Hatch New Mexico Chiles
Hatch New Mexico Chiles
New Mexico Chiles
New Mexico Chiles, Capsicum Annuum, are a chile grown in New Mexico. They may also be called Hatch chile or red chile.
There are approximately 5 chiles per ounce.
What Are Hatch New Mexico Chiles
According to Dave Dewitt, the noted chile historian, “There is no such thing as a Hatch chile, despite all the hype about them. It is not a chile variety, as many people think. Yes, there are chiles grown in Hatch, New Mexico, usually the varieties ‘Barker’ and ‘NuMex 6-4’." We've also found that other popular varieties grown in Hatch include 'Big Jim' and 'R-Naky'.
These chiles are 4.75"-6.75" long and about 2" wide. with a smooth skin and a deep reddish-brown color. These are considered a mild heat chile (800 - 1400 SHU). First grown in Santa Fe de Nuevo México (a Kingdom of the Spanish Empire and New Spain, this area later became a territory of independent Mexico) by the region's Pueblo and Hispano communities.
New Mexico chiles are often confused with their close relative the California Chiles, also called Anaheim Peppers.
New Mexico Peppers when ground into a powder is also known as the table condiment “molido” or New Mexico Molido.
What is a Hatch New Mexico Chile
Nestled in the center of the Rio Grande agricultural territory and located 37 miles north of Las Cruces is Hatch, New Mexico, the self-proclaimed Chile Capital of the World of the World. The soil and growing conditions in the Hatch Valley are said by locals to create a unique terroir (similar to wine terroirs) which is responsible for the flavor of chile grown there.
While chiles grown in the Hatch area are probably the best known of New Mexican grown chiles they are actually only one of 50 varieties of New Mexican grown chiles. Hatch chiles are 5" to 7" long and 2" wide while slowly tapering to a blunt end. A top grade New Mexico chile should be clean, somewhat pliable, untorn and aromatic.
Possesses an earthy, sweet flavor with hints of acidity, weediness and dried cherry undertones.
Are New Mexico Chiles Hot
New Mexico chiles, while considered a mild heat chile, are a bit hotter at 800-1,400 SHU (Scoville Heat Units) and more flavorful than the California Chiles (500-1,000 SHU).
Are New Mexico Chiles the Same as Guajillo Chiles
While both are from the same botanical family, Capsicum Annuum, Guajillo Chiles have a different flavor profile (a bit smokier tartness) and packs more heat 2,500-5,000 SHU.
How to Use New Mexico Chiles
New Mexico Chiles are commonly used in Southwestern US and Mexican dishes that add piquancy (or zest) to red sauces, chile con queso, chile rellenos, chile verde, chutneys, salsas, soups, seasonings, stews and dry rubs. We also love to roast them and use in salads, dips and sandwiches. One of our commercial baker customers infuses them into her chocolate.
You can add dried New Mexico Chiles directly to your recipes -- diced, sliced, or pureed. The whole dried pod can be ground in your spice or coffee grinder (with or without the seeds, depending on your heat tolerance). You can also roast them first to release additional flavor in a nonstick skillet for 5-10 minutes. Be sure to use low to medium heat for this and be careful not to burn or scorch the chiles. These chiles can also be re-hydrated by pouring hot (not boiling) water over them and letting sit about 10-15 minutes. Don’t let them soak longer, as they tend to become bitter.
We also offer a Hatch Valley grown Red Chile Flake.
New Mexico Chile Substitutions and Conversions
If you ask someone from New Mexico about what to use as a substitute chile you’ll get an answer that there is no substitute. But if you’re in a pinch you can use California Chiles (a.k.a. Anaheim Peppers) which are closely related or if you want a bit more heat Guajillo Chiles.
1 Dried New Mexico Chile Pod is equal to 1 teaspoon of Ground New Mexico Chile.
History of New Mexico Chiles
Native to central Mexico, New Mexico Chiles have been grown in the area for at least 400 years1. Chile peppers were one of the most vital foodstuffs among pre-contact (before European contact) Mesoamerican societies stretching from central Mexico down into Central and South America. Native Mesoamerican plants were significant crops grown in what is the modern-day Southwestern US during pre-contact times. This shows the sharing of agricultural knowledge and crops between the people of these areas. But despite this the chile pepper was not among the more important crops in this region during that time2. While the indigenous agrarian pueblo people of the upper Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico did not cultivate chiles, wild chiles were regularly traded between tribes in southern New Mexico and southern Arizona3. Surviving written records indicate that chile pepper seed was first introduced to the New Mexico territory by Spanish explorers in the late 1580s4, but these pre-contact trade routes suggest there was at least limited use of chile peppers before the arrival of the Spanish.
