Enchanting Stories of New Mexico - Episode 21 - The Chile Harvest Heatwave

Welcome to the Fresh Chile Company Podcast - Enchanting Stories of New Mexico. Tune in to listen to all things New Mexico Chile, and other enchanting facts about New Mexico.
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Episode 21 - The Chile Harvest Heatwave

Michael Swickard here. Welcome to Enchanting Stories of New Mexico, sponsored by the Fresh Chile Company in Las Cruces, N M. Our award-winning Hatch Green and Red Chile is brought to you from locally owned farms in Hatch, NM, The Chile Capital of the World.

For us who work with Green and Red Chile, this is the best time of the year. Why Michael? Because we are in the harvest season of Hatch Chile, and we are heading for the Hatch Chile Festival from September first to the third this year. It is more fun than golly, it is more fun than anything else in Southern New Mexico. And it is tasty. Green and Red Chile are tasty.

A little history: the first Hatch Chile Festival was in 1972, 51 years ago, and I remember it since, as a news person, I was covering it. What do I remember? Not a great number of people that first year, but they were very enthusiastic about Hatch Chile and good friends. It was lots of fun and a nice drive and some great Chile and some very nice people. It was before the Hatch Chamber of Commerce got involved, so it was a few Chile enthusiasts with some food on some saw-horse tables and lots of people who knew each other. It is odd that that same year I was at the First Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, which was in February of 1972, but I really remember the 1973 balloon fiesta for the fact that the takeoff from the Albuquerque Fairgrounds, which was just a short balloon flight from the super-secret stuff at the Kirtland and Manzano base. The security forces were not impressed, and the takeoff area was moved to the valley where there was little chance of landing on the military base.

So the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and the Hatch Chile Festival are both a treasure of New Mexico. Of the two I have spent far more time at the various Hatch Chile Festivals. While I may have had a balloon or two over the years, balloons say Happy Birthday, every day in my house there has been Hatch Chile. For much of the time over the years it was frozen Chile that I got fire-roasted and then put in my freezer so that in the cold winds of winter I could make Green Chile Stew that would make my eyes water with delight. I enjoy the Fresh Chile Company jars of Chile so much. How much? I don’t put up frozen Chile any longer, I am very happy with the jars. And especially this year with Verital Reserve Big Jim 2023 which I have used on an egg omelet and on hash browns. Both were great. I love Big Jim Chile.

I will talk on these podcasts more about the Hatch Chile Festival which starts three week from today. I am looking forward to seeing friends and family this year. I understand a very famous Cowboy Chef, Kent Rollins, will be there doing as he does, making some delicious things to eat and telling lots of stories that make us all laugh.

Kent was born and raised along the banks of the Red River near Hollis, Oklahoma. Growing up, and throughout his adulthood, Kent helped his father manage cow/calf operations in the area while also taking care of their own herd.

At the beginning of Kent's cooking career, he spent time with his uncle guiding and feeding hunters deep in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico. From there he bought a chuck wagon in 1993 and began cooking for ranches and soon expanded into catering and then into television and being enjoyed by a vast number of people who watch his television show and see him when he is at Festivals like the Hatch Chile Festival.

I will talk more about Kent and the other attractions at this year’s Hatch Chile Festival in coming podcasts. The Fresh Chile Company, including myself, will be there. Come by and take a look at some of our 2023 Chile products.

Speaking about weather, this Chile growing season is hotter than normal. The Hatch Valley Chile Farmers live a somewhat challenging life when it comes to the weather. They already had a bout of hailstones a few weeks ago which did some damage but did not destroy their crops since Chile plants are resilient.

What the extra hot did was cause the Chile Pepper plants that were started early and transplanted into the fields to mature sooner than expected. This is not really a bad thing, just it was not planned this way. By the Chile maturing early, the Chile Farmers were able to start the Chile Harvest early which is good. Now there has been some of what is called Heat Stress and the farmers are working through that challenge.

Good news. If you use the checkout code Podcast15 you get 15% off your order this week.

Speaking of Good Chile, this last week the Fresh Chile Company is processing Sandia Select, a tasty hot Green Chile in a 16-ounce jar. There is a smile every time you open one of these jars. When you want your food to be as hot as the weather, Sandia Select is a good choice.

Michael Swickard here with Enchanting Stories of New Mexico sponsored by the Fresh Chile Company in Las Cruces, N M. Hit subscribe to automatically get these podcasts.

Fishing in New Mexico – the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is offering Angler Education Fishing Clinics that offer basic fishing-skills clinics for school kids, families, community and civic groups. Go to their website for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish to enjoy one of these clinics. Now, out-of-state anglers must purchase an annual fishing license, a one-day license or a five-day license. The fishing license in New Mexico is April 1- March 31. The license is not required for 11-year-olds and younger. You can get a license online at the New Mexico Game and Fish website. 70 years of age or older your fishing license is free. If you have a fish for dinner and use the Fresh Chile Company products to enhance it, take a picture and post it and recipe on the Fresh Chile Company Facebook page.

