Over the years, the Sichler family has compiled a list of our customers’ most frequently asked questions. At the top of that list is our most frequently asked question of all — one to which there is no easy answer. Customers consistently ask us, “How hot is your hot?” (Translation: “Is your hot too hot, just right, or too mild for me?”) Our response: We lead each customer on a tour of our four chile varieties and let them, like Goldilocks, choose which one is just right for them.
In 1987, John and Eleanor Sichler — along with their two children, Naomi and Tim — opened Sichler Farms in Albuquerque, building upon a long Sichler family legacy of supplying New Mexico residents with the highest-quality, freshest chile and produce in the region. Sichler Farms Albuquerque is excited to celebrate its 24th season in 2010, keeping alive a New Mexico tradition since 1869.
The Sichler family has been farming in the Rio Grande Valley for many generations, originally establishing their chile farms in Los Lunas, New Mexico in the late 1860s. Today, our family farm — operated by Scott Sichler — is located in Albuquerque’s beautiful and fertile South Valley.
Although many people think that Hatch is a type of chile, Hatch is actually a town in southern New Mexico, where much of the region’s chile is grown. Due to the large quantity of chile farmed in Hatch, as well as the town’s concerted marketing strategy, Hatch has become a widely recognizable name in chile. We (and our many loyal customers!) believe that Sichler chile far surpasses the quality of Hatch chile, due to the personal care with which our farm is tended, as well as our farm’s close proximity to our retail store in Albuquerque. All Sichler chile is locally grown, harvested and sold, and its freshness and flavor comes with our personal guarantee.
The Sichler family has spent years refining their seeding, transplanting and growing process to produce the best, most flavorful chile available. We have selected to grow and sell the following varieties, as a result of their superior flavor and heartiness: Joe Parker (mild), Big Jim (medium), Sandia (hot), and Barker (extra-hot).
At Sichler Farms, we sell chile in a variety of quantities. Our two most popular quantities are the sack and the bushel. A sack is 35 pounds, and a bushel (a quantity of measurement) is approximately 20-22 pounds.
A 35-pound sack of chile will yield approximately 22 quart-size Ziploc bags of unpeeled chile. A bushel of chile will yield 10 to 12 quart-size Ziploc bags of unpeeled chile.
According to the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University, there is no hard scientific data on this particular subject. However, scientists believe that capsaicin (chile’s heat-producing chemical compound) is released from the chile’s glands during the packaging/freezing process, and the capsaicin is distributed throughout the flesh of the pods, thus making the chile seem “hotter.”
Once it is roasted and frozen, green chile remains flavorful and ready-to-eat for a year or more. At Sichler Farms, we are committed to ensuring that you are completely satisfied with your chile purchase. A few key steps will help ensure that your chile experience is a wonderful one.
- Select a variety of chile, ranging in temperature from mild to extra-hot, based on your personal taste and experience.
- Once you have selected your chile, and Sichler Farms staff have roasted it for you, allow it to steam in the food-safe bag for approximately 10-15 minutes. (Chile steamed longer than 15 minutes will overcook and lose its color, flavor and nutritional value.)
- Spread out the chile on a counter or table to let it cool.
- Using latex gloves, package your chile in freezer-safe Ziploc bags. You may either peel and de-stem your chile prior to packaging — or you may package and freeze it with the peeling still on, instead peeling it bag-by-bag as you unfreeze it for use.
- Avoid rinsing/immersing the chile in water, as this will cause it to lose flavor. Avoid touching your face or eyes while packaging chile, as the heat from the chile can cause burning. Remove contact lenses before beginning the packaging process.
- Seal the Ziploc bags only after there is no more steam, thus preventing freezer burn.
- When you are ready to eat your chile, thaw it, peel it (if you have not done so already), and season it lightly with salt, garlic and other seasonings to your liking.
We love this question because the answer is quite surprising. After polling our customers for many years to determine whether peeling chile prior to freezing affects the chile’s flavor, we have discovered that, in fact, the question “To peel or not to peel?” has everything to do with personality type, and nothing at all to do with flavor!
People with Type-A personalities typically prefer to peel their chile prior to freezing. Those who are more laidback and like to take life as it comes, on the other hand, express a preference to simply bag and freeze their chile with the peeling on, and peel each bag prior to eating. We have found that upfront peeling saves a little room in the freezer — but it does not change the flavor either way. We suggest that you do what comes naturally to you, and enjoy the results!
Whether fresh or frozen, green chile is a perishable product and must be transported accordingly. Fresh chile is best transported in a cardboard box with good ventilation. Place the box of chile inside a cool air-conditioned vehicle. It will remain fresh for approximately three days. Never transport fresh chile in plastic
Frozen chile, like any other frozen product, must remain cold in order to be safe for consumption. We recommend that you transport frozen chile on dry ice inside an insulated container (such as a Styrofoam cooler, for example). Purchase approximately 1.5 pounds of dry ice for every 12 pounds of chile. Line the bottom of the cooler with crumpled newspaper, place the dry ice on top of the newspaper, and cover with another layer of newspaper. Then, place the frozen chile, in Ziploc bags, into the cooler, and add a final layer of newspaper, to ensure maximum insulation. Cover with lid, and seal tightly. Chile will remain frozen for approximately 24 hours. (NOTE: Airlines do not allow dry ice on board. Ask a Sichler Farms associate for assistance with packaging if you plan to fly with your green chile.)
Our Sichler Farms Albuquerque store is only open on a seasonal basis from August - October. We are happy to announce that you can now shop at Sichlers.com for our off-season products. If you are a local resident, and are interested in our off-season products please call us at 505-255-3338.