The Hatch Chile Store – From Farm to Table

The Hatch Chile Store Logo | mjskitchen.comRecently, my friend Su Anne and I had the privilege of traveling to Hatch chile country to explore the vast agriculture of the area, visit the The Hatch Chile Store and meet its owners – Preston and Elaine.  Preston and Elaine are young entrepreneurs who started The Hatch Chile Store because of their mutual love of green chile and the Hatch Valley in southern New Mexico.  Their family history in the Hatch Valley dates back over 5 generations which essentially means that Hatch chile is in their blood.  In just a few years time, they have put together a successful company that shares their love of chile with the rest of the world through an online shop. To learn more about Preston and Elaine and their business, check out these links:  Our Story and Our Team.

A field of chile in Hatch, New Mexico | mjskitchen.com

As part of our visit, Su Anne and I traveled through the Hatch Valley, a beautiful valley that runs along the Rio Grande from north of Hatch, New Mexico (NM), to Las Cruces, NM. We saw fields and fields of chile along with cotton, alfalfa, and hundreds of pecan groves.  The pictures below attempt to share our experience by taking you from the Hatch chile fields through the process of roasting and packaging chile at The Hatch Chile Store.  By placing an order online, you could have Hatch chile on your table in just a few days.

Because our visit was in mid-September, we witnessed the last of the green chile production and the beginning of the red chile.  The picture above is of a chile field just north of Hatch, NM.  It still had some green chile but most of it was being left on the plants to turn red.

Chile plants with red chile and some green chile turning red.

Hatch chile plant with red and green chile pods #hatchchile @mjskitchen

The day we visited these fields they were picking only red chile.  The pickers put the chile in burlap bags which are gathered, separated and later cleaned for production.  Red chile season is very short comparatively, so if you are interested in some fresh red chile, you can order it here, but you need to do it soon.  Or you can order red chile that has been roasted, peeled, packaged and frozen.

September is the start of red chile season in Hatch, New Mexico. @mjskitchen

 

Picking red chile in Hatch, New Mexico | mjskitchen.com

The day we visited The Hatch Chile Store it was working on the last of the season’s green chile. The end product of the day was roasted, peeled, and chopped green chile.  As you’ll see, it’s pretty much a manual process from start to finish.

The Process

Once sorted and cleaned the chile is brought into the production facility in large tubs.

The Hatch Chile Store sells Hatch chile roasted, peeled, chopped and packaged. #Hatchchile mjskitchen.com

(Click on any of the photos below to enlarge)

The Hatch Chile Store sells Hatch chile roasted, peeled, chopped and packaged. #Hatchchile @mjskitchen

When the end product is “chopped” chile, the stem and seed pods are removed prior to roasting the chile pod.

 

 

 

 

The Hatch Chile Store sells Hatch chile roasted, peeled, chopped and packaged. #Hatchchile @mjskitchen

The roaster is a long conveyor that moves the chile through a furnace where the chile is fired and roasted from above and below the conveyor, ensuring a complete roast of the whole pod.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hatch Chile Store sells Hatch chile roasted, peeled, whole or chopped, and packaged. #Hatchchile @mjskitchen

Once roasted, the chile pods are peeled and any remaining seeds, removed.

 

 

 

 

 

The Hatch Chile Store sells Hatch chile roasted, peeled, chopped and packaged. mjskitchen.com

Here is a batch of prepared chile ready for the chopper.  Can you imagine the smell of this facility with all the roasting and roasted chile?  About this time in our walk through I was craving “anything” smothered in green chile.

 

 

 

 

The Hatch Chile Store sells Hatch chile roasted, peeled, chopped and packaged. #Hatchchile @mjskitchen

Here this chile has been chopped and ready for packaging.  Broken equipment on the day we were there required the use of a manual chopper which is the device at the back of the picture.  More labor intensive, but still did a beautiful job in chopping the chile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After being chopped, the chile is manually weighed, packaged and vacuum sealed into 1 pound resealable packages.  The packages are then placed in a freezer where they are flash frozen and boxed for shipping.  Orders are shipped frozen, packed with frozen gel packs or dry ice in insulated containers.  Speaking from experience, the chile arrives frozen, ready to use or place in the freezer for later.