What is not disputed is that the Spanish introduction of chile peppers did dramatically increase the varieties of chiles being cultivated in this area, most likely Chilacas (known as the Pasilla when dried), Jalapeños, Poblanos (the dried version is Ancho), and Serrano Peppers.
In the succeeding years the popularity of chile peppers would continue to grow and chiles were subsequently cultivated for hundreds of years in the northern part of region with such meticulous care that multiple distinct varieties emerged. These varieties became known as “landrace chiles”. Research conducted by New Mexico State University found that the northern New Mexico landraces are genetically unique compared to New Mexico-type commercial chile pepper cultivars, and more like chile pepper landraces from Mexico5. Landrace chiles are typically either named after the community where they're grown in (i.e. with Chimayo and Espanola being two of the best known) or by family farms which to this day maintain their own unique named landrace chiles with some of the better known of these including Hernandez, Escondida, Alcaldes and Velarde.
The commercially known Hatch New Mexico chile took a different path than the landrace chiles. The pioneering horticulturist Fabián Garcia was a member of the first graduating class of New Mexico A&M in 1894 (it became known as New Mexico State University in 1960). Upon graduation Garcia began improving the local chiles grown by Hispanic gardeners around Las Cruces and he later received his doctorate and became a professor at the University. In 1913 Dr. Garcia became director of the University’s experiment station where he set out to improve native chiles through hybridization and selection. His goal was to produce a chile cultivar that if milder would increase chile consumption among the Anglo population which in turn would create a viable commercial chile agribusiness for area farmers. He selected 14 chile accessions growing in the Las Cruces area that were either red or black in color. By 1921 only one line remained 'New Mexico No. 9' which he felt was the best and while not quite as hot as some of the non-selected cultivars was just hot enough for the Anglos6.
The New Mexico Hatch chile has a long family farm history that can be traced back to the Franzoy family -- Austrian immigrants who arrived in the Hatch valley in 1917. When the Franzoy family settled there, they got into vegetable farming and chiles were one of the vegetables they really focused on. As the story goes, Joseph and Celestina Franzoy had four daughters and six sons who in turn also produced big families. Many of valley’s current chile farmers are still Franzoys, either by name or by marriage. The Franzoy’s partnered with New Mexico A & M to keep meticulous records on the cultivation of several successful varieties of chiles. The expanding family members bought up a lot of the farm land in the valley and today cultivates New Mexico chiles on thousands of acres of pristine farm land in the valley7.
New Mexico State University has the longest continuous program of chile development in the world which began in 1888 (when it was known as New Mexico A & M). Between 1921, with New Mexico No. 9, and 2008, with Heritage NuMex Big Jim, New Mexico State University has officially released 27 separate chile cultivars for commercial use8.
Cultivation of New Mexico Chiles
Chile peppers have been grown in New Mexico for at least four centuries. New Mexico chile peppers are grown from seeds and each of the individual pepper types is specifically bred and grown to be flavorful, disease-resistant and provide consistent and healthy plants within their specific area.
New Mexico’s high altitude, desert climate, and rocky soil9 make for a one of a kind growing region in the Hatch Valley with a unique terroir which contributes to the flavor of the chiles grown there10. The Caballo Mountain range to the west and the high deserts provide the ideal regional environment for growing chiles. To ensure that a variety's lineage remains disease-resistant and maintains optimal growth within its heritage region, seeds from specific chile plants from previous years are carefully selected.
A deep, well-drained, medium-textured sandy loam, or loam soil, is best for producing chiles. Good yields often result from planting chiles in a place that contained a flood-irrigated crop the previous year. Preparing the soil involves plowing, deep chiseling, disking, smoothing, and listing. Listed beds are formed by scalping the top of the ridge with a drag harrow. The field is irrigated 2 to 4 weeks before planting, and the chile seeds are planted before the soil dries 11. Chiles do best when temperatures are above 60°F as light frosts can kill them. The optimal period for direct-seed planting of chile peppers in New Mexico is between early March and mid-April in southern New Mexico. The planting date for red chiles is more critical than it is for green chiles because time in the field is critical for optimum flavor and size. Early planting (prior to March 20) produces best results12. In the Hatch, New Mexico are chile plants typically begin flowering in mid-June, with a single flower at the first branching node. The number of flowers doubles with each extra node. Fruits from early flowers tend to be large with greater red color content, and more flavor when fully mature.
