Hatch chiles have amazing tastes, and smells.
They have a flavor that is hard to describe accurately. Spicy, savory, piquant, they are unlike any other chile.
Hatch are often-mistaken for their cousins, the Anaheim. Their aroma, alone, tells you the difference. It puts the broadest of smiles on the faces of New Mexicans, and those fortunate enough to have developed a Hatch habit.
THE COOK’S TOUR
The soils of New Mexico produce some of the most unique chiles in the world. Chiles are very adaptive. Where they grow can change their flavor, color, and variations of shape.
Normally, you add chiles for heat. Only a few, like Hatch, Chimayo, and Jalapeños, have any distinctive taste.
There is a savory piquancy, in the chiles grown in the Hatch Valley, that makes them stand-out. It’s not about the heat. It’s about the flavor.
There are a lot of “fakes” of Hatch chiles. A cousin of the Anaheim pepper, there are many grown in other parts of New Mexico, and Mexico, that claim to be “Hatch Valley” chiles, but are not.
One company even went so far as to brand the name “Hatch.” It’s the most commonly found, in supermarkets, yet if you look at the back of the label, it’s just common Anaheim green chiles.
Chiles from the Hatch Chile Store come from the Hatch Valley, in New Mexico. They have that signature “pop.” Roasted, then flash frozen, they retain a lot of the essential acids that create that flavor.
The area has been hit, several times, by price-cutting and outside competition from nearby regions. Hatch Chiles had been on the decline, because of the lack of profitability in growing them, versus other crops. Today, the family farms are recovering, thanks to direct sales like these.
Chiles from The Hatch Chile Store come from one of the area’s oldest family farms. It’s been in the same family for over five generations. They’ve been in business for more than a century! Your chiles are grown on 1000 acres of the most prime farmland in the Hatch Valley.
Your Annual Buy
Chiles grow, as you might guess, seasonally. So what you do to get the rare Hatch chiles is: Order ahead.
If you want the real deal, I’ve been buying from the Hatch Green Chile Store (HGCS) back from the time that they used to call themselves Berridge Farms. For fresh, the only way you can get something that even approximates what they box and ship right off of the farm.
When they ship, you receive, roast, and freeze bags or containers of it to get you through the year! Learn how to roast, peel, and freeze them in my article, and avoid un-Hatch Hatch chiles produced places other than the Valley.
Your only other way to get fresh roasted chiles is to head to Cerrilos Road, in Santa Fe, in August, and find one of the many pickup trucks, with the big roasting drums, positioned in parking lots along the way. Bring a big cooler with you!
PICK YOUR TEMPERATURE
Hatch chiles come in several different subspecies each with their own heat index. How hot they are is also a factor of how the weather is in New Mexico.
The dryer the year in Hatch, the spicier the chiles, I’ve found. Mild is a little less mild. Medium is more medium hot. Hot gets hotter.
So you look at the climate data, before you buy.
Hatch is in high altitude, but also in a generally a drier climate. Last year, when this was written, the peak growing months were very wet.
So, based on the weather, buy:
- The Joe Parker (Medium) in a normal year, more mild in a wet one;
- The 1904 (Mild-Medium) in a dry year; (Mild) in a wet year;
- and Big Jim (Medium-Hot) in a dry year; (Medium) in a wet year;.
Like the heat? Order:
You can lower the temperature a bit by stripping all of the seeds, and pith, out of your roasted chiles, but it robs them of some of the flavor experience.
You can find out more about the climate in the current growing season by going to US Climate Data, and the humidity levels (also important in the Hatch game) at Weather.com.
HGCS is also one of the most experienced online retailers of fresh product, so they have the shipping and communication thing down! That’s why they happily earn my Five Diamond Choicestuff nod for all of their products!
Hatch chiles are wonderful, because they so beautifully balance flavor, and heat. Is it worth paying a bit more to a family farm for totally legit product? No matter how good of a cook you are, if you don’t start with great ingredients, what kind of food will you end up serving?
I’m awarding the Hatch Chile Store our Five Diamond Choicetstuff™ rating, in frozen, as well as fresh, for their amazing product. If you can’t find dozens of great uses for them, keep reading. We’ll make sure that you do!