What makes “Hatch” chile special?
To answer this question, we need to have a quick history lesson. The kind of chile that people talk about when they talk about Hatch green chile is known by the umbrella term “New Mexico chile,” and it refers to varieties like Sandia, Joe Parker, and Lumbre, among others. These varieties were developed right here at our local university, New Mexico State, in 1888 by horticulturist Dr. Fabian Garcia.
Ready for the kicker? The varieties of chile grown in Hatch are the same as the varieties of chile grown outside of it. That means that while Hatch chile is indeed amazing, it isn’t any more amazing than chile grown outside the city limits.
“I’ve been fighting against this for years,” said Dave DeWitt, author of dozens of books about chiles and producers of the National Fiery Foods and Barbecue show. “There’s no special variety of chile known as ‘Hatch,’ nor is there anything special in the soil around Hatch, New Mexico that makes their chile extra good.” DeWitt attributes a lot of the Hatch misunderstanding to the Hatch Green Chile Festival, which draws more than 30,000 visitors each year.
But if you use the “Hatch” name to make sure you find the best chile, you might want to reconsider. “There isn’t enough chile grown in tiny Hatch to meet demand for all the places that supposedly sell Hatch chile,” DeWitt explains. “Many of the chiles sold under the Hatch name are grown in other parts of New Mexico, and sometimes in states like Texas and Arizona.”
The bottom line seems to be that the name “Hatch” doesn’t guarantee a great chile. But if you’re looking for delicious organic New Mexico chiles in three great varieties, look no further than the Co+op! We’re offering full cases, half cases, and per pound green chile in medium, hot, and extra hot (Joe Parker, Sandia, and Lumbre, respectively), and we’ll even roast them for you for free. Grown by Seco Spice in Berino, NM (which is in the Mesilla Valley, just south of Las Cruces), these organic chiles are just as good as anything that says “Hatch” on the label – maybe better!