatively large peppers that are often bigger than other types of common peppers – such as Bell peppers and Cubanelle peppers.
So much so that if you weren’t already aware, the word “Ancho” actually means “wide” in Mexican, and the reason that they are called this is that they are one of the largest and widest of all pepper varieties.
For the most part, Ancho peppers typically tend to be around 2.5 inches in width and around 3-4 inches long, although do keep in mind that these measurements can sometimes vary depending on a variety of different factors.
As one of the most popular kinds of dried peppers in the world, if you’re planning on purchasing some yourself, you’ll want to make sure that you are picking the very best kind that you can get your hands on.
So, while you are out shopping and on the hunt for the perfect Ancho peppers, we strongly recommend that you only opt for the Ancho peppers that have soft textures with a “springy” feel that still feels pliable.
This is a clear indication that the Ancho peppers are optimally ripe and fresh, and will offer the best flavor profile ideal for complementing a variety of different dishes.
On the other hand, we recommend that you avoid opting for Ancho peppers that appear to be a little brittle or nearing a brown color, as these two signs are clear indications that the Ancho peppers have passed their prime, and are starting to go off.
They will still be edible, although they will more than likely have a bitter taste and a very chewy texture.
In addition to all of the above, if you are planning on shopping around for some Ancho peppers and you want to make sure that you are buying the most delicious Ancho peppers possible, we also recommend that you make sure to only ever choose peppers that do not appear broken or damaged, as this could mean that they have not been properly maintained and cared for by the seller.
As for storage? One of the best parts about Ancho peppers (or any dried peppers, for that matter) is that they can be easily stored inside a kitchen cupboard or a pantry for upwards of one year!
Although, if you are planning on keeping your Ancho peppers stored inside your kitchen cupboard, you will need to make sure that they are located in a dry place that is out of direct sunlight, otherwise you’ll likely find that the Ancho peppers become brittle.
Alternatively, if you do not wish to store your Ancho peppers in your kitchen cupboard or pantry, then you could even opt to keep them stored safely inside your fridge or freezer.
Besides helping to increase the overall shelf life of your peppers, you will also help to preserve the flavor.
Are Ancho Peppers Very Hot?
Even though they might look relatively hot, you might be interested to learn that Ancho peppers are not overly hot peppers, and are in fact far milder than other types of popular peppers, such as jalapeno peppers.
The main reason for this is due to the fact that Ancho peppers are dried out, which allows them to become sweeter in flavor as they ripen in the sunlight.
How Do You Eat Ancho Peppers?
Even though Ancho peppers can be eaten in any way that you see fit, they are most commonly used in order to make a variety of different sauces and pureed foods, such as to make enchilada sauce.
Anchi peppers can also be eaten as they are as a tasty snack, chopped up into salads and pasta, or served as a side alongside a meat dish.
Are There Any Ancho Pepper Alternatives?
As Ancho peppers have a unique flavor that is composed of smoky and sweet elements enhanced by just a touch of heat, it means that Ancho peppers can be pretty tricky to substitute.
However, if you don’t have any Ancho peppers to hand and need to find an alternative, then a great substitute that you could use in place of your usual Ancho peppers are guajillo peppers and mulato peppers. You could even use powdered Ancho pepper seasoning if need be.