The green Hatch chile is notorious for having a very smoky and spicy flavor.
Origin of the Hatch Chile
Developed in the late-60’s and early 70’s by Dr. Nakayama, as a result of a breeding program at the New Mexico State University, a chile was being developed with the intent to supply the need for fresh chiles in the canned and processing industry. But, this unnamed chile was too “beefy.” There was simply too much chile, which in turn, created more waste than the processing facilities would want to deal with. Thus, it was left to die …or so they thought.
About a decade later, a man named Jim Lytle would pick up where Dr. Nakayama left off. Being a true farmer, Jim took this chile under his wings and started to plant and harvest the chile for several years. Around 1987, the last year of Jim’s life, this chile was approved by the New Mexico Crop Improvement Association and named in honor of the late Jim Lytle. And the “Big Jim” was born!https://www.melissas.com/category-s/2248.htm
What Kind of Chile is a Hatch Chile?
Authentic Hatch chiles are only grown in the Hatch, New Mexico. Local Farms in the Hatch Valley are irrigated from the Rio Grande by wells pumping groundwater along with surface water irrigation ditches. These divert water from the Rio Grande and two lakes approximately 20 mi north of Hatch named Caballo (Spanish for “horse”) and Elephant Butte Reservoir (named after a rock formation in the middle of the lake that looks similar to an elephant).
Hatch Chile Season
When picked early and then roasted, Hatch green chiles have a very smoky, upfront flavor,” explains Chef Nate Cotanch. “Then as the chiles mature and turn red, they develop a slightly sweeter flavor profile and a more earthy underlying taste.”
Hatch Chile Facts
- One fresh medium-sized green chile pod has as much Vitamin C as six oranges.
- One teaspoon of dried red chile powder has the daily requirements of Vitamin A.
- Hot chile peppers burn calories by triggering a thermodynamic burn in the body, which speeds up the metabolism.
- Teas & lozenges are made with chile peppers for the treatment of a sore throat.
- Capsaicinoids, the chemical that make chile peppers hot, are used in muscle patches for sore and aching muscles.
- Chile peppers are relatives of tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants, all belonging to the nightshade family.
- The color extracted from very red chile pepper pods, oleoresin, is used in everything from lipstick to processed meats.
- There are 26 known species of chile pepper, five of which are domesticated.
What Makes The New Mexico Chilies Special?
Stephanie Walker is an “extension vegetable specialist” at the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University. She’s like the Encyclopedia Brown of facts on hot peppers.
Here are a few of her facts on chilies:
- If you just bite into the tip of a very hot chili pepper and not into the placenta or vein, you won’t get any heat.
- Chili peppers and bell peppers are the exact same genus and species.
- The heat in chili peppers is not detected by birds.
- Chili pepper is used to feed flamingos in zoos to keep them pink.
- Chemicals from the peppers are put in paints to put on boats to keep barnacles from attaching to the sides.
Walker’s job is to study and grow chilies. She says New Mexico peppers get their special flavor from the state’s environment: high altitude, long seasons of heat and sunlight, hot days and — yes — “chilly” nights.