Friday, September 17, 2010

What makes Chimayó® chiles special?

Unlike some mass produced, hybrid, or genetically modified products Chimayó® chile seeds are handed down from generation to generation producing a distinctive local variety generally known as a landrace (or native chile).  A landrace is a plant species with unique features that has developed by natural processes and adapted to the specific environment in which it is grown.  Variations in terrain, irrigation practices, soil, climate, and other factors along with individual selective seed propagation produce distinct qualities or individual “farmer varieties”.
Once this chile has ripened, dried, and been ground into powder form called molido (milled), the aroma produced is a characteristic simultaneous mix of sweetness, richness, and spiciness that is not overbearingly hot.  The flavor is complex and distinctive.  Native Chimayó® chile has medium heat and a smooth robust flavor with chocolate-like base tones.  If aged properly this chile’s flavor is refined like a fine wine.  The more common chiles do not improve with age.  Chefs often use less Chimayó® to achieve the same desired results.  Authentic Chimayó® chile powder has a distinct pottery red-orange color as opposed to the more common chile which has a more brick red color. However, the only sure way to identify it is to look for the registration mark and certification number on the label. 

Similar to the use of term “organic”, the name “Chimayó® “is now a US Patent and Trademark registered certification owned by Chimayó Chile Framers, Inc and restricted to only products that are certified as authentic.  Buyers should be aware that “Chimayo like”, “Chimayo blend”, and “similar to” are product descriptions that are not true Chimayó.  In fact products using the name without certification are in violation of the farmer’s trademark rights.  Of all the native chiles, those from Chimayó have long been considered the standard in New Mexico, and have commanded the highest prices.  As one New Mexican writers put it, “…Chimayó is to chile as Havana is to Cigars.”  The Chimayó® powder at the Chile Man’s site is authentic certified Chimayó®.  
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