Saturday, September 8, 2007

Harvest Time in Clovis

It's green chile time in New Mexico. Everywhere you go you can smell chiles roasting--in supermarket parking lots, in backyards on grills, and at the farmer's market.

It's also peanut harvest time here in Clovis. Just down the road toward Portales we can stop in at the big peanut plant and buy big bags of sweet Valencia peanuts. They are different from the peanuts we used to buy back east. Valencias have three or even four kernels in each pod and have a beautiful dark red skin.

And it's watermelon time, too. You will see pickup trucks full of the striped melons backed up to the road, selling directly to their customers. My favorite place to buy them is at the Clovis Farmers Market. It takes place at 4th and Pile St. on Saturday mornings starting at 8 AM and on Tuesday afternoons starting at 4 PM.
Because we've already put up our fifty pounds of chiles and didn't have to worry about waiting in line for the chile roaster, we didn't get to the market this morning until at little after 8 o'clock. There was already a good crowd. It's a funny thing about that place--everyone seems to have on a big smile. Why not? The smells are wonderful, especially down by the line for the chile roaster. The people are friendly, and the food is lovely and fresh and handed to you by the person who grew it.

We bought onions with a little red dirt still on them. We bought corn and tomatoes and cucumbers. We admired these sweet potatoes, just dug up by their proud grower.

Back to those green chiles. After your bucketful is roasted, the chile roaster guys pour the chiles
into a big plastic bag. Here's what we did with ours when we got them home the other day. We dumped a couple of pounds at a time into ice water to cool them down, then drained them and packed them into quart freezer bags and popped them into the freezer. Some people like to peel them before freezing, but we just peel them when we are ready to use them. The skins slip off nicely when the chiles are partially thawed.
When we lived in New Hampshire we used to have a couple of boxes of chiles shipped out from Hatch, NM every fall. It was a lovely September tradition to work out on the deck on a sunny afternoon, under the big umbrella, roasting the chiles on the gas grill. I didn't mind doing the processing part this year, however, in the air conditioned comfort of our new kitchen.


Goose said...

I'm a friend of Ben's and a transplant from New Mexico. Carlsbad to be exact.

What a lovely post. Thanks for bringing a memory back to me. We used to go to the Albertson's parking lot for our green chillies. :)

clairz said...

It is so cool for me to know that someone in New York City is reading my blog and having nice memories of life in New Mexico. I really appreciate your comment!