Hatch chile

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Chile pods on display in a market

Hatch chile refers to varieties of species of the genus Capsicum which are grown in the Hatch Valley, an area stretching north and south along the Rio Grande from Arrey, New Mexico, in the north to Tonuco Mountain to the south of Hatch, New Mexico. The soil and growing conditions in the Hatch Valley create a unique terroir[1] which contributes to the flavor of chile grown there. Most of the varieties of chile cultivated in the Hatch Valley have been developed at New Mexico State University over the last 130 years.

Though only chile grown in this Valley is considered "Hatch", the chile growing industry is extremely important to the economy of New Mexico as a whole.[2] Not only is the industry important economically, it is also a prominent part of New Mexican culture. It is the official state vegetable (though it is actually a fruit till harvest) and the official state question is "Red or Green?".[3]

When ripe, pods are typically harvested either in the mature green stage or mature red stage, although some varieties may turn yellow, orange, or brown.[4] New Mexican cultivars range in heat from very mild varieties such as NM 6-4 to varieties which are much spicier than jalapeños, such as Big Jim, NuMex Barker, or Lumbre.

Hatch chile can be purchased locally in many parts of the Southwest, and is distributed throughout the United States by companies such as, World Variety Produce. If you are unable to find them in a local grocery store, you could also source them direct from farms online such as the Hatch Chile Express[5] or the Hatch Chile Store.[6] Other distributors sometimes use the "Hatch" name, but do not actually grow and process their chile in the Hatch Valley.[7] In an effort to protect Hatch growers and other New Mexican growers, a law passed in New Mexico in 2012 makes it illegal for chile to be labeled as "New Mexican" if it was not grown in New Mexico.[8]

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