The Hatch Chile Store sells Hatch chile roasted, peeled, chopped and packaged. #Hatchchile @mjskitchen

A note about frozen, roasted chile – When the chile is thawed, it releases some of its water and you end up with a small amount of chile water in your package.  You can choose to drain it off and discard or, just add it to whatever you are cooking up.  Unless the chile is unpeeled, I just add the chile water to the dish.  It’s just tasty chile juice.

To see all of the products shipped by The Hatch Chile Store, check out its online store.  I have had the privilege of tasting both the medium Joe Parker green chile and the medium-hot Big Jim as well as the hot Sandia (both green and red).  If you are looking for a lot of flavor with just a hint of spicy, I would recommend the Joe Parker medium.  The Big Jim is a bit spicier, but not hot and great flavor. Both of these varieties of chile are meaty, and the whole pods make great rellenos.  If you want a chile with a lot of spice, then go for the Sandia hot. Again, great flavor with a lot of kick. AND, if you do get the hot and decide it’s too hot, you can always remove the veins from the inside of the chile pods before using.  The veins are where most of the heat is.

I’d like to thank Preston at The Hatch Chile Store for taking the time to share his chile preparation and packaging process with us.  You know you’ve walked into a good business when everyone is smiling and graciously shares what they are doing. It may be a small business but his employees package A LOT of chile, several pounds of which were graciously sent home with me and Su Anne.  Thank you Hatch Chile Store for everything you do to bring a taste of New Mexico to so many tables!

 

Below are some of the dishes that I’ve made in the past, specifically, with Hatch chile from The Hatch Chile Store.  You’ll be seeing many more recipes throughout the year.

Green chile chicken soup with mushrooms and corn mjskitchen.com

Green Chile Chicken Mushroom Soup

 

 

 

 

Green chile stacked with crepes (Pathiri), pine nuts (pinon) and queso fresco. mjskitchen.com @MJsKitchen

Green Chile Pathiri – layers of Hatch chile, toasted pinon, and queso fresco

 

 

 

 

A healthier version of the blooming onion - Baked Hatch chile blooming onion with cheese #Hatch #chile #onion @mjskitchen

Blooming Onion with Hatch Chile and Cheese

 

 

 

 

A hearty one pot meal with navy beans and green chile, corn, tomatoes and a host of other goodness. mjskitchen.com

Navy Beans, Hatch Chile and Corn

 

 

 

 

Index of all of MJ’s Green Chile Recipes

Index of all of MJ’s Red Chile Recipes

Disclaimer I received no monetary compensation for this post, just a few pounds of Hatch chile.  All of the opinions, pictures and words expressed here are my own.

 

Parting Shot – The Organ Mountains

As with all of New Mexico, the scenery of the Hatch Valley and its surrounding area is breathtaking.  These are the Organ Mountains that run north-south just east of Las Cruces.  This shot was taken at sunset off Hwy 185, about halfway between Las Cruces and Hatch.

Sunset on the Organ Mountains in Las Cruces, New Mexico | mjskitchen.com

If you are ever in this part of the country, be sure to drive north on Hwy 185 from Las Cruces to Hatch, then north on 187.  This time of year is especially beautiful with all of the planted and producing fields, and the endless pecan orchards.  This area is just more evidence of why New Mexico is The Land of Enchantment.

 

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34 Responses to “The Hatch Chile Store – From Farm to Table”

  1. John/Kitchen Riffs October 9, 2017 at 9:22 am #

    Cool post! LOVE Hatch chilies, and I’ve dealt with the Hatch Chile Store before — they’re good people. Fun read — thanks.

    • mj October 10, 2017 at 10:58 am #

      Thanks John! Yes, it was really nice meeting Preston and Elaine. VERY NICE people. I was quite impressed with their enthusiasm and love of what they are doing with the store.

  2. Reese October 6, 2017 at 12:06 pm #

    Such a fun educational tour! Mouth water by looking at the chile production. Lots of good stuff to make with. I just bookmarked your green chili chicken mushroom soup. I NEED to make this sometime soon. Totally doable over the weekend:)

    • mj October 6, 2017 at 3:40 pm #

      Thanks so much Reese! You know, having lived in New Mexico for over 40 years, it made be realize once again, that you can always learn something new. 🙂 Hope you enjoy the soup!!!

