What to Know
- Hatch chile roasting season runs for most of August and some of September each year
- Orders open at El Rey Farms on July 15, 2021
- Chile roasting begins at select Ralphs grocery stores on Aug. 14; the roasting happens every weekend through Sept. 12
The sizzle, the crackle, the fragrance, the roaster-close heat: Experiencing a Hatch green chile pepper starts long before you put the fiery foodstuff in your mouth.
For while many other pieces of produce are picked, prepared, and packaged for your enjoyment, the hot, oblong-esque icons need to go through a tried-and-true transformative process before they reach the top of your enchilada, the interior of your relleno, or all of those savory stews you have planned for wintertime.
That highly visual, super-aromatic process?
It involves being loaded into a turn-ready, bingo-style, heavy-duty metal roaster.
Those roasters, which foretell the coming of fall to denizens throughout the Southwest, pop up in late summer throughout New Mexico, home to the famous Hatch chile pepper, and at several Southern California locations, too.
For Hatchlings are plentiful around these parts, those capsaicin-obsessed LA locals who want to, nay, need to stock their freezers with big bags of frozen roasted chiles.
And the kick-off date for that annual process, which has a fairly short and always scorching window, both flavor-wise and because of the temperature outside? It all begins around the middle of July.
July 15, if you want to look to one of the most venerable purveyors of chile goodness in the area, El Rey Farms.
El Rey's chile orders always open on the 15th day of July, with eye on August and early September (when the trucks carrying chile and the all-important roasters roll into Whittier, which they will again in 2021).
Keep in mind that the chile peppers boast various levels of heat, so even mild mavens can find not-too-hot happiness.
And Frieda's Specialty Produce just announced that several select Ralphs grocery stores will feature parking lot roasting in August and early September 2021, with Anaheim, Huntington Beach, Pasadena, and Riverside all on the list.
Do check the Ralphs near you to make sure you visit on the right date, of course. Think of this as a chile tour of local Ralphs stores, with different stores taking the spicy centerstage each Saturday and Sunday.
The prices? You'll pay $29.99 for a 25-pound box of roasted deliciousness, while 10-pound boxes begin at $19.99.
More regional stores are likely to feature the piquant fruit, so keep an eye on your neighborhood market for the arrival of the much-anticipated roasters.
But will you go mild, medium, hot, or x-spicy when you place your order? That's a conversation you'll need to have with the other pepper-loving people of your household soon.