It’s a bit earlier than usual, but the bottom line is that nature does as she sees fit. It’s Hatch Chile time, folks. If you’re not familiar, you need to be. One thing I miss already about not living down in the southwest – When the season hits and you go to the store, you’re greeted by the roar of chile roasters in the parking lot, and that heavenly smell wafting toward you from therein…
The Hatch Chile is the Grandfather of the well known Anaheim Chile. That said, the two really are apples and oranges. While Anaheims are mild, relatively nondescript long, green chiles, Hatches are full of flavor and attitude.
I know New Mexicans will bristle at this next paragraph, buuuuut…. There is no such variety as a Hatch. They are a New Mexico variety and the Hatch itself is so named because that’s where it is grown. In this regard, Hatch, New Mexico,at be looked at as is the Champagne region of France; if you want a Hatch chile, you gotta get the, from Hatch, ’cause anything else is just a wanna-be. There is something to the climate and soil that makes them what they are, and the are simply no substitutes.
Hatches come in everything from mild to fire breathing. Usually, stores will separate them into at least hot or mild; if they don’t, you pays your money and you takes your chances. If you roast, peel, devein and deseed them you’ll be fine, but it’s always a good idea to sample a bite from the bottom for heat level.
Hatches start out green, and most get sold and cooked with that way. If they mature, they turn fire engine red, as you may have seen on the colorful ristras of chiles that come from the same town.
Hatches are the heartbeat of anything green chile as far as we’re concerned, but especially for true green chili and enchilada sauce.
If I can find them in the grocery in the farthest northern city in the continental U.S., which I did today, you should be able to as well. Look for shiny, firm chiles with no wrinkles, lesions or soft spots when you shop.
You can use them right away, but you’ll want to put some away for the rest of the year just as we do, I’m sure. You can dry, pickle, or can Hatches if you like; some folks make chile sauce and pressure can that. I prefer to freeze these guys, so I roast, vacuum seal and freeze around 20 pounds a year and that usually does the trick. I process them in bags of about 6 to 8 chiles per, which is a good base for sauces and whatnot for a family of four or so. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, but them in ziplock freezer bags and suck as much air out as you can to help avoid freezer burn; they’ll easily last 6+ months in a good, cold freezer.
For more on canning, check out this post.
For roasting and drying, check out this one.
Go get ’em!
E & M