Chipotle Morita Chiles
Chipotle Morita Chiles (pronounced "chi-POHT-lay"), Capsicum annuum, are also called Blackberry chile, Chipotle Colorado, Mora chile, or Morita pepper. Chipotle comes from the Nahuatl word "chilpoctli" with "chil" meaning chile pepper and "poctli" meaning smoked (was originally "pochilli"). Morita translates to "small blackberry" in Spanish.
There are approximately 9 chiles per ounce.
What is a Morita Chile
A Chipotle chile is a smoked jalapeno. There are actually two types of Chipotle chiles found in the US, the more common is the Chipotle "Morita" and the harder to find, and the one that serious chile lovers believe is better quality, smoked jalapeno that's called the Chipotle "Meco". The more common variety of smoked jalapenos is usually referred to as just "chipotle chile". Morita chile peppers are about 1"- 2" long with a pliable, wrinkled skin with a color that is brown to dark red.
There are some not so subtle differences between the two -- while both are left on the vine to fully ripen to red they are smoked differently. The "Meco" tends to be a bit larger of the two and is also smoked about twice as long. This makes them less leathery and pliable than the "Morita" and also gives them a smokier, more intensely rich flavor.
There's a third variety of smoked jalapenos called "Capones" which means "castrated ones" and these are very rare in the US. This is a red jalapeno that has had the seeds removed prior to smoking. These tend to be a milder heat chile.
History of Chipotle Chiles
The ancient civilization of Teotihuacan was the largest city/ state in Mesoamerica and was located north of modern day Mexico City. The original habitants of Teotihuacan smoked chiles hundreds of years before the Aztecs (1345-1521) did. This "smoke drying" process was initially used for drying meats but they found that smoking allowed the chiles to be stored for a long period of time. Teotihuacan is actually the Aztec name for the city, which translates to "Place of the Gods" as the original name has not been deciphered from surviving name glyphs (unique marks that collectively add up to the spelling of a word) at the site. Chile historians believe that the Aztecs also smoked jalapeno peppers because the fleshy, thick walls of the jalapeno were often difficult to dry in the sun and tended to rot.
Jalapeños are named after the town of Xalapa (often spelled as Jalapa) in Véracruz State (although no longer commercially grown there), and are also known by the names cuaresmeños, gordo or Lenten chiles. In Veracruz jalapenos are called "chiles gordos", in Puebla and Oaxaca they may also be called "huachinangos". In its dried form, the traditional chipotle chile (known as chipotle "Meco") is a dull tan to deep coffee brown in color with a wrinkled, ridged surface. It is usually 2" to 4" long and 1" wide, with a medium thick flesh.
A Spanish friar living in Mexico in the 1500s wrote of a dish he ate in Cholula (modern day Puebla) called "teatzin" which had a sauce made from chipotle and pasilla chiles that was used to stew Lenten palm flowers and fresh jalapeno chiles.
After the fall of the Aztec Empire, smoked chiles were found mostly in central and southern Mexico markets of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Puebla and Veracruz.
Chipotle Chile Cultivation
The jalapeno plant reaches a height of two and a half to three feet tall with leaves that are about 3" long x 2" wide and are a light to dark green in color. The flower petals are white with no spots which give way to the fruit which becomes cylindrical and conical and typically between 1" and 3" long. The growing period is typically 70 - 80 days.
Jalapenos are commercially grown and smoked in the lower Palaloapan River Valley in the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Véracruz, northern Veracruz and the region around Delicias, Chihuahua (located in northern Mexico). Of the total Mexican jalapeno crop 20% is earmarked for fresh consumption, 60% for processing and the remaining 20% is to be smoke-dried into chipotles.
Once harvested, the ripe chiles are moved to a smoking chamber, where they are placed on racks and dried for several days (or longer) with low heat and wood smoke. Every few hours they're gently stirred to expose all sides of the chile to more smoke; the smokier, the better. Creative and unscrupulous producers have started to use large capacity gas driers, spraying the chiles with liquid smoke to mimic the traditional smoking process. To tell if your chipotle's have been treated this way, we recommend smelling your chiles as liquid smoke will often leave an unpleasant artificial chemical fragrance.
Our chipotle chiles are smoked using either pecan wood or applewood.
Where are Our Morita Chiles From?
Our Morita Chiles are grown in Mexico.
What do Morita Chiles Taste Like
These chiles are smoky, with a somewhat sweet chocolaty aroma and flavor.
Are Morita Chiles Hot
These chiles are considered a medium heat chile and come it at 2,500 to 10,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units).
Tips from Our Kitchen
Originally, Chipotle chiles were most commonly used to flavor salsas, stews and soups but now this popular flavor has found its way into everything from fried chicken to chips.
Chipotle chiles are excellent with beef, chicken and pork chops and some of our favorite recipes is Orange Chipotle Grilled Chicken , Spicy Slow Cooker Chili , made from scratch Chipotle Adobo Sauce , and Roasted Garlic and Chipotle Sauce.
Your recipe may call for the chipotle chiles to be lightly toasted (or roasted) as this really brings out the flavor in them. We have also had some recipes calling for them to be lightly fried in oil or even burnt black.
To toast your dried chipotles, they can be lightly toasted on a dry comal (a smooth, flat griddle used in Mexico to cook tortillas, toast spices and sear meat) or a skillet (we prefer cast iron), just until they get fragrant and swell slightly. Be careful not to overcook as this makes them bitter. Once toasted, the seeds and ribs can be removed if you wish to have less heat and the chiles can then be ground or used whole. Some traditional Mexican sauces call for the toasted chiles to be sautéed in lard or oil prior to being pureed.
You can re-hydrate them by soaking in hot water for about 20 minutes and then draining odd the excess liquid. Don't let them soak much longer than that, as they may become bitter. Sometimes we keep the excess liquid and add it the dish during cooking for even more flavor (especially soups and stews) .
Try chipotles in brownies, cakes, chilaquiles (a traditional Mexican dish of fried tortillas bathed in green or red salsa until tender), chile con carne, scrambled eggs, pickled vegetables, salsas, cooked sauces, soups, stews, or queso.
Morita Chile Substitution and Conversions
If you're looking for a substitute chile that is close in heat level and flavor then we recommend using Meco Chiles (2,500 – 10,000 SHU). You can use Pasilla de Oaxaca Chiles (15,000 – 20,000 SHU), but they are hotter than chipotles so use this substitution with caution. You can also use equal quantities of chipotle in adobo sauce plus 1 teaspoon sauce per chile.
1 Morita Chile Pod is equal to 1/2 teaspoon of Morita Chile Powder.
** This product is certified kosher.
|Also Called||Blackberry chile, Chipotle Colorado, Mora chile, or Morita pepper|
|Recommended Uses||Used to flavor salsas, stews and soups|
|Flavor Profile||Smoky, with a somewhat sweet chocolatey aroma and flavor|
|Scoville Heat Units||2,500 - 10,000 SHU|
|Botanical Name||Capsicum annuum|
|Cuisine||Mexico, American Southwest|
|How To Store||Airtight container in a cool, dark place|
|Shelf Life||1-2 Years|
|Country of Origin||Mexico|
|Dietary Preferences||Gluten Free, Kosher, Non-GMO|
Serving Size1 chile, 3g
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*