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A tradition across generations: roasting of the Pueblo chile

Pueblo green roasted chile
Posted at 12:29 PM, Sep 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-23 18:55:28-04

PUEBLO — The 2022 Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival kicks off on Friday and if you're planning to be there this weekend, there's no doubt you will see a lot of chile roasting.

It's a Pueblo tradition passed down over generations and thousands of people will get to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of the roasted chile again during this year's festival. DiTomaso Farms in Pueblo has been roasting their chiles since mid-August and, along with the other vendors, brings their equipment to the event to sell the roasted chile to festival goers.

Joe DiTomaso with the farm said he remembers when the festival being only a block long with about six vendors when it first started decades ago. Now, the event is much larger, but the chile roasting has stayed the same.

"It's been around a long time, and it's just grown over the years. I remember my uncle starting in the eighties roasting chiles," he said.

DiTomaso said they begin picking the chiles during mid-August. Not long after, the chiles will hit the iron cage to turn into the Pueblo staple: roasted green chile. They're cooked for around 10 minutes over an open flame, tumbling in the cage. When the chiles start to slide down the walls of the cage, that's when a spray of water comes to cool them off, taking off most of the charred skin in the process. The chiles are then packaged up and sold fresh at the festival.

DiTomaso said he always enjoys meeting people who are new to the event and might not know much about the crowd favorite chile.

"There's a lot of people that never have purchased chile before and don't know anything about roasted chile, and, you know, you have to explain to them and go through the process. It's kind of interesting to talk to some people that don't know, and it's a new experience for them for the first time," he said.

DiTomaso said the farm will bring around 36,000 pounds of chiles to the festival and hopes to keep picking chile back at their farm until the first frost of the season.
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