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When to Harvest Red Chile

When to Harvest Red Chile

When to Harvest Red Chile

If you grow Red Chile from seed like Chimayos or Hatch Red Hot Chile, then you probably always wonder, when should I harvest? Full size green chile pods will turn red on the plant and become sweeter with a more complex delicious flavor. Harvest them when they are completely red and still firm. If they are mostly red, it is alright to harvest them and let them mature further to a completely red color off the plant.

How to make a Chile RistraWill Green Chiles turn red after I pick them? 
If the Chile pods are getting close to being ripe and are starting to turn color, you can pick them and they will often continue to ripen to red in a dry area such as your counter.

You can also make a Chile Ristra with your green and red chiles, and they will ripen and dry out naturally while looking beautiful! Ristras are a New Mexican tradition and are not just decoration, they're made to dry peppers for winter use. 

It's easy to make red chile sauce with fresh red chiles or the dried pods.

Taos Red Chile Sauce Recipe


25 dried whole red New Mexican chile pods, mild, medium, hot, or a combination -

OR 15 fresh red New Mexican chile pods -

6 cups water or chicken stock

1 small onion chopped

6 garlic cloves minced

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cumin


When using DRY red chile - Toast dried whole chile pods in a heavy skillet over medium heat until they are warm and release their fragrance, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove the chiles from the skillet immediately. When cool enough to handle, break each chile pod into several pieces (wear nitrile gloves if your skin is sensitive) discarding the stem and seeds.

Place half the chile pieces into a blender and pour in one-half of the water or stock. Puree until mostly smooth but with a few flecks of chile still visible in the liquid. Repeat with the next half of chile pieces and water.

OR When using FRESH red chile - Roast about 15 red chiles on the BBQ and peel away the blistered skin. Remove seeds and stems then chop or puree. Add the water to the red chile for this recipe.

THEN: Warm the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté several minutes until the onion is limp. Pour in the red chile mixture, then add oregano and salt.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for a total of 20 to 25 minutes. After about 15 minutes, taste the sauce and adjust seasonings. When ready, the sauce will be cooked down enough to coat a spoon thickly but still drop off of it easily. Use immediately like gravy on enchiladas and burritos! When cool the sauce can be put thru a sieve (right) or strainer for a smoother sauce and then refrigerate or freeze for later use. Enjoy your red chile!