California Chile, Capsicum annuum, are also called California peppers, chile California seco, and Anaheim chile.
There are approximately 4 chiles per ounce.
What is a California Chile
A California Chile is technically a mild variety of the New Mexico Chile Pepper cultivar No. 9 that were first propagated by Dr. Fabian Garcia more than 100 years ago at New Mexico A & M (known today as New Mexico State University) as he was seeking a chile pepper that was bigger, fleshier, and milder than the available New Mexican varieties. California Chile peppers can grow to between 5"- 8" long and about 2" wide and they are flat with an elongated, oval shape that tapers to a point on the non-stem end. These California grown peppers are a darker, deeper red than their cousins which have a brighter, more glossy red color.
Since they're indigenous to New Mexico and closely resemble chiles from that region these chiles are often mistaken for New Mexico chiles but because of the soil and climate differences the Anaheim chiles are not as hot as their New Mexico cousins 800 – 1.400 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). The California produce industry's name for this New Mexican chile pod type is "Anaheim".
California Chiles are sold fresh and are also available roasted, dried, ground, or canned. When canned, these chiles are usually labeled simply as "green chiles".
What do California Chiles Taste Like
The flavor is mildly pungent and earthy with a touch of smokiness and hints of tangy fruitiness.
Are California Chiles Hot
This is a very mild chile in comparison to other chiles coming in at just 500-1000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units).
How do You Use California Chiles
The California Chile's principal use is for canning, though they are also sold widely as a fresh market mild chile pepper and in smaller amounts dried (both whole and ground). Fresh Anaheim chiles are commonly used to make chile rellenos.
If you're not a fan of chiles with heat but enjoy chile flavor more on the mild side, then this is the chile for you! Anaheim chiles are an excellent compliment to breakfast burritos, egg dishes, soups, stews, vegetable dishes and in a red sauce used on enchiladas or in tamales.
California Chiles pair well with aged cheeses, fresh young cheeses, pork, poultry, corn, tomatoes, eggs and black beans.
These chiles also work well in combination with cumin and coriander.
To bring out even more flavor we like to dry roast them in a hot skillet before using to release a subtle depth of smoky flavor. To re-hydrate soak in hot water for about 20 minutes and then drain off excess liquid. Don't let them soak much longer than that, as they may become bitter.
Some of our favorite recipes using this chile are Fiery Chile Pesto, and Instant Pot Coconut Fish Curry.
California Chile Substitution and Conversions
If you're looking for a substitute chile that is close in heat level more than flavor then we recommend Nora Chiles (500 SHU). If on the other hand you're looking to better match the flavor and are willing to go with a slightly hotter chile then go with either Hatch New Mexico Chiles (800-1400 SHU) or Guajillo chiles (2500-5000 SHU).
1 Dried California Chile Pod is equal to 1 teaspoon of Anaheim Chile Powder.
History of California Chiles
Today, the New Mexican pod type is often referred to as long green or ‘Anaheim.’ But the pod type is technically New Mexican, while chiles like ‘Anaheim’ are actually cultivars within this pod type. ‘Anaheim’ seeds are from chile peppers that originated in New Mexico and were taken to California where they were widely cultivated1.
Emilio Ortega grew up in California in the 19th century the 11th of 13 kids, and in 1890 moved to New Mexico where he encountered the locally popular dried red chile peppers. As Emilio became increasingly infatuated with the wide variety of chile peppers in the area he gravitated toward the flavor of the long green chiles before they fully matured to their signature red color. In 1894 he returned to California and brought with him seeds from some of the chiles he was most fond of2. Back home with his family in Ventura, California, Emilio planted the chile seeds and those chiles thrived in the temperate climate of Ventura. Soon Emilio had so many chiles he had to start giving them away. The chiles became so popular in the Anaheim area that they became known as simply Anaheim chiles. Dried Anaheim chiles have been used since the Anaheim pepper was first cultivated in California.
Ortega experimented and found that the green chiles could be roasted, peeled, seeded and washed and then preserved in glass jars for some time. The budding entrepreneur would soon discover that cans were easier to handle than glass jars and in 1898 he launched the Ortega Chile Packaging Company -- the first commercial food operation in the state of California! His company later became known simply as Ortega which became one of the largest Mexican food companies in the country3.
California Chile Cultivation
These peppers are warm-season crops, sensitive to freezing temperatures at any growth stage. The ideal growing temperatures range from 75° to 85°F, with night temperatures ranging between 50° to 60°F. The plants can tolerate up to 100°F but pollination, fruit set, and yield can be negatively impacted. Sandy soils are preferred for the earliest plantings because they warm more rapidly in the spring. Heavier soils can be quite productive, provided they are well drained and irrigated. Peppers that are to be harvested at mature fruit color are staked for support. These practices maximize early harvest and yield, which helps to compensate for high cost of land and water4. These chiles ripen from a greenish-yellow, to yellowish-orange to red at which time they are harvested and dried.
Where are Our California Chiles From?
Our California Chiles are grown in California.
|Also Called||California peppers, chile California seco, and Anaheim chile|
|Recommended Uses||Use in breakfast burritos, egg dishes, soups, stews, vegetable dishes and in a red sauce for enchiladas or in tamales|
|Flavor Profile||Mildly pungent with a somewhat sweet flavor|
|Scoville Heat Units||500 - 1,000 SHU|
|Botanical Name||Capsicum annuum|
|Cuisine||California, American Southwest|
|How To Store||Airtight container in a cool, dark place|
|Shelf Life||1-2 Years|
|Country of Origin||United States|
|Dietary Preferences||Gluten Free, Non-GMO|
Hungry for More
1 Coon, D., Votava, E., & Bosland, P. W. (2008, November). Chile cultivars of New Mexico State University released from 1913 to 2008(No. 763).
2 Ortega. (2021, October 29). Frequently Asked Questions. Ortega®. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
3 DeWitt, D. (2010, October 16). Red Pepper Money Makers, California 1901. Fiery Foods & Barbecue Central. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
4 Smith, R., Aguiar, J. L., A.B., Cahn, M., Cantwell, M., de la Fuente, M., Hartz, T., Koike, S., Molinar, R., Natwick, E., Suslow, T., & Takele, E. (2011). Chile Pepper Production in California. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
Serving Size1 chile, 7g
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*