Cubanelle Pepper: Growing Tips, Recipes, and Substitutes

Those who love to have Cuban, Dominican, or Puerto Rican cuisines must be familiar with Cubanelle Pepper as it is a common ingredient in those foods.

Also known as Italian frying peppers, this pepper often shows up in many other cuisines as well.

You can easily find them used for stuffing a huge variety of ingredients including chicken, turkey, and sausage.

The good news is that you can consider growing this pepper in your garden for easy-to-grab options. Remember to try some of its popular recipes once harvesting the produce.


A Brief Introduction to Cubanelle Pepper

Cubanelle is considered a sweet pepper, although its heat can range from mild to very moderate.
Cubanelle Pepper

Compared to jalapeno and habanero, this yellow-green to red pepper fruit is pretty mild and not too spicy with its 500 to 1,000 Scoville units.

Unlike bell peppers, the cubanelle has much slenderer walls, making it favorable for quick cooking.

Nowadays, this pepper is getting more popular due to its rich taste and nice colors for complementing any recipe. The fruit size is around five inches long and has gentle flesh.

When growing in the garden, you can expect this pepper to be a unique addition to your plants with its imperfect shapes and color changes.

This pepper plant will showcase green or yellow to shades of orange and red as it grows.

You do not need to be surprised when some of the peppers twist and curl slightly since this flaw can be part of their charm.

How to Grow Cubanelle Pepper Plant in Your Garden

Growing cubanelles is a lot like growing bell peppers. The seeds should only be sown in the ground in climates with very long growing seasons. For most gardeners, the seeds should be started indoors 4-5 weeks before the average last frost and only planted out after all chance of frost has passed.
Cubanelle Plant

You can expect to gain a quick result when growing this pepper in your garden since it typically matures between 62 and 65 days.

Considering that it is a hot-weather crop, you should never expose it to a light frost of -2 to 0 degrees Celsius as the cold can damage the plants.

Temperature below 11 degrees Celsius may result in slow growth and cause the leaves of this pepper plant to appear yellowish.

In case an unexpected late spring frost happens, you should shield newly planted seedlings of Cubanelle pepper plants with a cold blanket as soon as possible.

Aside from the above frost-fighting plan, you may refer to the following information to cultivate this pepper plant properly in your garden.

  • Light, Planting, and Soil Requirements

Peppers need well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Amend soil with 3 to 5 inches of compost or other organic matter prior to planting. Soil pH should be 6.2 to 7.0.
Cubanelle Soil Requirement

To grow properly, you need to provide this pepper nutrient-rich soil that drains well. Then, the pH of the potting mix should be between 6.2 and 7.0.

Before planting, make sure to change the soil with three to five inches of compost or any kind of organic matter for the best result.

As a hot-weather crop, this pepper plant will do best in full sun. Thus, find an outdoor area where it can receive nice exposure to sunlight all day.

Depending on the type of cubanelle pepper, you can space them 12 to 48 inches apart when planting. Consider checking the detailed information of each variety for the most accurate requirement.

  • Water Requirements and the Common Issues

Cubanelle pepper plants require regular moisture for healthy growth, especially when the fruit is setting and growing. Water to a depth of at least 6 inches, keep the soil moist through regular irrigation and don't allow the soil to completely dry out.
Ripe Pepper

During the growing season, you have to maintain the soil constantly soggy. Do not forget to mulch it to decrease water evaporation.

This pepper plant typically sheds its blossoms when the daytime temperature soars above 32 degrees Celsius.

Humid conditions, particularly in a garden with heavy soil that does not drain properly, may promote fungal diseases including leaf-spot.

Thus, you should make sure to keep it checked to prevent any unwanted problems.

Several pests may attack the cubanelle pepper plants as well. However, you should keep an eye out for pill bugs, slugs, leafminers, and aphids.

  • Harvesting and Storage Tips

The peppers are usually picked before they ripen, when they are light green or a yellow-green color, but when ripe, they turn bright red to orange-red. The pods grow to 4-6 inches long, 2 inches wide, and are banana-shaped, tapering near the bottom. The skin should be glossy, and the pepper should be smooth and firm.
Ripe Cubanelle

While the pepper typically matures around two months of cultivating process, you should know the exact appearance of the mature fruit to harvest it.

Some peppers will turn yellow, red, or other colors at maturity. Other varieties can be ready in the green stage.

However, they tend to become red if you leave them on plants.

You should never pull the peppers by hand when harvesting since this can make the whole branches break off.

Instead, you can utilize a sharp knife or pruning shears to cut the cubanelle pepper with a little stem stub attached.

By keeping the stem, you can enjoy the fruits fresh a little longer. Remember that removing this part may result in an open wound that makes the pepper ripe for spoiling.

Use a loosely closed plastic bag and store the peppers unwashed in the fridge. If you want to wash them, make sure to dry them first before storing them.

If you want to enjoy the best nutrition and flavor, use the peppers within a week. Do not forget to keep them away from constant moisture since they can hasten to spoil.

