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Dave's Fiery Front Page

Exploring the World of Spice and Smoke
Tags >> chile peppers

The Myth of Hatch Chiles

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

There is no such thing as a Hatch chile, despite all the hype about them.  It is not a chile variety, as many people think.  Yes, there are chiles grown in Hatch, usually the varieties 'Barker' and 'NuMex 6-4'.  These grown-in-Hatch varieties are no better than those grown in the Mesilla Valley or in Deming.  There are simply not enough chiles grown in Hatch to supply all of the sellers claiming to provide "Hatch chile."  A few years ago at the New Mexico Chile Conference, I spoke to two women who have a chile farm in eastern Arizona who confessed to me that they shipped their chiles to Hatch, where roadside vendors labeled them "Hatch chiles."  So, how did this mythology come about?  Well, first, there is a Hatch brand of canned chiles, packed by Border Foods in Deming.  This brand has been on the market for years, but probably most of these chiles are grown in Mexico, not Hatch.  Then there is what Jimmy Buffet calls the "coconut telegraph," but here it's the Capsicum Telegraph--namely word of mouth and rumor from consumers who mistakenly spread the hype.  Sorry to burst everyone's Hatch bubble, but I always tell it like it is.  Photo by Paul Ross, shot in Hatch.

Jolokias in Florida

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tony Kamenoff in Orange City, Florida, writes:  "These are pics from December.  I had about60 peppers on my two plants from 3 to 3.5 inches long. I keep them in pots to move in and out according to the weather.  The plants came up in March and and first one did not have pods until August and finally ripened in October.  They are hot and have fruity taste, which makes them great for salsa and sauce boiled down in vinegar. "

German researchers have discovered that the flapping of bees' wings scares off caterpillars, reducing leaf damage on bell peppers and soybeans.

Many wasp species lay their eggs in caterpillars, and so caterpillars have evolved to avoid them. The sounds of bees' and wasps' wings are similar.

Researchers suggest this is an added bonus of having bees around, as well as the pollination they provide.

The scientists wrote in the journal Current Biology: "Our findings indicate for the first time that visiting honeybees provide plants with a totally unexpected advantage. They not only transport pollen from flower to flower, but in addition also reduce plant destruction by herbivores."

For the experiment, researchers used bell pepper and soybean plants, beet armyworm caterpillars, and honeybees. They set up experimental plots of the plants, added the caterpillars, and allowed the bees to enter some of the plots but not others.

When the caterpillars had turned into pupae and buried away in the soil, the scientists went back into the cages and measured the extent of leaf damage - the amount of munching that the caterpillars had indulged in.

The presence of bees reduced caterpillar damage by about 60% in plants that had not fruited.

More Italian Hot Stuff

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

I mentioned in an earlier post that Marco Budinis had visited the Natalidea show in Genoa and had found a bunch of spicy foods.  Now he shares more pix with us, from standard fare like crushed chiles and chile powder...

To spiced-up olives from Puglia...

And chile-laden hard Pecorino cheese from Calabria...

The Calabrians love spicy cheese, so why not put some chile in a soft cheese like Ricotta?

And for those rare Italians who can't eat spicy food, how about the ultimate chile house decoration?


During the winter, my thoughts travel south to the Caribbean and I remember all our great trips and the recipes we collected.  Recently I've been adding articles about these trips, including one by Nancy Gerlach.

  • Belize, 1988, here.
  • Trinidad & Tobago, 1992, here.
  • British Virgin Islands, 1995, here.
  • Barbados, 1996, here.



We continue to add new content at a record rate:

  • Learn how to grow the Capsicum baccatum species, here.
  • Everything we know about grilling chicken, here.
  • Back in 1990, Mary Jane and I visited Sonora for the chiltepin harvest, here.
  • Have a martini with your steak! Dr. BBQ's "Retro Grilling, here.



 Nancy Gerlach reports from Yucatán: 

I never thought I'd miss New Mexico chile so soon, but I do. The only fresh green chiles that are available here are poblanos. Of coarse we do get fresh jalapeños, habaneros, xcatik, and serranos. Last week I made a batch of my barbecue sauce substituting guajillos for the NM red and it didn't have a sweet chile flavor that you get with NM red. It was good, just different. I am convinced that there are absolutely no better tasting chiles than NM green and red.

I also want to report that the hot jalapeño is alive and well and growing in Mexico. I think you and I had a discussion before I left about how tame they had become in the U.S. and were almost as wild as a bell pepper. I actually stopped eating them and was substituting serranos in recipes. We bought some big jalapeños from our produce lady at the local market a couple of weeks ago and decided to make rellenos out of them with some leftover cochinita pibil that I had made. I took one small bite and I thought the top of my head was coming off! I flushed bright red, broke out in a sweat, and almost started hiccuping. The heat level of those puppies was almost as high as some habaneros and I thought of you and your reaction to them in the "old days." The next time we were at the stand, we told them about how hot they were and our reactions. Everyone around had a good laugh, and then we asked for more. 

At the Azienda Agraria Sperimentale in Parma.

September 15, 2008:

November 23, 2008:

Thanks to my friend Mario Dadomo!

New technological advances in roasting and peeling New Mexico green chile have created InstantChile Futuro, which is much tastier than the canned green chile you find in supermarkets. Go here to read the entire story, plus recipes. 

Mutant Pods Invade!

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: gardening , chile peppers

A word familiar to all fans of science fiction, mutation refers to any sudden change in DNA--deoxyribonucleic acid, the genetic blueprint for an organism--that creates a change in an organism's appearance, behavior, or health.  Symptoms include leaf distortion, variegation in leaves, fruit deformity, etc. They can be mistaken for herbicide or virus infection.  At left is a bizarre mutant pod from Jukka in Finland.





This mutant image was sent to me by Mr. Prall.










The Jolokias are particularly prone to mutation.  This image was sent by Mr. Reynolds.  (I lost the first names in an email file blow-up.)




 And finally, here's a mutant baccatum from Jukka's garden in 2008.



Interesting mutants should be sent to the Chile Pepper Institute, P.O. Box 30003, Dept. 3Q, NMSU, Las Cruces, NM 88003.



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