It’s an exciting day when that box of fresh green Fresh Chile Co. Hatch Chile arrives. Beautiful bright green, fresh and crisp, smooth and heavy for their size.
Those treasures are fresh and ready! They will try to turn red and ripen, the shrivel and get tough. They need to be roasted and used, frozen or canned while they are at their peak.
Chile peppers tough protective outer skin is difficult to chew and digest. It is not something you want to find in your favorite dish at mealtime. Roasting and blistering makes the skin easy to remove.
We’re used to seeing and smelling chiles roasting in rotating drums over gas flames during the harvest season. We can buy our chiles already roasted and take them home. Some of us like to roast them ourselves. We might even have small roasters for use at home. For newcomers or small batch chile roasters, there are different ways to roast: under your oven broiler, on your stove top over a wire mesh, on your charcoal or gas grill outside, and even in your microwave.
Before roasting prep yourself and your chiles. Remember that oils in chiles can irritate your skin. You can put a light coat of solid shortening on your hands or wear rubber gloves for protection. While working your chiles,do not touch your eyes, or your bare skin or the skin of others without washing your hands thoroughly. If you do get chile burn, put your hands in regular vinegar to help relive the burning sensation.
Prep your chile for roasting by washing and drying the pods. Make a small slit in the side of the pepper to lets steam escape during roasting so your chile won’t pop. Your heat source needs to be very hot. Watch your chile during roasting and turn it frequently to get even blistering including in the creases of the pods. Don’t let your chile get scorched. Roast the chiles in a single layer at least 6 to 8 minutes. You’ll see the skin begin to loosen on the peppers as they roast.
When the skins are evenly blistered (there will be a some black char on them, you have options. You can steam then in a covered dish or plastic bag to get softer, more cooked chiles. You can also plunge the hot chiles in an ice water bath or let them air cool in a single layer for a firmer chile. Fresh Chile Co. chiles go straight from the roaster into a cold water bath which makes our the texture of our chile products extra special.
If you are roasting chiles in your oven or under your broiler, the temperature should be 400° -450°. Place your chiles in a single layer on your pan.
On your stove top, place your chiles on a heavy wire mesh over a hot electric or gas burner. The mesh will prevent your peppers from sticking to the burner.
Roast your chiles on a charcoal grill about 5-6 inches above glowing coals; your gas grill should be at 400° - 450°.
In your microwave, use a microwave-safe dish with a secure air-tight lid so steam will built up. Microwave 7-8 minutes on the rotating plate in the oven. Microwave power levels vary among brands and models. Lower wattage ovens may take longer than more powerful ovens. When the cycle is complete, let the dish sit 1-2 minutes to allow steam to build up. Remember to be very careful when opening the lid because steam will be released. Microwaved chiles will not be blistered, their cooked skin will be tougher and brittle compared to the skin of raw chiles.
The skin of your roasted chiles should peel off easily. If a bit of skin didn’t get blistered, it can be gently scrapped off with a small kitchen knife or vegetable peeler. Any bits of char can be rinsed off.
Roasted chiles should be refrigerated within two hours of roasting. They may be kept in the refrigerator and should be used within three days.
Roasted chiles can be frozen peeled or unpeeld. They peel easily when they are thawed for use. Frozen chiles should be used within a year. Pack your chiles in freezer bags or shallow freezer containers. Remove as much air from bags as possible to reduce surface chrystalization. Cool packages of chiles in an ice bath or in the refrigerator before placing in he freezer. Freeze the packages in a single layer, then stack for storage when they are frozen solid.
As wonderful as the smell of roasting chile is, there is an alternative to home roasting and freezing. We’ll do it for you. You can order roasted, peeled and frozen Hatch chiles of the heat level you like from Fresh Chile Co. during the late summer and fall and receive them in after the harvest. Information is on our website at freshchileco.com. Quantities will be limited so order early.