At the Farmers Market: Manzano Pepper Company

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Dave Lieberman

There are precious few vegetables that aren't improved by pickling. Certainly cucumbers, but also onions, cauliflower, carrots, green tomatoes, green beans... and chiles. I love pickled chiles.

Imagine my delight, then, when I walked through the Anaheim farmers market last Thursday at lunchtime and saw a stand called the Manzano Pepper Company selling pickled manzano chiles.

Manzano chiles hail from the Mexican state of Michoacán. They look like habaneros, but they're rounder and far, far less hot. They're typically about the same spiciness as chile güeros (yellow chiles) or supermarket jalapeños, but they're typically orange or even red.

Manzano Pepper Company's manzanos are made right here in Anaheim and come pickled Mexican-style (which means in vinegar and water with bay leaf and oregano--no sugar) with a bunch of supporting vegetables: squash, cucumbers, carrots, onions and garlic. It hadn't really occurred to me to pickle zucchini, oddly, though it worked nicely and provided a little sweetness.

As a true resident of Orange County, I immediately took my Mexican escabeche and put it on a plate next to some Vietnamese grilled pork and rice, where it worked wonderfully. The chiles come, theoretically, in three levels of spiciness, but honestly there's a mix of some stronger chile and some weaker in the container, and none of them were overwhelmingly hot.

My only quibble is that I want there to be twice as many manzano chiles as there are.

Their Facebook page says they've been at the Orange County Marketplace and that you can buy their curtido in three sizes: El Chiquilín (8 oz.), El Manzano (16 oz.) and El Gran Curtido (32 oz.), which ought to be renamed El Chingo de Chiles. I bought my manzanos at the Anaheim Downtown farmers market for three weeks. You can call them at (714) 234-9679 for other purchase options.

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2 comments
Mexigourmand
Mexigourmand

Interestingly this chile is cultivated in the Andes (called chile rocoto in Peru) and is one of the few chile cultivars that is not Capsisum  annum but rather is C. pubescens. In much of Michoacan they are called chile peron, in Oaxaca chile canario (the yellow variety is common there), and chile cera in Veracruz. They also are popular in Guerrero and other places with elevation.

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