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Harvesting Chiles, Mesilla ValleyWeather factors have conspired to delay the green chile harvest in New Mexico, according to grower Shayne Franzoy, who farms 200 acres near Hatch.  "I think we're three weeks later this year," he said.  Stephanie Walker, cooperative extension vegetable specialist noted that unusually cool weather this spring caused "a very slow start" for chile fields.  "We won't hit full stride [in the harvest] until August 16," she said, noting that chile diseases have not been serious this year, including the dreaded curly top virus.  Harvested chile acreage averages between 11,000 and 15,000 acres in New Mexico.


Grilled Peach HalfI love this time of the year when the peaches are ripe on the trees, the mangos from Mexico are arriving at the fruit and vegetable markets, the avocados are coming from California, and in just a few weeks we'll have apricots, pears, pomegranates, and apples from local orchards.  Note the grilled peach to the left.  The recipe for it, Grilled Peach Halves with Cheese Chipotle Raspberry Puree, is here.  And we also have Fired-Up Fruits articles entited "Mango Madness," "Pomegranate Passion," "Mulberry Madness," "Blazing Blueberries," and "Avocado Madness" all accessible here.  Enjoy your summer!


Editor's Note: German chile expert Harald Zoschke comments on the Designation of Origin for the Habanero in Mexico.


Harald ZoschkeFirst, I'm not a legal expert nor a lawyer, so this is just personal opinion without any legal relevance.  It is strange that a generic variety name like "Habanero" was granted protection without a regional qualifier. Different story with the protected names over here. For example, there's a protected Piquillo pepper, but that one is named "Piquillo de Lodosa", after the town in the Navarra community where it is grown and protected for origin. But plain "Piquillo" can be grown anywhere and sold under this name. Another one is "Peperone di Senise," a protected pepper from the area around Senise in the southern Italian region of Basilicata. Even "Piment d'Espelette" has its origin in the name, and I heard of Calabrian efforts to protect "Peperoncini di Calabria." These three cases mean nothing but "Peppers from [region name here]." And "Champagne" or "Roquefort" also indicate their origin in the name, which as far as I understand is a vital qualifier to receive protection. You can name any bratwurst just that, but
"Nürnberger Bratwurst" has is protected and has to be made in the City of Nuremberg, Bavaria.
How much a plain "Habanero" would have to be respected here, I don't know. As pointed out, over here, only something like "Yucatán Habanero" would have received legal origin protection. Among other EU countries, Habaneros are grown in Holland for trade within the EU. I'd expect the Dutch growers to oppose. And what about Tropical Red Habanero from the Caribbean and the like? Also, speaking of the origin name, I think I read in one of your books that "Habanero" means "From Havana," so grant the name rights to Cuba, if at all.

Getting the Crud Off the Grill

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: smoking , grilling


My Cruddy GrillIn both the grilling and smoking processes, organic material will accumulate on the grills–fat, pieces of meat, basting sauces, dead moths--all sorts of stuff. Known in the barbecue industry technically as crud, this stuff will quickly burn and fuse to the metal. Since you always want to start cooking with a clean grill, this crud on the grill poses a problem, especially for the lazy cleaner, as most men are prone to be. Some people simply place the grill as close as possible to the hottest flame and allow the accumulated material to turn to ash, then they wipe it off with paper towels. Well, not only are they risking a fire if the crud has a lot of fat in it, rarely does all the crud completely carbonize. In this case, many cooks use a wire brush to get right down to the metal, and this works fine but it is labor intensive and sweaty going. The easiest way to clean grills is to remove them from the unit, spray them thoroughly front and back with oven cleaner, and place them in a plastic trash bag, which you tie shut. Allow them to marinate overnight and rinse them off with a hose the next day.


Habanero Chile

On June 4, 2010, the states of Yucatán, Campeche and Quintana Roo were awarded a Denominación de Origen for the habanero variety of chile pepper by The Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) of the Ministry of Economy. Thus the habanero joins the ranks of the Espelette chile of France and the smoked paprika of Spain, Pimentón de la Vera, as the only pepper products to win the same protection as Champagne, Parmesan cheese, and Dijon mustard. In Mexico, this means that if a manufacturer wants to use the word “habanero” for his product, it must contain habaneros made in these three states and nowhere else. If the pods were grown in Chiapas, the manufacturer cannout use the word “habanero” in the product's name or description. But what does this mean for U.S. manufacturers? Not much, especially considering all the “Parmesan” cheese sold in this country that is not made in the region of Parma, Italy. Yes, Champagne is protected in the U.S., where similar products must be called sparkling wine. But the spirits industry in the U.S. is highly regulated by the federal government while the cheese industry is not. So look for little change in fiery foods products in the U.S. The E.U. is another story, and I have sent this information to Harald Zoschke in Germany for his opinion.

