Oh Hot, Happy Day, Green Chile Season Just Opened

Chileheads of Southern California, the best, mouth-tingliest time of year has arrived.

What to Know

  • El Rey Farms
  • Orders now open for mild, medium, hot, extra hot, Double X, as well as a few other peppers and heat levels
  • Three 2019 Saturdays for roasting at La Puente High School: Aug. 10, 24, and Sept. 7

Certain dates possess a certain quirky cachet, from Black Friday, the big shopping day after Thanksgiving, to the Monday after Daylight Saving Time begins (it is supposed to be the yawniest day of the year).

What, though, do we know of July 15, at least around Southern California, and why is it so special to spicy food fans?

We're not "hatching" a way to string you along on this one: The fifteenth day of July is when El Rey Farms opens its order line for the coming season's Hatch chile crop.

That's right: This is the SoCal-based company that's been delivering succulent, ready-to-roast chile peppers from Hatch, New Mexico to SoCal chileheads for decades now.

And, yes, this is the same company that sets up a series of "roasting Saturdays" in the parking lot of La Puente High School in August and September.

Because you'll probably want all of that chile roasted to a crackly skin crispiness.

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And, oh, sweet heat, that fragrance. It's deliciously indescribable, and smoky-sweet, and smells like the very instant when summer becomes autumn.

While we continue to rhapsodize about the scent of roasting chile, you should decide if you're ordering a 25-pound sack or a 38-pound sack, and the level of heat you crave.

"Mild" is an option, as is "medium," but the capascin-charged levels go up to Double X, which is described as "extra extra hot Hatch chiles," if you're up for the challenge.

We're already waving our palm in front of our mouth in a cool-down gesture in anticipation.

"There is an extra charge for roasting," do keep in mind, if you want your sack o' pods rolled over a flame after you pick it up at La Puente High School on your chosen date.

And those dates in 2019? Aug. 10, 24, and Sept. 7.

Grocery stores around the area also get in the searingly hot swing of Hatch green chile fandom, so you can expect to see some of the major chains rolling out the roasters in the vicinity of Labor Day, though probably earlier.

But the iconic El Rey Farms?

It can trace its famous Hatch runs back to the 1970s. Those runs involve collecting bunches of the region's fresh chile peppers, then refrigerating the green gold for the trip back to California.

That's a long history of bringing the heat, and oodles of chile peppers, and a whole bunch of roasters, too, to SoCal's grateful home cooks. 

But, let's be real: You don't actually have to cook a full chile relleno or enchiladas to enjoy your Hatch chile. Unfreeze it, dice it up and devour it with a little cream cheese on a tortilla.

And zing: You're in a state of blisteringly beautiful bliss.

El Rey, we're ready, so ready, because green chile season is as important to local chileheads as strawberry season is to those who favor fruit, baseball season to those who dig a fast pitch, and June Gloom to those marine layer mavens among us.

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