Chile peppers are harvested for maximum flavor and color when the fruit has partially dried on the plant, as moist red pods will not have fully developed their flavor and color. Extensive research by the Chile Pepper Institute of New Mexico State University has shown the highest yields and most flavorful chiles occur harvested in the period between late October and early November before the first seasonal freeze. Approximately 85% of the red chile crop in New Mexico is mechanically harvested. Pod moisture content from field-picked red chile is between 65 and 80%, depending on whether they are partially dried on the plant or harvested while still succulent. Moisture must be reduced to about 10 to 11% for storage13. Traditionally, chile was dehydrated by sun drying, with fruit spread on roofs or on tarps laid on the ground. This method led to some contamination by birds and rodents, which led to lower quality chile yields for processors. Today this is better controlled through artificial drying with dehydration temperatures range from 140 to 150°F. Once harvested chile peppers are transported to the processor and move through a dry-reel, a sorting line, a chlorinated wash, a rock tank, a final rinse, and a slicer before dehydration. Ground chiles lose their flavor and color faster than whole pods during storage. For this reason, red chile is often stored as flakes before final grinding to powder13.
Where are Our New Mexico Chiles From
Our New Mexico chiles are grown in the Hatch Valley of New Mexico.
|Ingredients||New Mexico Chiles|
|Also Called||Hatch chile or red chile|
|Recommended Uses||Use in red sauces, salsas, soups, and dry rubs|
|Flavor Profile||Earthy, sweet flavor with acidic, grassy, and dried cherry undertones|
|Scoville Heat Units||800--1,400 SHU|
|Cuisine||Mexican, American Southwest|
|How To Store||Airtight container in a cool, dark place|
|Shelf Life||1-2 years|
|Country of Origin||USA|
|Dietary Preferences||Gluten Free, Kosher, Non-GMO|
Hungry for More Information
1 Bosland, P. W., & Walker, S. (2014, May). Growing Chiles in New Mexico(Guide H-230). College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences.
2 Minnis, P. E., & Whalen, M. E. (2010). The First Prehispanic Chile (Capsicum) from the U.S. Southwest/Northwest Mexico and its Changing Use. American Antiquity, 75(2), 245–257.
3 Ebeling, W. (1986). Handbook of Indian Foods and Fibers of Arid America. Amsterdam University Press.
4 Andrews, J. (1999). The Pepper Trail: History and Recipes from Around the World (Revised, Subsequent ed.). University of North Texas Press.
5 Votava, E. J., Baral, J. B., & Bosland, P. W. (2005). Genetic Diversity of Chile (Capsicum Annuum Var. Annuum L.) Landraces from Northern New Mexico, Colorado, and Mexico. Economic Botany, 59(1), 8–17.
6 García, F. (1921). Improved Variety No. 9 of Native Chile . NMSU Cooperative Extension Service and Agricultural Experiment Station Publications, 124.
7 Busemeyer, D. (2021, September 7). The Story of Hatch Green Chile. New Mexico Magazine.
8 Coon, D. L., Votava, E. J., & Boslan, P. W. (2008, November). Chile cultivars of New Mexico State University released from 1913 to 2008 (Research Report 763). New Mexico State University Library.
9 New Mexico: Chile Capital of the World. (n.d.). New Mexico True. Retrieved December 26, 2021.
10 Biggers, A. M. (2021, September 7). Local Dirt. New Mexico Magazine. Retrieved December 26, 2021.
11 Bosland, P., & Walker, S. (2014, May). NMSU: Growing Chiles in New Mexico. New Mexico State University. Retrieved December 26, 2021.
12 Pennock, R. (2003, December). Chile pepper growers’ notes: 2003 :: NMSU Cooperative Extension Service and Agricultural Experiment Station Publications. New Mexico State University. Retrieved December 26, 2021.
13, 14 Walker, S. (2011, January). NMSU: Postharvest Handling of Dehydrated Chiles. New Mexico State University. Retrieved December 26, 2021.
Serving Size1 chile, 6g
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*