Been in the grocery stores lately? You might notice something in the produce section. It's that magical time of the year when Hatch chile is back. So what makes this green chile pepper so special? Does it have magical healing powers? Will it all of a sudden make life better? Well... maybe. Here's a few things about this one of a kind pepper.

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They're very strict with naming

Michael J. Rivera/TSM

Hatch chiles come from Southern New Mexico, The Hatch Valley which is watered by the Rio Grande River. most of the valley lies within the far northwest corner of Doña Ana County about 20 minutes northwest of Las Cruces, NM. The valley has good rich soil that has volcanic origins that helps add to the flavor. In order for a chile to be named a Hatch chile it must be grown and processed in the valley. Think of it like wine, It can't be a Bordeaux  unless it's from a specific region of France.

They don't just come in green

Michael J. Rivera/TSM

There are actually red ones as well there's no difference in the variety except when they are picked, The chile initially starts out green and is harvested young. at this stage they have a more smokey flavor to them thanks to the volcanic soil they tend to sweeten up as they ripen into a more red shade and lose some of this characteristic.

They're very versatile

Because of their more medium heat they work well in everything from stews to salsas and stuffed. Many fast food chains also offer them up on burgers or sandwiches. If you do need a little more heat with your chile there are varieties that do get up to 8,000 units on the Scoville scale, right up there with Chipotle and Cayanne Peppers.

They're great grilled, Freeze Them and Enjoy Year Round

credit: United Supermarket

Throw them on the grill for 10 minutes turning them at least 4 times till the entire pepper blisters up. Once cooked and stored in a shallow container or even better sealed, they can last up to a year. like any other food item you want to freeze fast to keep any bacteria development at bay. They can even gain heat when coming out of thaw!

There's even a festival

Michael J. Rivera/TSM

If you want to enjoy the whole Hatch chile experience there is an annual festival held yearly in Hatch, NM around Labor Day and they go all out too with parades, carnivals and of course plenty of chile to go around.

Never had a Hatch chile? Head in to your grocer, the season runs through early October.

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