This is the time of year that the delicious smell of roasted green chile peppers fills the air around Santa Fe. The chile season starts around late July and continues until mid September most years. The season really depends upon the weather. Sometimes the chiles appear earlier or stay later. Hatch Green Chiles are well known as a staple of New Mexican Cooking. Hatch is a town in the southern part of New Mexico. The Anaheim pepper is a descendant of the Hatch chile pepper. The peppers taste different because of where they are grown. The Hatch chile pepper has a limited growing season depending on the weather, late July to August or September, sometimes even into October, unlike the Anaheim pepper which can be grown all year. Hatch Chiles are also much hotter.
We were really late in getting our chiles this year. We get our Hatch Green Chile from Berridge Farms on the Rodeo de Santa Fe Grounds. Berridge Farms has a huge semi trailer full of Hatch Green Chiles. Well, it was full in August. We only needed half a bag which is about 15 pounds of chile. It cost 23 dollars. Berridge Farms is only going to be in Santa Fe until next weekend. They expected to sell out of chiles by Sunday afternoon September 23, 2018. Berridge Farms has an interesting video on their Our Story page which I linked above.
I think it is incredibly interesting to watch the entire roasting process. Chile roasters are powered by propane tanks. First, you select the type, then the amount of chile, the next decision was whether you want Berridge Farms to roast the chile. We got the hot chile roasted and only half a bag. After all these decisions are made, I like to watch the chile being placed in a cylindrical wire roaster. As I said before the smell is just outstanding. It is so hard to describe. It just means fall to me. After the chile is roasted, it is corralled into a plastic bag. We placed the roasted chile into another bag and put it in the car trunk. This sweating process helps loosen the chile skin to come off easier.
There are many different techniques used to freeze the chile. You can place the cleaned chile without the skin in a freezer bag with the chile still intact. We take the skin off and cut the chile in half then we take out all the seeds. We also cut the top off of the chile. Then we place the chile flat in freezer bags to place into the freezer. Some people say that if you keep the chile intact your chile will be hotter. We choose to get rid of the seeds because of ease of use. We can just break off a piece of chile when we need to use it. Like when I have a pizza, or a veggie burger, or mashed potatoes, or with mac and cheese. We even put green chile in our stuffing at Thanksgiving.
When I first moved to Santa Fe, I just enjoyed the smell of roasting chiles. I asked my boss what was the big deal? He said that I would find out. Now it is important to get enough Hatch Green Chile to last the entire year. Ok, I don’t put green chile in everything, so we just need a half a bag. Most people get the entire bag. I still have a large bottle of Tabasco on my dining room table. Depends on what I am eating.