What is a Chipotle?
Chipotles are wood smoke-dried jalapeno peppers. The wood smoke serves to preserve and enhance the flavors in ways that simply drying does not. There is a complex chemical reaction that occurs having to do with the tannins in the smoke and the oils in the chilies. Chipotles originated in Mexico. The word Chipotle comes from a Nahuatl word for, not surprisingly, “smoked chile pepper”. The jalepenos remain on the plant to ripen until they turn deep red. (The familiar green jalapeno in your grocery store is simply unripened fruit.)
The ripened chilies are spread out on racks in closed chambers and smoke is passed over them…. and the craftsmanship of smoking chilies begins. They smoke at about 165˚F/ 74˚C. From the smoker chipotles go out into the world to spread their intrinsic beauty, savor, and enjoyment of life. This smoking process makes chipotles the only ingredient in Chicaoji that does not satisfy the typical standards for raw food. I’m fairly certain that chipotles are gluten free and GMO free.
I seek the middle ground with Chicaoji’s spiciness.
I try for a medium heat for Chicaoji that a wide range of people can enjoy. The goji berry/cacao combination that started the whole Chicaoji thing needs just a little chile heat….. more like a kiss on the cheek than a slap. However, Chicaoji’s heat does vary from batch to batch. That is the nature of chilies. Pick two chilies off the same branch of the same plant: one may be cool as a bell pepper and the one next to it make you cry.
I really enjoy that people who “don’t like spicy food” slather Chicaoji all over their food although for some it’s still too hot….So it goes…. When I sample Chicaoji at the Lopez Island Farmers Market (using GMO-free organic corn chips) I get such a wide range of reactions but generally it seems I’ve found a middle way.
Where to get Chipotles
Mycological Natural Products in Eugene, Oregon provides Chicaoji’s chipotles. These are some of the best chipotles I have tasted. If you like to use chilies in your recipes check your their excellent selection of “Terra Dulce” certified organic chile peppers from around the world. They are mainly a source for ordering wildcrafted and certified organic cultivated, dried and fresh, culinary and medicinal mushrooms.
I asked the Mycological staff for information regarding these chipotles. Here is what they wrote:
“We purchase those from a family farm in the Southwest. We’ve been working with them since 2007, and they have great quality, and take much care in their growing, drying and packing of the chiles. They have many generations of family farming under their belts! MycoLogical also hand sorts each batch when they arrive at our facility, this ensures everyone will enjoy the absolute finest quality of chile peppers available!”
If you are looking for chipotles for your home recipes Mycologial sells them in 2 oz packs and in bulk. Check them out.
Benefits of Chipotle chilies
Besides the fact that chipotles are delicious and nutritious, there are those who say that chilies are actually good for you. However, I’m not a medical expert so I won’t make any health claims for chilies. Click HERE for a little info from Ehow.com.
How to make your own Chipotles
The Fiery-Foods.com folks have a short article about the history of the chipotle and other smoked chilies, woods used to smoke chipotles, equipment you might have on hand to make homemade chipotles, and brief descriptions of chipotle smoking techniques. They also have a bit about smoking habaneros.
New Mexico State University provides this interesting web page about chilies in general such as how to make the burning sensation stop, why are chile peppers hot, what are the hottest chile peppers, are ornamental chilies edible, and more interesting bits of info..