Right now you could walk into any grocery store in town and there would be a sign proclaiming that they were selling 25lb bags of Hatch chiles and what days the free roasting was happening in the parking lots. 25lbs of chile! What exactly would one do with 25lbs of chile? It is my understanding, as I have been told by people who live here, that most locals have freezers that are dedicated to their chile. By June most are in the rationing stage, waiting for the harvest to come in so that they can restock. Okay, that I can understand, because I usually stock up on around 20lbs of Michigan Blueberries every summer and by about June I am rationing my last few containers. But Chile? It’s not like you can eat it on granola!
I went to my knitting group and one of the women explained the differences between the chiles to me and what to do with them. There are the big greens, these are the most common around here. They are roasted and mostly frozen or stuffed with cheese right off the grill. YUM! She explained how to roast and freeze them. I just have to say any process that involves my grill and beer. Well, I am in! Did I mention how good they smell roasting?
Then there are the red chile. Which, I have to say look just like the green, only they are red. Probably because they are the same chile only older and have turned red. Which is exactly what she told me. These are mostly seen strung in ristras. They are generally dried. However, when fresh they are called “wet red”. I find this all very cool.
So armed with my new knowledge of peppers and a chile head for a husband, I made my way down to the farm market. There are chiles everywhere. I found a vendor tucked away who has bags smaller than 25lbs, because lets face it my kids have not yet developed their love of the chile and there is only so much my husband and I can eat. I am also still a bit afraid of the peppers I must admit. I ended up with a bag of green, a bag of red and some really fun yellow peppers that look like jalapenos only they are yellow. He gave me a few pointers, having figured out that I am most definitely a gringa and have NO IDEA what I am going to do with these once I get them home!
I decided to make some pepper jam or pepper relish as the recipe calls it. I am no novice to jam making and my husband not so subtly emailed me a pepper jam recipe the other day. It called for jalapenos I figured that I could substitute the chiles without a problem. I remembered to wear my gloves, however half way through I had to go find something to wear over my mouth and nose, the pepper fumes were getting to me! As usual the recipe ended up making just a bit more than the 6 cups it said, so I tried it out. WOW! It was really good with only a bit of a kick. I used all three of the peppers in that batch and am now planning on using mostly the green and the yellow jalapenos for a second batch.
The rest of the green and red peppers were roasted on the grill. I put the green in plastic bags for the freezer and was planning on skinning the reds and pureeing them right away. I got about half of them blended and then my husband suggested that I freeze them the way I did with the green. You roast them and then freeze them with the skins on. When you take them out, the skins peel right off and you can use them in your recipes. I am glad that I stopped when I did because I did not put on gloves when I was skinning the rosted red chile and my hands are still on fire!!!! I am kind of worried about getting my contacts out tonight!