Travel to New Mexico and you will see that red and green chilies are prevalent in cooking.
In fact, a common question asked in New Mexican kitchens is “red or green?” Of course you might prefer a mild chili rather than the hot chilies which are standard in southwestern cuisine.
What are the main differences between these two staples, and how are they used to create a culinary masterpiece?
Let’s take a look.
The red chile is one of the most popular ingredients in southwestern cuisine. Generally, the peppers are ripened until they turn red and then are hung up to dry.
Red chilies can be ground into a fine powder that is then used for extra spicy flavor in your meals. They can also be rehydrated for other culinary uses even after they are fully dried out.
There are infinite varieties of red chiles such as the guajillo red chile, chipotle red chile, and the chile de arbol, all of which range from medium to very hot when fully ripened.
Green chilies are typically used fresh, not dried, like red chilies. They are often served in salsas and other delicious New Mexican meals. They can be chopped and cooked in soups and stews, or eaten fresh on a salad or in a burrito. You may even try roasting them at your next summer barbeque.
You’ll find most varieties are considered relatively mild for a pepper, but there are a few green chilies that are hotter than some red peppers. Unlike their red counterparts green chilies need to be used quickly after picking.
Can’t eat your entire harvest? Green chilies can be frozen for later use or even pickled and stored in your pantry.
Which Chile to Choose
There are a number of varieties of red and green chilies.
Did you know that the only difference is how long they have been ripened? Some varieties of chilies are hotter than others, but allowing a green chile to turn red will produce the hottest result.
Take your time and get used to the intensity or heat of each chile pepper, it is best if you start with a milder chile.
Red and green chilies don’t only offer the ‘kick’ you desire in your meals but they have a great supply of nutrients too. For instance, both contain a surprisingly large amount of vitamin C, as well as good amounts of vitamin A, vitamin B, and iron, too.
Both red chilies and green chilies can turn an average meal into a culinary adventure. If you’re new to the world of chile peppers, do a little research and explore the differences, but start out slow, your mouth will thank you.
Experiment and have fun figuring out your ‘hotness’ level and create your own signature southwestern meals.
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