By Emily DeWitt-Cisneros, SuperSite Food Editor


Sarah Gleason 1st/ 2nd grade combination class teacher discussing ingredients with the kids

Who doesn't like salsa? The children at North Valley Academy in Albuquerque sure like making it. Each year in Ms. Gleason's 1st and 2nd grade combination class, the kids make salsa for a Father's Day project. "I decided to start making 'Salsa for Dads' for Father's Day with my students because I wanted to give dads something they would enjoy,” says Sarah Gleason a teacher in her seventh year at North Valley Academy. “It had been kind of hard coming up with an idea for something and then I attended the Fiery Foods Show and saw how many people had come up with their own salsa recipes and thought, Wow, I make pretty good salsa, and why not do it at school with the kids and send it home for Father's Day?"Parent volunteer Sherry  Sanchez helping her daughter Simonita Granko-Sanchez with chopping  onions

Since the class is made up of 6, 7, and 8 year olds, Sarah says, "I wasn't about to let them work with jalapeños and pick their noses or rub their eyes." So she came up with the idea of using an already spicy canned chopped tomatoes, then adding fresh ingredients to the canned tomatoes to make it a chunky pico de gallo-type salsa. "Making salsa for dads goes pretty smoothly as long as I have enough parent help. We use plastic knives and have at least six small cutting boards for six kids to be working at one time. They each cut up their own tomato, onion, and bell pepper and pick apart their own cilantro," says Gleason. Second grader Ian Erwin says smiling, "The only thing wrong is the onion makes me cry". After the salsa is made Sarah spoons it into jars decorated for dads.

I asked 2nd grader Lennon Washburn if her dad liked the salsa she replied, "My dad said it was hot and it was better than some restaurants." This a agreat way to get a class or family involved in cooking. The children in Ms. Gleason's 1st and 2nd grade combination class make this a big event and you can too with your family.



Ms. Gleason's Spiced Up Father's Day Salsa

5 cans chopped tomatoes with habaneros (we used Rotel Brand)

24 roma tomatoes, diced

5 green bell peppers, diced

3 yellow bell peppers, diced

2 bunches cilantro, chopped

15 green onions, chopped

7 cloves garlic, minced

juice of 5 limes

24 pint size canning jars


In a big bowl combine all ingredients. Ladle the salsa into pint size jars. Chill for 2 hours.

Yield: 24 pint size jars

Heat scale: Hot


Android AppThere's an app for nearly everything these days, so here at the SuperSite, we were wondering: what would be the best Chile Pepper Application?  An identification guide?  A growing guide?  A pairing of beers, wines, and spicy food?  This is not a formal survey, but we'd love to hear your comments.  Just log in and comment on this post, or send us an email, here.

Defeat the Evil Cutworms!

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

CutwormCutworms should be called Paul Bunyan worms because when they arrive in your garden, the tender bedding plants resemble newly fallen trees. These are not worms, of course, but caterpillars of small gray moth. They're in the group called solitary surface cutworms because they cut off young plants at the soil line or slightly above or below it, sometimes dropping the severed plants into their burrows. Because most of the plant is not eaten, these cutworms do an amazing amount of damage, attacking and felling new plants nightly, like they did to two of my chile plants this week. Cutworm Collar

Master gardeners usually describe about a dozen ways to attack or prevent cutworms, but for a small garden the best method is called a cutworm collar. Buy plastic drink cups, or save yogurt containers, and simply cut out the bottom. Position the collars over the plants and push them about a inch below the surface of the soil. These physical barriers need to stay around the plants until (like peppers and tomatoes), the stems become somewhat thick and woody.

Update: Today, while replacing those chopped down plants, I found the cutworm, tossed it onto the gravel, and it was promptly eaten by a robin!


Capsaicin Keeps Rats Skinny

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: science , Capsaicin

RatKorean researchers fed five-week-old rats high-fat diets. Some got a daily oral injection of capsaicin, the fiery chemical in chile peppers, or just a control (the liquid that had been used to dilute the capsaicin). Throughout the course of the experiment, the rats getting capsaicin gained 8 percent less weight than untreated animals, and just a little more weight than rats eating a normal diet.

The capsaicin-treated rats also developed less body fat and accumulated smaller fat droplets within fat cells. The researchers noted “that capsaicin can have a significant inhibitory effect against fat accumulation.” But what's really significant in the research is the identification of which genes are selectively affected by consumption of dietary fat or by capsaicin.

They found, for instance, that a high fat diet up-regulated genes producing 17 proteins, including heat shock protein and preoxiredoxin. Some 10 of which were normalized or almost returned to normal in the animals treated with capsaicin. Some of the proteins altered by capsaicin treatment have been linked to obesity — or its prevention — before. Others appear to be newly identified players. A report of the new findings appears in the June 4, 2010 Journal of Proteome Research.

In total, the new findings suggest there may be dietary routes to slowing or even reversing obesity and related diseases through the use of pungent chemicals like capsaicin.


Bonnie PlantsBonnie Plants, with 62 greenhouse production facilities, 450 sales reps, and 13,000 retail accounts offering vegetable, herb, and flower plants, seems to be the largest bedding plant supplier in the country.  You see their plants in big box stores like Lowe's and Wal-Mart, but also in some local nurseries and supermarkets.  Today I spoke with Chuck at Agra Greenhouses in the South Valley of Albuquerque and asked him why his chile pepper bedding plants were one-fourth the cost of the Bonnie Plants at nearby Wal-Mart.  "It's their business model," he replied.  They grow bazillions of bedding plants and their commissioned sales rep/drivers deliver them on consignment to all the locations, and Bonnie only gets paid when the plants are scanned at the retailer.  The leftover, unsold plants are thrown in the trash.  Maybe they trash 80 percent of what they grow, Chuck explained, and this, of course is why their prices are so high.  But they are convenient and the plants have grown well in my garden and produced well. After many years of doing this, I've figured out the best ways to acquire bedding plants.  The following list describes the methods from cheapest to most expensive.
--buy seeds and grow your own.
--buy bedding plants from local nurseries supplied by local greenhouses.
--buy bedding plants from big box stores.
Of course, if you're looking exotic chile plants, price is no object and you should definitely consider Cross Country Nurseries and their wonderful 500-variety bedding plant mail-order program, here.



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