Preston and Elaine Mitchell, the owners of Hatch Chile Store, hail from a legacy of chile farmers. Their extended family currently farms over 1000 acres of prime farmland in the Hatch valley. They have been in the produce business for more than a century. Preston’s family legacy began five generations ago, when Joseph and Celestina Franzoy homesteaded acreage near the village of Hatch. Joseph was the first farmer to grow chile in the Hatch Valley and the first farmer to begin shipping Hatch chile out of state.
Elaine’s grandparents owned Berridge Farms, serving the Santa Fe market for more than 15 years. They sold tens of thousands of pounds of fresh hatch green chile each year at the intersection of Cerrillos & Baca in downtown Santa Fe. The Berridge family sells chile in Santa Fe at markets during the annual harvest, from mid August to late September. Most weekends there are two or three generations of the Berridge clan helping to roast and sell their famous product.
Preston and Elaine’s combined history and heritage ensures that when you buy their hatch green chile, you’re getting the very best, straight from a family farm.
Hatch green chile
There are few things that unite New Mexicans like chile. The New Mexico legislature adopted an official state question “red vs. green chile” in 1999. Granted, We can become divisive about red vs. green and who has the best red or green. Alternatively, many folks choose the spicy path to diplomacy by adding both (known as “Christmas”). However, I noticed when living in Atlanta that chile became a primary topic of the conversation almost immediately after initial greetings. It is the food that binds us together, in endorphin imbued bliss.
Farmers grow the best green chile in the world in the fertile Hatch Valley of southern New Mexico. Chile has been part of the rich culture and heritage New Mexico is famous for several generations and the crop’s popularity in the region proceeds that. New Mexico Chiles are a staple ingredient in the state’s most popular culinary dishes and comfort foods. Locals and visitors slather their food with chile and share the recipes passed down through the generations, debating who makes the best rellenos. For the record, I vote for my mom on that one and I have pilfered the recipe.
Hatch, New Mexico | Chile Capital of the World
Hatch green chile, grown in the Valley around Hatch, New Mexico, is famous for its flavor. The coveted crop has been featured in countless publications, Sunset Magazine to the BBC, with a lot of culinary publications in the middle. Frequently chile is branded as “Hatch” chile when it is from elsewhere. Hatch is a place…not a variety of chile. It is unfortunate that other areas, knowing the appeal, claim the name, because the flavor isn’t the same. Hatch has ideal weather conditions, located in the Rio Grande flood plain, where it is hot and dry with a water supply. Much like regions of France are known for their grapes, Hatch is known for chile.
To celebrate the history of chile in the Hatch valley, the city of Hatch hosts an annual Hatch Chile Festival during Labor Day Weekend. This festival has drawn people to the tiny agricultural community for more than forty years. In addition to this festival, the Green Chile Cheeseburger trail was established to showcase the region’s best cheeseburgers (cough, cough…Sparky’s).
Hatch Chile Store sells four varieties of chile
- Mild (1904) ranges in size from 6-9 inches, and has a very mild flavor, with little to no heat. It is meaty and a good choice for very mild rellenos and enchilada sauces. This is a starting point for someone who doesn’t particularly like spicy foods.
- Medium (Big Jim) is a large meaty variety, ranging in size from 7-10 inches in length. Big Jim varies in heat from one pod to the next. They are ideal for chopping up for medium heat enchiladas or stuffing for rellenos. Big Jim are large enough to stuff with a half pound of chile and meat. Some of the large pods are big enough to make a two person relleno.
- Hot (Sandia) is a smaller variety, ranging from 5-8 inches. This is a favorite among with an affinity for spicy foods. It is known for it’s consistent heat, and makes great enchilada sauce.
- Extra-Hot (Lumbre) is the smallest variety, but it packs a punch. This variety is ideal for the chile connoisseur, people who love the burn of hot chile. This chile makes your nose run and/or makes you break a sweat. Lumbre is fantastic for hot salsas and can be added in small quantities to other dishes for a blast of heat. It really is X-Hot. If you aren’t a spicy food aficionado, stick with Sandia.
Hatch Chile Store’s produce is the freshest you will find online and they guarantee it. They believe the term “Hatch Chile” should only be used by farmers located in the Hatch Valley along the Rio Grande. They hand pick it, hand peel it, and ship the freshest, tastiest chile available. For grocers, they host roasting events in the fall.
Fresh Chile During Harvest
During the harvest, they ship fresh red and green chile for a several weeks. They provide a discount every spring on pre-orders and ship that out first and fresh. They start bright and early on Tuesdays and ship everything out the same day, because chile quickly loses quality if it isn’t refrigerated. Hatch Chile Store’s pick-n-ship policy ensures that their chile arrives as farm fresh and crisp as possible.