Cubanelle Pepper Recipes You Should Try at Home

Common uses for Cubanelles include salads, casseroles, or a yellow mole sauce. They are great on subs or pizza as well, and they can be stuffed with your favorite delicious filling. You can use them in general cooking, using them as you would any bell types, for example, as part of a mirepoix.
Cubanelle Dish Recipes

After harvesting your cubanelle plant, you should try some of the best recipes for this sweet pepper. For a vegetarian, the following hearty cuisine is probably of interest.

This spicy vegetarian stuffed pepper is easy to freeze and makes a great dish for your diet. It includes Mexican rice that is very nice and delicious.

To make this dish, you need to core out the cubanelle pepper first and blanch them in boiling water to make them softer.

The blanching process is optional, so you can choose whether to do it or not. However, it is sometimes nicer when the peppers are softer.

After that, you can prepare the rice by cooking it down with peppers, onion, garlic, and a bit of olive oil. Stir and wait until it gets slightly brown.

Add in some peas, corn, and seasonings along with veggie broth and a can of roasted tomatoes. Let the mixture boil and simmer it until the rice is fluffy.

Next, you should mix up the prepared rice with shredded cheese and stuff your cubanelle peppers with it. Then, bake them for around 30 to 40 minutes.

You can also prepare the hot sauce to complement the stuffed cubanelle peppers. Choose any sauce you like that goes well with the dish.

Additionally, the cubanelle pepper will make a great ingredient for other recipes including fiesta Moroccan couscous with chickpeas, egg casserole, and Chinese beef in black bean sauce.

Cubanelle Pepper Nutrition You May Expect

They are excellent sources of vitamin C and vitamin A (through its concentration of carotenoids such as beta-carotene), two very powerful antioxidants. Vitamin B6 and folate, important for heart health, and an assortment of important minerals are also high in bell peppers.
Cubanelle Nutrition

Consuming any meal with this pepper can give you some health benefits as the fruit comes with some of the most essential nutrients for your body.

These peppers become superb sources of vitamin A and C thanks to their carotenoid concentration including beta-carotene.

Moreover, cubanelle also offers two powerful antioxidants, folate, and vitamin B6 that are very vital for heart health.

The high percentage of Vitamin A in cubanelle is great for the health of your lung. You can also expect a variety of significant minerals in this pepper, such as manganese, copper, and potassium.

You can visit local farmers’ markets in early fall or late summer to get the cubanelle and enjoy its rich nutrients. Make sure to get long, bright yellow, orangish-red, or yellow-skinned ones for the best.

The Best Cubanelle Pepper Alternatives

You can use Anaheim chiles which are green rather than yellow, still mild in flavor and heat or red or yellow bell peppers which will offer no heat.
Cubanelle Alternatives

While these peppers offer a delicious taste and a lot of health benefits, finding them in stores can be pretty difficult if you are living outside of areas with Caribbean or Italian influence.

Fortunately, you can have a cubanelle pepper substitute that has the same flavor and heat. Although it will not match the capability in the frying pan completely, this alternative will still save your dish.

For something that you can everywhere, there is bell pepper to substitute the cubanelle. It has a similar flavor even though the walls are pretty thick.

While it is not good for frying, it still makes a great choice for stuffing.

You will step down to zero temperature when using bell peppers, but the cubanelle is not that far behind as well. For other alternatives, try some of the following products.

  • Anaheim Pepper

The Anaheim pepper is a versatile chili pepper named for the city that made it popular, Anaheim, California.
Anaheim Pepper

If you are looking for the best substitute, Anaheim pepper is the one. Its taste is a bit sweet and is similar enough to cubanelle, making it works in nearly all recipes.

Similar to bell peppers, Anaheim chilies come with thick walls as well. As a result, they only make a good alternative for stuffing ingredients instead of frying.

Compared to cubanelle pepper heat, the Anaheim is a jump-up that offers 500 to 2,500 Scoville units.

However, both of them are still mild chilies, especially when it comes to a bit of extra simmer, not an intense heatwave.

  • Banana Pepper

The banana pepper is a medium-sized member of the chili pepper family that has a mild, tangy taste.
Banana Peppers

It is no secret that banana pepper has a different flavor from the cubanelle. It typically offers a sweet tang, so it is not always a great substitution for some cuisines.

While the flavor is fairly dissimilar, banana peppers have a comparable heat profile to the cubanelle as it is ranging from 0 to 500 Scoville Heat Units.

You may easily find banana peppers on pizza and sandwiches as a topping. If your recipe can tolerate a bit of additional tang, then this pepper will be a good choice to try.

Keep in mind that banana peppers also acquire thicker walls, so you cannot fry them as easily as the cubanelle.

This pepper makes a great ingredient for various delicious cuisines and offers a large number of nutrients for your healthy body.

To sum up, the cubanelle pepper is indeed another useful plant to cultivate in your garden.

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