Hatch Chiles to Be Scarcer, More Expensive This Year Because of Drought

I'm currently in New Mexico for...something...and the statewide tradition of roasting just-harvested chiles is beginning anew. Last evening, as I drove down the old Route 66 in downtown Albuquerque (now Central Avenue), the sweet-smoky, full-bodied scent of those enchanting pepper pods getting roasted in tumblers or open flames filled the area's old buildings--absolute heaven.

You can get a taste of that this Saturday at the Ralph's in Costa Mesa, as they'll be selling Hatch chiles. But don't be surprised if the price seems a bit outlandish, or if the supplies are scarcer--that's because New Mexico's chile farmers have weathered a brutal growing season that saw the state's fourth-hottest July on record and a miniscule snowpack wreck their crop.

The Associated Press published this dispatch last week on the problem from, of all places, Santa Fe, which isn't exactly an epicenter of chile-growing culture in New Mexico. That would be Chimayó to the north and, most famously, Hatch at the south. That's where KOAT-TV Channel 7 had its reporter go speak with farmers, who told him that growing costs have increased 20 percent just this year, that the price will increase $2 to $4 per bag of chile (and that's in New Mexico; imagine the rise in California?) and that there should be serious shortages by September.

Which means, line up at Ralph's this Saturday, or be extra-nice to me and I just might get a bag for you when I travel to Hatch this Thursday...

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Hazel Kelly
Hazel Kelly

The Hatch Roast this Saturday is only at the following Costa Mesa Ralphs: 380 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa CA  (949) 645-8283 - 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

(Also a roast up in La Canada Flintridge on Saturday: 521 W. Foothill Blvd., La Canada CA (818) 790-0584)

Upcoming roasts:Saturday August 2010am-4pmRalphs, 11727 Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles CA (310) 473-5238Ralphs, 5241 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach CA (714) 377-0024

Saturday August 2710am-4pmRalphs, 13321 Jamboree Rd., Tustin CA (714) 544-0491Ralphs, 3601 E. Foothill Blvd. Pasadena CA  (626) 351-6572

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