It’s harvest time, when all the fruits of our early season labors begin to pay off. Squash and tomatoes are plentiful, onions and beets are ready, melons and eggplants are ripening. And of course, so are chiles, from sweet bell and banana peppers, to jalapenos and the classic favorite, the green chile pepper.
Roasting green chile peppers has become as synonymous with fall as pumpkins and golden leaves. From the crackling sound of the peppers turning under the fire to the smoky aroma of them roasting, it’s time to make your way to the roaster. If you’re not familiar with this whole spectacle, it’s time you discover it. Your taste buds will thank you.
In an effort to preserve peppers as they all ripen at once, roasting not only imparts great flavor into the green chiles, but it allows the inedible skins to be peeled off easily so they then can be frozen or canned. People unfamiliar with green chiles often ask what to do with them, and the best reply is, put them in everything. If you’re not going to make the traditional green chile enchilada sauce or chile verde stew, chiles can be added to omelets and scrambled eggs, casseroles, beans, hamburgers, pizza, soups, salsas, chicken, meat and basically anything you want to add a dash of velvety flavor and, if you choose the hotter varieties, spice. Check out some recipes on our webpage, summerlandgardens.com
As the chiles ripen throughout the summer, they will start turning red and need to be treated a little differently. Red chiles can be picked, then hung to dry, as in the familiar Ristras. Once dried they can be ground into chile powder or soaked in water and reconstituted to make red chile.
The most popular varieties of chiles here are either from Hatch, NM or Pueblo. Chile aficionados have their favorite region, and surprisingly, you can taste a difference. It’s an addictive food and once you start tasting the difference, you’ll have your favorite too.
Hatch chile refers to the varieties of chiles grown in the Hatch Valley of New Mexico. There isn’t a chile pepper variety named Hatch, it’s the region south of Albuquerque, north of Las Cruses. The soil, climate and fresh water from the Rio Grande river all combine to create a deep flavored, rich, smoky chile, with lots of meat, which make them perfect for roasting. New Mexico State University has worked over the last 130 years, to breed and develop chiles for not only flavor and size, but to also be grown in the conditions of the Hatch valley. This has resulted in the smoky, fruity, fleshy chile that is hard to beat in flavor and has earned Hatch the nickname Chile Capital of the World! Popular varieties are Big Jim, Parkers, Sandias, and even the Anaheim which was developed in New Mexico but then became more widely grown in California. We ship up and roast fresh Hatch chiles daily and are never disappointed in their taste. As far as spiciness, varieties can be mild, medium, or hot depending on your preference.
Giving Hatch a run for the chile money is the Pueblo, Colorado chile. Michael Bartolo, a researcher with Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, worked for 25 years to develop a mirasol chile (one that grows upward towards the sun), that is uniquely Pueblo. Through the years he grew and selected for the best plants and developed the Mosco chile. This Pueblo chile is large, meaty, and a little spicy. Like the Hatch valley, the Arkansas River Valley endows Pueblo chiles with their own unique taste. Chiles grown at higher elevation, combined with long summers and big temperature swings between day and night help produce a thick, meaty chile. Pueblo chiles are also known for their spicy heat. If you’re looking for the super hot, Pueblo chiles offer Dynamite and, not kidding here, one called Chile From Hell. These are known more for their heat than for their flavor and should probably be eaten under doctor’s supervision.
- Chile peppers originally came from Brazil. According to the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University, their distribution from there was assisted by birds. Because birds lack receptors in their mouths to feel the spicy heat of a pepper, and because seeds pass through their digestive systems unharmed, chile seeds were distributed throughout Mexico and the American Southwest. They were then cultivated by indigenous people and hybridization began.
- It’s said that Christopher Columbus ate chiles when he visited the New World and called them “peppers” because they produced the same sensation in his mouth as black pepper. He returned to Spain with some pods to grow and from there spread throughout Europe and Asia.
- Chiles are hot because they contain a chemical called Capsaicin. It’s concentrated in the membranes surrounding the seeds and down the veins of the pepper. If you remove the seeds and the veins you can reduce the heat of the pepper.
- Capsaicin is the primary ingredient in the pain relief gels we use to reduce muscle soreness and aches and pains.
- How do you spell chile, chili, chilly? It is agreed among chile aficionados that chile is the plant or the green pod of the plant, and some say even the green chile sauce produced by the peppers, chili is the red, beefy soup, and chilly is just cold.
- One chile contains as much vitamin C as 6 oranges.
- Hot chile peppers burn calories by triggering a themodynamic burn in the body, which increases metabolism.
- Chiles are high in antioxidant carotenes and flavonoids, as well as anti-inflammatory properties.