An interesting aspect of New Mexico was in a discussion I had about New Mexico’s mining heritage. A hundred twenty years ago the way people made money concentrated on ranching, farming, the railroads and mining with mining being the most volatile.

There has been vast areas of New Mexico focused on mining such as Gold Mining in several areas like White Oaks and the Black Range including Hillsborough, the name of which was shortened in spelling to Hillsboro and several other nearby areas. Silver mining in Silver City and Lordsburg and then a cornucopia of other metals such as copper, lead, silver, and gold.

And at that time someone with plenty of desire to work hard could get a nice amount of money if they paid attention and worked hard.

There is something you need to know about gold mining: there is lode gold and placer gold. What’s the difference Michael? Lode gold is what the prospectors find. They find a couple stones of gold that they hold in their hands and say… Gold. Placer, on the other hand, is if you take a ton of rocks and there is some gold mixed in after the processing, you might get enough gold to have a good stake in the placer mine. But lode gold is what most of the miners were concentrating on in the beginning of their working a mine.

Somewhat the same is true of the other metals that are valuable enough to ship for money. That is where the railroads came into this wealth creation. The gold, silver, lead, copper and other metals had to be sold to a smelter somewhere on the end of the railroad for the mining operation to be viable.

The value of the mined produce is tied to the national, regional or world price of these metals based on the purity of the metals. When there is a great deal of gold being mined and taken into the market the per ounce price drops a little.

Oh, and one final condition, the changes in the mines itself. In White Oaks after twenty years of mining lode gold the veins of lode gold were exhausted and the mines moved to placer gold which was much harder to mine and therefore not as profitable. At some point the value of the gold is not enough to pay for the time and effort to mine it. Like with the oil wells that after a certain amount of time might not have enough oil being pumped to pay for all the costs and therefore, they are capped or with mines, the shaft is sealed.

In the case of some mines that you can see from Highway 70 near St. Augustine Pass, what happened was that the natural water in the mines kept increasing and the price of pumping the water out of the way became more that the metals being mined were worth.

A little Chile news: Both Big Jim and Sandia Select Chile is being roasted at this time and will be available. They come in 16-ounce jars that cause a smile when you open them. One thing is for sure: all Chile Peppers are not the same. Some have more or less taste heat than others, some taste a bit more sweet. Well now, the same is true with onions. Those are onions that are not as strong, not as pungent as other onions. Here in our area and for sale at the Fresh Chile Company are Sweet Onions that are near the end of their season, so you have to get them quickly. They are also used in the development of a new product at the Fresh Chile Company. It is Hatch Sweet Onion Dressing. Great when I put it on Mashed Potatoes and also on steaks that I am grilling. About ten percent of the onions grown in our area are Sweet in nature meaning they are not as strong which is what some people like. Some people like me, that is. So if this sounds good, the Hatch Sweet Onion Dressing you should give it a try. Use the checkout code Podcast15 to get 15% off your order this week.

Nu-Mex Sweet is a holding name for several that have high productivity, low pungency and are disease tolerant as compared to other onions. New Mexico State University researchers have been working on onions clear back to the days of Fabian Garcia in the 1920s who started many of the programs for Chile Peppers, Pecans, and Onions. There are many competitors, and the onions are constantly being evaluated and adjustments made to make them the best for consumers and for use in commercial operations. Again, The Fresh Chile Company has the fresh Nu-Mex Sweet for sale and we are using these onions in other products such as a great onion dressing which will be released shortly. Enjoy.

Michael Swickard here with Enchanting Stories of New Mexico. One thing that happens when people live in Las Cruces or happen to be in our little slice of paradise. They can come by the Fresh Chile Company Gift Shop at 1160 El Paseo Rd, Suite D7A in Las Cruces, NM. It is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Now I need to tell you about some new products at the Fresh Chile Company that I find wonderful. There is a Local Honey with Hatch Red Chile that is great on biscuits. French fries are so much more with the Fresh Chile Company’s Hatchup which is ketchup and Hatch Red Chile. Come browse and there are many more surprises and also, there are some frozen surprises that I assure you are wonderful. Again, from Monday to Saturday, the Fresh Chile Company Gift Shop at 1160 El Paseo Rd, Suite D7A in Las Cruces, NM. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This is Michael Swickard with Enchanting Stories of New Mexico brought to you by The Fresh Chile Company. Thank you for your time today. We will have lots of News and stories about New Mexico for you on these Podcasts, If you have something or someone you want me to talk about, write to: michael@freshchileco.com

Have a great rest of your day. Oh yes and eat plenty of that good Hatch Valley Chile. Like I always say, “Some Chile is good, more is better.” Bye for now.

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