Hatch green chile season is basically a three-month celebration (during the summer!) in the revered pepper’s home state of New Mexico. And even if you can’t physically visit the state, where the smell of flame-roasted chiles wafts around nearly every corner, you can bring the taste of the Hatch Valley home to you. Yes, it’s possible to purchase fresh, flash-frozen, or roasted Hatch green chile from a number of online retailers — we’ll tell you how.
First, What Are Hatch Green Chiles?
Hatch green chiles are grown in the fertile Hatch Valley in New Mexico, a region which is sometimes referred to as “the Napa Valley of green chile.” This particular long, green pepper is a distant cousin to the Anaheim pepper, but with much more flavor and a wider heat spectrum.
“Part of what makes them so unique are the growing conditions only available here in the Hatch Valley,” says Taylor Grace Mitchell, vice president of operations at the Hatch Chile Store. “Our scorching dry summer days, cool summer nights, and incredible soil all contribute to that unique taste of Hatch green chile.”
How Do I Know If My Hatch Green Chiles Are Authentic?
Unfortunately, due to the pepper’s coveted reputation around the country, fraud is a huge issue for Hatch chile growers. “We see chile from Mexico, Colorado, Texas, and California marketed as ‘Hatch’ green chile when it isn’t.” Mitchell says. “The only true Hatch green chile is grown in the Hatch Valley in New Mexico.”
To address this issue, back in 2016, Hatch Chile Association, a group of Hatch Valley farmers and businesspeople, created a certification mark for Hatch green chile products. The association is also continuing the legal fight to trademark the Hatch name, which would limit its use to products grown in the Hatch Valley. “We recommend that consumers check for the symbol to make sure they are getting authentic Hatch green chile,” Mitchell says.
How Can I Buy Hatch Green Chiles?
If you’re looking to buy fresh Hatch green chiles, the summer picking season is the time to do it. The Hatch Chile Store starts accepting pre-orders as early as January and offers a 15% discount for pre-orders.
“We typically start harvesting fresh Hatch green chile around the end of July or beginning of August,” Mitchell said. “[The harvest season] ends as soon as we get a cold snap, which is usually around early October. But never fear! We also sell roasted Hatch green chile and jarred Hatch green chile year-round.”
“Given the brevity of the season and the hyper-concentrated geographic availability, most Hatch chile is flash-frozen to preserve its freshness — even in New Mexico,” says Rob Holland, executive chairman of 505 Southwestern. “The lifespan of fresh roasted chile is short, so even those able to buy fresh usually freeze the bulk of it and defrost the chiles throughout the year.”
505 Southwestern offers a number of Hatch green chile products year-round, which include jarred flame-roasted chile, salsas, and sauces. “Our chile goes from farm to freezer in three hours and tastes incredibly fresh all year-round,” Holland said. “We never use any water and we package our products in glass jars so you can see the texture and the quality.”