At The Fresh Chile Company in Las Cruces, New Mexico, we take the Summer Solstice very seriously. In the year 2023, the Summer Solstice be at 8:57 a.m. MDT on Wednesday, June 21st. That is when the Sun, worldwide, is over the Tropic of Cancer, the most northernly circle of latitude on Earth at which the Sun can be directly overhead. Why is this important?
On this date, the first solstice of the year, the daylight hours will begin to get shorter, but most importantly, as it is every year, it signals that we are on the verge of Harvest time for the Hatch Chile crop.
In the Hatch Valley of New Mexico, The Chile Capital of the World, young Chile Plants and Chile Farmers are getting excited because in a few weeks it will be time for picking and roasting Green Chile. We can hardly wait for the air to fill with that wonderful smell.
Hatch Chile is special. It is about this place, soil type, water, climate, sunlight, angle of the sun… all the things which affect plant growth and ultimately the extraordinary Chile flavor. Over eons of time the Hatch Valley has been under oceans, the site of volcanoes, the rising and falling of mountains and the flow of rivers. Today the valley is blessed with soil and climate ideal for agriculture.
In the modern era, channelization and dams along the Rio Grande have created a beneficial water resource that, with ground water, supports Chile, pecans, onions, and others seasonal crops. Farmers have learned good management techniques to keep the soil rich in nutrients for their crops.
The Fresh Chile Company partners with Hatch Valley farmers who grow a number of Chile varieties. Know this: there are very good Chile flavors of the various Chile Peppers that range from mild to turn your face red and break into a sweat heat levels.
We call it Heat Taste along with Chile Pepper Taste. Each is distinctive and part of a great Chile experience. Importantly, after the Heat Taste comes the Chile Heat afterglow, like a distance runner’s high.
You can choose your heat level in green Chiles during the harvest season and or year ‘round from among sauces, salsas and jarred roasted Chiles, in Green and Red options. Some of the Chiles are harvested green, others are left to ripen and dry on the bush. On-the-bush-dried-Chile is darker and has a deeper flavor than mechanically dried Chile pods. That makes a difference you can both see and taste in their specialty sauces.
The Fresh Chile Co. offers a broad range of products and an ever-expanding selection of recipes, both from us in our Fresh Chile Recipes and from our amazingly loyal customers in our Customer Recipes, and how to videos for Roasting Hatch Chile on our website making it easy to enjoy Hatch Valley Chile from the fields in Hatch, New Mexico to your table. Here is to good taste.
Written by Michael Swickard, Ph.D.