chile peppers

Chile is the Mexican-Spanish word for any pepper variety. All native peppers are hot peppers. The sweet bell pepper was developed in Germany long after the colonization of Central America.

Chile peppers—unlike sweet peppers—are generally too powerful to eat by themselves. They are overwhelmingly used in soups and sauces.

Most peppers are perennial plants that are grown as annuals in temperate regions. Plant them in a pot and bring them indoors during winter to keep them alive. Multi-year plants develop woody stems and tend to bear fewer fruits than in their 1st year.


Pepper varieties I have grown:

Pic1: serrano peppers = long, thin, firm, very hot
Pic2: jalapeno peppers = thicker than serranos, firm. hot
Pic3: NM chiles are soft-bodied long chiles that come in several varieties from mild to extra hot


Pic4: cayenne pepper = a decorative small plant with multitudes of tiny upright pods, very hot
Pic5: sweet bell peppers = firm but hollow, almost no heat
Pic6: hot yellow peppers = similar in size to jalapenos, but with a soft body, hot

a. growing chiles at home


bell peppers

Pic7: seedling in ground
Pic8: young bell pepper in a pot
Pic9: almost ready for harvest

b. green chiles

many dates

The pepper known in New Mexico as 'green chile' is long, narrow and soft-bodied (Pic3) and it comes in a range from mild—which is still respectably hot to newbies—to extra hot.

Green chiles are pods that have been harvested before they were fully ripened. They usually have a sharper (and spicier) flavor than the ripe pods. Green chiles are sold fresh, because they would ripen and change color while sun-drying. They are often roasted before they are used in the kitchen. It adds a delicious smoky flavor and it makes it easier to peel the peppers.


home-grown green chile


Pic10: oven-roasting green chile — internet picture
Pic11: peeling and chopping green chile
Pic12: chopped green chile ready for the freezer


Pic13-15: green chile puree


Hatch green chile on the internet

internet pictures

Pic16: Hatch, NM chile store
Pic17: fire-roasting chile
Pic18: roasted chile

internet pictures

Pic19: chopped green chile
Pic20: burger with roasted Hatch chile, smoked cheese
Pic21: roasted green chile salsa (green chile, garlic, chicken stock, lime juice, taco seasoning)

b. red chile

Red chiles are late-season pods that have been ripened and sometimes also dried on the vine. The pods are sold fully dried, need to be rehydrated, peeled and pureed. Frozen red chile is usually pureed. 


 2 internet pictures

Pic22: Hatch, NM ristras
Pic23: fresh chile vs. dried chile — some, like chipotle (jalapeno) and mulato (poblano,) are dried by smoking them


rehydrating dried chile / red chile puree / red enchilada sauce

All pictures below were borrowed from the internet FYI.


1. whole pods, without roasting — internet pictures



2. destem, deseed and roast first

Pic28: pliable, not brittle
Pic29+30: destem and deseed


Pic31: roast
Pic32: soak
Pic33: soaked


Pic34: puree
Pic35: pureed
Pic36: red chile enchiladas / enmoladas?


3. optional: add other ingredients: moles / enchilada sauce

Pic37: onions, garlic, spices, tomatoes, bread, ...
Pic38: red chile sauce
Pic39: red chile enchiladas