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Don’t Let This Opportunity Pass You By!

What is one of the biggest benefits to “eating with the seasons?”


It's the anticipation of those flavorful and nutritious foods coming into season each year!


You start thinking about all the absolutely delicious meals you can make, your cravings start to ramp up, and then you get to savor the foods for as long as they are available.  In the Spring, we look forward to asparagus and strawberries.  Then, of course, the wide variety of foods that summer brings.  And, when August rolls around, that can only mean one thing...

it's Hatch Chile season!


Several years ago, we decided to pick up some of these chilies we kept hearing about, but never took the time to try.  One Saturday morning on the way home from the farmers’ market, we stopped by our local garden center, placed our order and watched them roast the Hatch Chile peppers right before our eyes!  They bagged them up and, 15 minutes later, we were on our way with roasted chilies ready to enjoy!


It's time!

Last week we got word that our local garden center team had returned from their annual trip to New Mexico and the peppers were now available.  We headed over to pick up a half bushel and we devoured our first batches of Hatch Chile Guacamole and Hatch Peach Salsa of the season.  Check out our video to see how easy it is!



What's so special about Hatch chilies?

Hatch chile refers to varieties of chilies grown in Hatch Valley, New Mexico.  The soil and growing conditions in Hatch Valley contribute to the unique flavor of the chilies grown there.

Hatch Valley is at 4,000 foot elevation, so it gets hot during the day, and then cools off at night.  This hot to cool condition gives the peppers a unique taste compared to those grown in other parts of New Mexico.  Keep in mind… sometimes chilies are called “Hatch,” but they may not come from the Hatch Valley, and therefore are not truly Hatch Chile peppers.

In recent years, peppers from Mexico, Peru and even China have been imported and marketed as “Hatch” chilies.  Locals will tell you real Hatch chilies are the best and it isn’t a Hatch chile if it’s not from Hatch Valley!  We haven’t done a taste test, but after enjoying the chilies from the Hatch Valley, we are believers!

Most of the chile varieties grown in Hatch Valley have been developed in conjunction with New Mexico State University over the past 100-plus years.  The chile growing industry is very important to the economy in New Mexico and is a prominent part of the culture.  So much so, the Hatch Valley Chile Festival is celebrated every year over Labor Day weekend and this 2-day event will bring more than 30,000 people to Hatch, New Mexico from all over the world -- it's the Chile Capital of the World!


How do you choose Hatch chilies?

When ripe, these chilies are harvested and are either green or red, although some varieties may turn yellow, orange or brown.  The green and red peppers come from the same plant…it is just a matter of when they are picked.  They come in very mild varieties, such as NM 6-4, to hotter varieties such as Big Jim, NuMex Barker, or Lumbre.

When buying your chilies, look for symmetrical chilies that will roast evenly.  They shouldn’t have any soft spots, bruises or mold.  Most people prefer to roast or grill them over a direct heat source until they begin to blister.

The heat profile of the Hatch chilies is unique -- it's a delayed heat.  These chilies truly provide a unique combination of flavor and heat!  This makes them ideal to use in a wide variety of recipes…everything from Mexican dishes to burgers to seafood to chili…believe it or not, you can even use Hatch chilies to add a unique flavor and kick to your favorite dessert!


Good for you too!

These chilies are a fantastic REAL food and provide a variety of health benefits.  They provide important nutrients such as Vitamins A and C as well as beneficial antioxidants.  Believe it or not, a medium chile has more vitamin C than an orange!  They also help to speed up metabolism and are sometimes used in the treatment of blood clots, sore throats and aching muscles.


Find Hatch chilies where you are!

We encourage you to find Hatch chilies in your community - if you are not yet aware of where you can get them, ask around...your local stores, farmers’ markets or garden centers are a good place to start.

In the Wichita, KS area, we have a local garden center, whose owner, Marty Johnson, travels to New Mexico every year to bring his Wichita customers fresh, in-season Hatch chilies.  They provide these chilies, which can be roasted at the time of purchase, from early August to late September.  They even keep a frozen supply for the winter.

At our local Johnson’s Garden Centers, you have options:

  • Small Starter Bag (with about 20 chilies)
  • 1/2 Bushel (about 50-60 chilies)
  • Large Bag (a bushel plus a little more, about 140-200 chilies)

Your heat options are mild, medium, hot and extra hot.  Keep in mind…mild will be mild, but when you get into the hot options, you may get some in a batch that are hotter than others.  We have experienced that our “hot” were not as hot after they were frozen, so either the freezing brought down the heat or maybe it just wasn’t a super-hot batch – either way, they still taste amazing!


Roast (or Grill) Hatch Chilies Yourself!

If you don't want your Hatch Chilies pre-roasted or don't have a resource to purchase pre-roasted Hatch Chilies, you can roast them yourself.

  1. Simply preheat your oven broiler to high, or oven to 400 to 450 degrees, or preheat the grill.
  2. Arrange the chilies in a single layer on a baking sheet, which you can line with aluminum foil.
  3. Roast or grill (directly on the grates) until the skin is about 60% to 70% charred and blistered.  Under the oven broiler it will take about 5 minutes per side, on the grill about 10-15 minutes, and roasting at 400-450 degrees about 20-25 minutes.  Turning them halfway through cooking will let them brown and blister more evenly.
  4. Once they are done, let them cool, and then they are ready to enjoy or package up for the freezer.


Preserve Hatch chilies to enjoy all year long!

There is a lot of personal preference involved in how you freeze your Hatch chilies.  When you purchase freshly-roasted peppers, they will likely be warm in a bag so they can “sweat.”  This process makes the skin easier to remove.  Whether you remove the skin or not is your choice…if you bought the hot variety, this is where kitchen gloves will come in handy!

When we froze our chilies, we divided them into equal portions (after they had cooled), filling gallon-size Ziploc bags (about 1/3 full, with 10-15 chilies per bag), we removed the stems but left most of the skin on.   When we are ready to enjoy them, we let them thaw, and then chop…skin and all!


Here are some quick tips:


  • If purchasing in a large quantity seems like more than you can handle, consider sharing the bag with family or friends so you can enjoy delicious Hatch chilies all year long.
  • Peel the skin or leave it on…it is a matter of preference (removing the stem before freezing is optional too).
  • Freeze whole or chopped.
  • If you don’t wear gloves, wash your hands well — especially before rubbing your eyes.
  • Freezing chopped chilies in 1 cup portions will make it easier to add to recipes later on.
  • You can either thaw them in the refrigerator or microwave.
  • After you buy roasted chilies (or roast them yourself), do something with them…refrigerate or freeze — don’t let the chilies sit out overnight.
  • Get creative and enjoy them in all different types of meals!


We hope you will give the Hatch chilies a try!  And we have you covered with great-tasting recipes on Eat REAL America.


Just a few ideas for inspiration include:


Hatch Chile Burgers

Hatch Chile Stew

Chicken Burrito Bowls with Hatch Chile Pico de Gallo

Hatch Chile Southwest Quinoa

Hatch Chile and Prosciutto Pizza

Hatch Chile Crab Cakes and Salsa


Do you have a favorite way to enjoy Hatch chilies?

Please share with us!


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