  3. Karen (Back Road Journal) October 6, 2017 at 8:01 am #

    That had to be such a very interesting visit. I know you must have come back really inspired for future recipes with some of those chilies.

    • mj October 6, 2017 at 3:39 pm #

      Oh yes – it was a very inspiring trip in many ways! Thanks Karen!

  4. Abbe@This is How I Cook October 5, 2017 at 9:13 pm #

    You are the chile queen. Preston does do good chilies! The night before we left for Texas I was peeling my bushel of chilies. They are safely in the freezer and I know they will disappear fast!

    • mj October 6, 2017 at 3:38 pm #

      Thanks Abbe! So glad you got your chile from The Hatch Chile Store. They do produce good chile and take such great care of it in the processing. Hope things are improving for your family down there in Houston.

  5. Katerina October 5, 2017 at 3:39 am #

    Knowing your love for peppers i think you found your paradise! What a tour!

    • mj October 6, 2017 at 3:36 pm #

      You got that right! Thanks Katerina!

  6. Alyce Morgan October 4, 2017 at 5:22 pm #

    Really enjoyed your Hatch post. I was just posting a Beef Green Chile Stew with Butternut squash and was looking for some good chile info to include. Hope you don’t mind if I link to this post! Happy fall, Alyce (Colorado Springs, Colorado food blogger)

    • mj October 6, 2017 at 3:36 pm #

      Thank you so much Alyce! And YES, please do link to this post! I’ll check out yours and share as well.

  7. Raymund Macaalay October 4, 2017 at 1:15 am #

    I never seen a chilli plantation in my life, this is such an eye opener.

    • mj October 6, 2017 at 3:34 pm #

      Thanks Raymund! In the southwest, they are called chile farms and some consists of hundreds of acres. It’s pretty breathtaking.

  8. Sissi October 3, 2017 at 10:41 am #

    Wow! What a dream journey! I wish I could visit a chile producer too… Thank you for all the detailed information. Now I know what to sow next spring! In comparison to those on the photographs, the chile I buy from Turkish stalls on my market is not that meaty.. much skinner, so it means more works and lower yield. It’s still better than nothing! I shouldn’t complain because they sell it very cheap, probably due to the interest (if I lived in heat-hating France I’d pay it 5 times more probably; people buy chile buy pieces there not by kilos!).

    • mj October 6, 2017 at 3:33 pm #

      Sissi, you would have loved this while trip! You were have been in awe, as I was, to see field after field of producing chile plants. And every time we stepped out of the car, you could smell roasting chiles. The meaty chiles are my favorite which means the Big Jim and joe Parker. I would be more than happy to send you some seeds. I know I can find Big Jim seeds so I’ll pick some up for you.

      Heat hating France – that’s interesting. But now that you mention it, you never seen spicy ingredients in French food. But then even here in the US, there are areas that prefer a rather bland, non spicy food – IMO. Although, there are a lot of spiceheads out there trying to change things. 🙂

      • Sissi October 14, 2017 at 1:42 pm #

        Dear MJ, thank you so much for the kind offer!
        Heat hating French drive me crazy! (They are also often judgmental: spicy food is not just different, but “simply worse”… so almost no one tries to be brave and eat spicy food). Here in Switzerland the traditional food is bland too, but there are many adventurous people or people who like travelling while they eat food and who start liking spicy food, so I have more chances to eat something spicy in Switzerland.

        • mj October 15, 2017 at 11:13 am #

          Here in the US, it’s the midwest that eats the least amount of spicy foods from my knowledge. There is no problem finding spicy in the southern or border regions, but the middle of the country is another matter. Probably another reason why I don’t live there. 🙂

  9. Amy (Savory Moments) October 3, 2017 at 5:02 am #

    Wow what a fun trip and tour! I know you always come up with some many delicious and creative ways to use chiles.

    • mj October 3, 2017 at 12:05 pm #

      Thanks Amy!

