Well, it took me about 4 hours, but I managed to clean, seed, and pack for the freezer 25 pounds of green chile yesterday!
I got back from the health food store where I had my organic chile roasted and got started around 2 pm. This batch is from a local farm here in the Mesilla Valley and it sure looks good! The peppers where fully-fleshed and had lots of those “white” ribby areas inside….and that’s where the heat is! So, hopefully, this will mean lovely, medium hot chiles!
Last year I went up to Hatch, the little town which is the center of the universe here in NM for chile, both red and green. Red chile is literally dried on the rooftops of the various stores. One store in particular did a great job of presenting numerous types of chile…from the very mild to the VERY hot varieties. We were able to taste the raw chile and decide which kind we wanted. This was the first time I had ever bought a large amount of chile, so I had to learn how to handle it all, and it took forever to get it packed. This year, I had a system and it went much faster.
I’m a native of NJ, so all this chile had me rather confused at first. But I’ve become a pro at making wonderful red chile sauce out of dried pods, and now I’m quite good at preparing a year’s supply of the green. My grandmother used to roast peppers over the stove, but they weren’t hot peppers. As a kid, I remember eating pimientos as part of an anti pasto but that’s as far as my knowledge of peppers went. Unless, of course, you count the fried peppers infused with lovely garlic and olive oil and devoured with fresh Italian bread…and I mean, REAL Italian bread, not the stuff they warm up at 4 pm in the grocery stores. HEAVEN!
This year in the garden I have a pimiento plant which I got quite by accident for about $1.00 to fill in a space in the bed. Well, the plant is loaded with wonderful heart-shaped peppers. They are so sweet to eat green, but I’m holding out for some to turn red. And then I’ll find a recipe to make them the way I remember when we got them at the Italian store in Lodi.
Hatch is also the site of the annual Chile Festival which attracts large crowds. If you can’t get there, you can buy from the sellers and they’ll ship them anywhere! The NM Chile site has links to all the information on how to order all types of chile products. You’ll also find a picture of the type of roasting drum that is used to toss the chiles over a flame at the “roasters” link. Let me tell you, there is NOTHING like the smell of roasting chile! Around town, the roasters are at work at Walmart, Albertsons, and Lowes grocery stores, right out front and the smell of roasting chile wafts across the parking lots. And this year, Mountain View Market, is roasting, too, which is even better, because their chiles are organic.
According to a recent article in the local paper (Pests, Rain Reduce Chile Output ), this year’s crop has had a few setbacks because of our unusually high level of rainfall and cloudy days. The crop has been delayed about 2 weeks and production has dropped due to weather or disease. As of August 30, about 20% of the crop has been harvested. With 85% of the crop going to food processing plants across the nation, only 15% goes the fresh market.
And, lucky me, I got some today!
For chile recipes, click here!