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Green Chile Myth – The Skin Keeps The Heat In

“The Skin Keeps the Heat In”

We’re sorry we skipped a week in our myth buster series, but we’ve been hard at work on the farm. The last couple of weeks have brought our valley several inches of rain, and we’ve been doing damage control. So, the next myth we will examine is one I only hear from customers every now and then. Although its not nearly as prevalent as the seed-heat myth, its still worth mentioning.

I once had a conversation with a customer regarding the best way to process their chile, and I suggested that any chile she would be using for stews and burgers should be peeled, de-seeded, de-stemmed, and chopped before freezing. I was told that removing the peelings was terrible, and that she would never peel chile before freezing it. I was a little taken aback, and asked if it was too much work or if there was another reason. All she said, in a mildly superior tone, was that “the skin keeps the heat in”.

I had to laugh a little on the inside  because I thought she was kidding at first. Here in New Mexico, if you find peelings in your green sauce, or on your rellenos, or in salsa or other chile-dishes, its an annoyance. The peelings stick to your teeth, and take away from the texture of the green chile. I know many people peel their chile after de-frosting, but personally I like to get all the work done at once. That way, when I’m ready to cook, I just de-frost my green chile and go. But, when I asked if she was kidding, she firmly stated that “if you peel your chile before you eat it, it’ll lose all the heat and the smoky flavor of roasting”.

I’ve been roasting chile since I was 12 years old, and I had never once heard someone say this. Then again, we roast only in New Mexico and most of our customers are natives so I started wondering how many of our customers believed that the skin keeps the heat and flavor in their chile. I decided to do a little survey, and emailed 250 of our customers asking for a simple yes or no answer as to whether they thought that the peelings held in the flavor and heat of their chile. Only 182 people replied to the email, but out of that 182, 18 firmly believed that this was true and another 5 weren’t sure. I was astounded that so many people had somehow heard this green chile myth and decided to include it in our myth-buster series.

So, here’s the truth. The peelings you get from green chile are simply the tough outer layer of the pod or the “skin”. They do not have any flavor, and do not provide any protection for the meat inside. When frozen properly, green chile does not lose any of its flavor or heat, and can be peeled before freezing so that when you are ready to make any chile-containing dish you don’t have to go through the onerous task of peeling. If you have any questions, feel free to comment on this post. Till next time! Our post on myth #3 “hatch chile is a brand or variety” should be interesting, its the most common misconception about hatch green chile around.

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Green Chile Myth #2

“The Skin Keeps the Heat In”

We’re sorry we skipped a week in our myth buster series, but we’ve been hard at work on the farm. The last couple of weeks have brought our valley several inches of rain, and we’ve been doing damage control. So, the next myth we will examine is one I only hear from customers every now and then. Although its not nearly as prevalent as the seed-heat myth, its still worth mentioning.

I once had a conversation with a customer regarding the best way to process their chile, and I suggested that any chile she would be using for stews and burgers should be peeled, de-seeded, de-stemmed, and chopped before freezing. I was told that removing the peelings was terrible, and that she would never peel chile before freezing it. I was a little taken aback, and asked if it was too much work or if there was another reason. All she said, in a mildly superior tone, was that “the skin keeps the heat in”.

I had to laugh a little on the inside  because I thought she was kidding at first. Here in New Mexico, if you find peelings in your green sauce, or on your rellenos, or in salsa or other chile-dishes, its an annoyance. The peelings stick to your teeth, and take away from the texture of the green chile. I know many people peel their chile after de-frosting, but personally I like to get all the work done at once. That way, when I’m ready to cook, I just de-frost my green chile and go. But, when I asked if she was kidding, she firmly stated that “if you peel your chile before you eat it, it’ll lose all the heat and the smoky flavor of roasting”.

I’ve been roasting chile since I was 12 years old, and I had never once heard someone say this. Then again, we roast only in New Mexico and most of our customers are natives so I started wondering how many of our customers believed that the skin keeps the heat and flavor in their chile. I decided to do a little survey, and emailed 250 of our customers asking for a simple yes or no answer as to whether they thought that the peelings held in the flavor and heat of their chile. Only 182 people replied to the email, but out of that 182, 18 firmly believed that this was true and another 5 weren’t sure. I was astounded that so many people had somehow heard this green chile myth and decided to include it in our myth-buster series.

So, here’s the truth. The peelings you get from green chile are simply the tough outer layer of the pod or the “skin”. They do not have any flavor, and do not provide any protection for the meat inside. When frozen properly, green chile does not lose any of its flavor or heat, and can be peeled before freezing so that when you are ready to make any chile-containing dish you don’t have to go through the onerous task of peeling. If you have any questions, feel free to comment on this post. Till next time! Our post on myth #3 “hatch chile is a brand or variety” should be interesting, its the most common misconception about hatch green chile around.

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Green Chile Myth #1

“The heat is in the seeds”

One of the most common pieces of disinformation that I’ve noticed many customers and businesses regard as accepted fact is that the heat in chile pods resides in the seeds. I’ve seen businesses place this on their websites, and had many customers tell me that they don’t eat chile seeds because they are “too hot”. This is simply not true. The vast majority of capsaicin (the naturally occurring  substance in hatch green chile that provides its heat) is found in what is referred to as the “veins” of the chile pod.

When you break open a chile pod, you will see long vein-like strings of meat running lengthwise along the interior of the pod. In mild hatch green chile, these are almost completely white with the occasional hint of yellow coloring. This discoloration is the naturally occurring capsaicin. When you take a step up the heat ladder to medium green chile, you will notice the veins have a more noticeable streak of yellow. This noticeable increase in yellow/orange discoloration of the vein continues on up to X-Hot in which the entire vein is a yellow/orange color. A good rule of thumb is “the darker yellow the vein, the hotter the chile”. Although there is still some naturally occurring capsaicin in the flat sections of the chile-pod’s meat, the vast majority of it is found in the vein. When green chile is roasted, much of it is spread throughout the pod when cooked, leading to that unmistakable Hatch Green Chile flavor.

So, we’ve covered the meat and veins, the seeds must be hot too right? The answer is no. Surprisingly, there is little to no capsaicin in chile seeds. One might notice a slight bit of warmth when eating them, but this is just because they have come in contact with the veins and meat of the chile during roasting. Most New Mexicans actually remove the seeds when processing their chile before freezing. When there are seeds in the green-sauce of a restaurant here, its looked at as the “lazy” way of doing things. So its always best to remove the seeds, they definitely aren’t what make your chile hot.

We hope this helps clear up any misconceptions  you’ve had about hatch green chile! Stay tuned for Hatch Chile Myth #2 “The skin keeps the heat in”.

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Hatch Chile Myth Busters

The Real Skinny on all Things Chile

In our 60 plus year growing green chile here in the valley, we’ve certainly learned a lot about our product, and in the last few years we’ve started to notice a lot of disinformation being spun by businesses as fact. Many of our customers have mentioned things in their correspondence with us over the years that are based purely on myths or half-truths so we are going to be doing a series on such myths titled Hatch Chile Myth Busters. We will have our first post up shortly, and will add a new one each week through the end of August, so stay tuned!