Behold the chile! Its sweet, sweet heat is why New Mexicans get up in the morning. As summer draws to a close, we gear up for chile season. It’s simply the best time of the year. Here’s why:
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1. Chile is New Mexico's favorite vegetable (or fruit if you're picky).
New Mexico has two official state vegetables, the chile and the pinto bean. However, we all agree that chile is the real favorite, right? Botanically speaking a chile pepper is a fruit. In the culinary world, it is considered a vegetable. We just consider it delicious.
2. Chile season is the magical time when chiles leave the field and get ready for the table.
Every year almost 8,000 to 10,000 acres of chile are harvested in New Mexico. As well as our beloved New Mexican-style chiles, did you know New Mexico also grow cayenne, paprika, and jalapeños peppers?
3. You will be able to find fresh chiles aplenty at the store.
It's great having chiles in the grocery store. However, watch out! Not all of them are from Hatch, or even New Mexico. Colorado thinks they have good green chile too. Sometimes they sneak some down.
4. Chiles will be for sale along the road.
Serious New Mexicans buy chile by the sack. As a bonus, when buying by the bag, you can get them roasted right on the spot.
5. You can buy as much chile as you want; a bushel or even a sack or two.
Do you know how to pick a pepper? Look for firm, smooth peppers. Wrinkles and soft spots are red flags. If you wrap unwashed chiles in a paper towel and put them in a baggy, they should last about two weeks in the fridge.
6. Watching chiles roast never gets old.
Watching chiles roast is a bucket list experience! Maybe you have seen it done, but there is a special pride in watching
your chiles in the roasting hopper.
7. Buckets of roasted chile will be ready for your stews, enchiladas, burgers and burritos.
Perhaps it's a good thing that the chiles shrink a bit during roasting. Can you imagine how many freezers you would need to store a 30 to 40-pound sack if they didn't?
8. The smell of chiles roasting is amazing.
Some days it seems like the whole town smells like roasting chile. As the chiles roast, the capsaicin (the "hot" chemical) heats up and undergoes a chemical change. That mouthwatering smell is one result.
9. You get to dodge burnt chile chaff.
If you have never seen a sack roasted, you haven't experienced it all -- the roaring propane, the smell tickling your nose and throat, or the bits of burnt pepper peel wafting in the air.
10. It's time to fire up your grill.
Even if you get a bag roasted, you need some fresh peppers to throw on the grill. They fit nicely right next to the burgers and sausages.
11. It's a time for family and friends.
In New Mexico food means family. Traditionally, it takes everyone to plant, grow and harvest. Then, there is peeling and preparation. Luckily, that means we all get to eat too.
12. It's a time for festivals.
Hatch holds the big Labor Day festival. Then there is the Wine and Chile affair in Santa Fe. But you don't need a band to make it a festival. We know some of you do just fine with food, friends and a boom box, right in the back yard.
13. You can prove your manhood with chile-eating contests.
Tell 'em what they won, Bob! Yes, for downing more chile than the next guy (and it is usually all guys) you win more chile. Plus, you get free heartburn and a memorable experience -- usually the next day in the john.
14. You find out you
didn't forget how to peel chile.
Are you a peel and de-seed person, or do you just take off the skin and call it good? Any peel and chop folks out there? Or maybe you just throw them in the freezer and deal with it later?
15. You remember how it feels to get chile in your eyes.
Gloves, people! It doesn't make you a wimp. Peeling and cooking chiles aside, did you know that even washing or cutting chile causes the capsaicin molecules to fly around?
16. You can laugh at your cousin who gets chile in his eyes (or on his privates).
Every year, it's the same person, right?
17. You can re-stock the freezer.
Someday, a store will catch on and sell chile by offering free freezer bags with a 35-pound chile purchase.
18. You can ship chile to your less fortunate, out-of-state friends.
If you don't want to wait at the post office, there are companies that will ship chile in whatever form you have -- red, green, fresh, frozen or turned into stew.
19. Best of all -- You get to eat chile!
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