  10. Anna @ shenANNAgans September 29, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

    What a great trip. It’s always fun and so educational to visit places where produce is grown, this trip sounded so fantastic, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a chilli farm. Those roasted chillies sound pretty good.

    • mj October 2, 2017 at 10:15 am #

      Thanks Anna! Isn’t great traveling to new places through others. That’s why I love your blog. 🙂

  11. Kelly Mulcair September 28, 2017 at 12:19 pm #

    Well what a cool trip! The roasted green chile looks *so* good. Yes, I can imagine the smell and I wonder too whether it gets into your eyes at all (sometimes when I work with chile there’s a little zing – not full tearing like onion but something going on there – all part of the love ;d). I really appreciate learning about the process, it’s amazing the manual effort that goes into the preparation start to finish. Thank you for the link (I think I may have to order!). Your photos really tell the story MJ (and I also get a sense of the ambient heat) — what a smashing sunset!

    • mj September 29, 2017 at 10:48 am #

      Thank you so much Kelly! It was a cool trip! I’ve been to southern New Mexico many time, but have never taken to time to tour the agriculture this time of year. It was beautiful and eye-opener. It wasn’t just the amount of chile that was growing, it was also the pecan orchards. Old ones and new ones everywhere! I can see how we’re number 2 in pecan production.

      As far as the chile smell affecting the eyes, that wasn’t a problem and I don’t remember it ever being a problem for me even when I roast my own chile on the grill. It does get in the throat however, and produce a nagging cough.

      The amount of manual labor that went into the whole production was an eye opener for me. I personally know how laborious it is to do my own, but I had assume some type of mass producing for commercial sales. I guess it’s too delicate of a product plus I can’t see how they could peel it except manually. Made me appreciate the cost of package chile more. 🙂 I do hope you do order. I love seeing young couples taking such a huge leap of faith so I’d like to support them as much as possible. I have some friends that will be getting a spicy holiday gift this year. 🙂

  12. Jerry P September 27, 2017 at 4:07 pm #

    Good thing I wasn’t around the pickup with the red chile, or I’d be tempted to steal the truck. I would return the truck of course.

    In Los Angeles, we’re lucky that some larger markets carry Hatch chile. and I did buy several pounds. But you being at the source makes me a bit jealous. I’m not envious of cars, houses, or vacations, but being in Hatch country is a different story.

    • mj September 27, 2017 at 7:50 pm #

      Believe me…I was tempted as well.:) I love both red and green, but I do have to admit that I’m partial to the red, but fresh and roasted, and dried and turned into a sauce. Of course, I would NEVER turn down a green chile stew or anything smothered in green chile. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by Jerry!

  13. Angie@Angie's Recipes September 27, 2017 at 12:22 pm #

    I don’t think I have ever seen so many chilies in my life…what a great experience!

    • mj September 27, 2017 at 7:48 pm #

      And this was just little bit of chile. You should have seen all of the fields and the chile still on the plants. There was A LOT of chile down there. Thanks!

  14. Deb|EastofEdenCooking September 27, 2017 at 11:39 am #

    What a fabulous trip! New Mexico is such a wonderful state and Hatch chilies are so much part of the culinary scene. Wanting to visit again, soon!

    • mj September 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm #

      It was a great trip. Thanks Deb!

  15. Kathy T September 27, 2017 at 11:21 am #

    I love your blog/website. We are originally from New Mexico and after many years are moving back when my husband retires to the Las Cruces area. Can’t wait to be close to those chile fields again!

    • mj September 27, 2017 at 7:46 pm #

      Thank you so much Kathy for your comment! I bet you’re thrilled be moving back. I’d find it very hard to leave. Have a safe move home!

  16. Jan Cook September 27, 2017 at 10:49 am #

    Loved the tour! Did you bring back any of the red chile? I can’t wait to see what you’ll be cooking up next with the green and/or red chile!

    • mj September 27, 2017 at 7:45 pm #

      Thanks Jan! I didn’t bring back any fresh red, but I did bring back some roasted, peeled red Sandia Hot. I’ll be picking up some fresh red next week and roasting them, then I should be set for the year in chile. Now I just need to find room in the freezer. 🙂

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