Chimayó And Hatch — A Taste of 2 Great Chiles

In many restaurants in New Mexico, the server might ask about your sauce preference — red or green? Your response might vary depending on your familiarity with New Mexico, whether you’re a visitor or a long-term inhabitant. We can help you out with this decision. It usually gets down to a Hatch chile sauce or a Chimayó sauce.

Red or Green Chiles — Exploring the Variations:

The primary distinctions between these chiles are their stage of ripeness and level of heat. Green chiles that are left on the vine will ripen and eventually turn red. Red chiles tend to be sweeter and due to extended ripening time and higher capsaicin content, the element that gives them their heat.

Nonetheless, the ability of a green chile to mature into a red one doesn’t mean that all chile peppers are interchangeable or that they will transform into the same kind of red chile. In New Mexico, “green chile peppers” commonly refers to those harvested in Hatch, situated in the state’s southern area, whereas “red chile peppers” are often Chimayó peppers, cultivated around the Chimayó area in the north. These are separate varieties of the same Capsicum annuum species.

What sets apart a Hatch chile pepper from a Chimayó chile pepper, be it red or green? Similar to the real estate market, it’s all about location, location, location.

Hatch Chile Peppers

In Hatch, New Mexico, the conditions are optimal for growing chile peppers. This area’s high elevation, warm days, cool evenings, and rich volcanic soil, which was once part of the Rio Grande River’s floodplain, combine to produce chile peppers with a unique flavor, earning Hatch fame for its namesake chiles.

Typically, Hatch chiles are harvested in their green state. The fall season in New Mexico brings with it the enticing smell of chiles being roasted. Occasionally, Hatch chiles are allowed to ripen into striking red chiles, which are then hung on ristras to dry naturally on the eaves of traditional adobe homes. However, the most esteemed red chiles in New Mexico are the Chimayó chile peppers.

You can order Chimayó chile powder or crushed peppers anytime from Performance Maintenance Incorporated (PMI).

Performance Maintenance ristra

Chimayó Chile Peppers

A 275-mile journey north from Hatch leads to the small village of Chimayó, a community of just over 3,000 residents and the birthplace of one of the rarest chile peppers in existence. The special combination of local weather, fertile soil, and the clear, crisp water from the snowmelt of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains creates an ideal setting for growing Chimayó chiles. Seeds from these chiles, when sown in different locations, fail to produce peppers with the same distinct flavor as those cultivated in Chimayó.

Located in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, this dry terrain yields chiles that naturally dry in the sun and exhibit a wrinkled texture. In contrast to the typically green-harvested Hatch chiles, Chimayó chiles ripen fully and are commonly dried on ristras. Their complex taste features an earthy background, smoky tones, and a hint of sweetness, which is atypical for chiles.

For more than four centuries, the seeds of Chimayó chiles have been a family heirloom, passed down across generations. These chiles are what’s known as landrace chiles, inherently tied to their geographical origins. Given that only about 500 acres are used for growing Chimayó chiles, they are hard to find, especially beyond New Mexico’s borders.

Authentic Chimayó chiles require seeds from Chimayó and must be grown in the same area. The scarcity of these chiles each year makes them quite valuable. The advantage is that chile powder, even in smaller amounts, can last a long time, and smaller packages are generally accessible.

A great place to get Chimayó chile powder or crushed Chimayó peppers is from Performance Maintenance Incorporated (PMI).

Red or Green — Which is Hotter?Performance maintenance chile powder

The “hotness” of a chile is assessed on the Scoville scale. Chimayó chiles score in the medium heat range, with a rating of 4,000 to 6,000 Scoville units. Hatch chiles, on the other hand, are milder, scoring between 1,500 and 2,500 units on this scale. By comparison, bell peppers are almost negligible on the Scoville scale, while habanero peppers soar between 200,000 and 350,000 units. Therefore, neither Hatch nor Chimayó chiles will excessively heat your palate, but they do contribute a delightful zest to dishes like enchilada sauce.

Remember, Hatch chile peppers are just one type of green chile. Other green chiles, such as Jalapeño and Serrano, are harvested green and can be much hotter than the common varieties of Hatch green peppers. In fact, certain chiles classified as Hatch can rival the heat of habanero peppers. Hence, the choice between red or green chiles can be more complex than it seems.

Restaurants are not aiming to scorch your taste buds. If you’re hesitant about the spiciness, servers can typically provide guidance, and most restaurants are happy to serve small samples of each sauce option.

Go here to read about going green in the workplace or at home.

How to Answer the Red or Green Question

Your choice between red or green sauce while dining in New Mexico might be influenced by the region you are in. Hatch chiles, for instance, are a staple in the southern parts of the state, whereas the northern regions tend to favor red Chimayó chiles on their menus. If the decision between red or green seems challenging, you can go for “Christmas enchiladas,” which give you the best of both worlds with a mix of red and green sauce.

Wherever you live, you can order Chimayó peppers or ground powder from Performance Maintenance Incorporated (PMI) anytime.

Story Sponsored by Performance Maintenance Incorporated (PMI)

Performance Maintenance Incorporated logo

Posted by

Featured Businesses