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Our History

Family Tradition

Mama Ortega

The 150 year Ortega® tradition all started with Maria Conception Jacinta Dominguez Ortega, or as we like to call her, Mama. 

In the 1800s, Mama and her beloved family lived in a small three-room adobe home in Ventura, California, common to the Spanish settlements of the time. Inside the thick adobe walls, Mama Ortega created a loving home for her 13 children (yes, 13!) centered around their tiny kitchen.  

With a small charcoal-burning stove, Mama Ortega whipped up memorable meals her family loved with homegrown, handpicked and handmade ingredients.

From the juicy red tomatoes for her sauces, to the corn she patted into mouthwatering tortillas, everything Mama lovingly prepared for her family was fresh; every dish was special. And just like today, home-cooked meals were a time for Mama and her family to come together, enjoy good food and entertain each other with stories of their day. 

“It all started with chile peppers.”

Mama's memorable cooking did more than just bring her family together. 

One of Mama’s sons, Emilio, moved to New Mexico in 1890 and became fascinated with chiles and their flavors. He preferred the state’s popular big red chile when it was still young and green because it was tender and mild in flavor. 

He decided to return home to California a few years later and brought chile pepper seeds with him that he planted at his family’s home. Ventura provided the ideal climate for growing these peppers, and Emilio had so many chiles he had to give them away. He learned just how much everyone loved his peppers, and that’s when he knew he had something special.

When he discovered how to roast, peel, seed and wash the chiles to preserve and package them, he founded the first commercial food operation in the state of California. The Ortega Chile Packaging Company was born, right inside Mama’s kitchen!

Just like Mama Ortega, Emilio took great pride in the food he prepared and focused on providing the highest quality peppers to create the very best salsas and chiles.

Continuing the Tradition

In 1946, the Ortega family sold the business, and the new owners continued to build and modernize the business. 

B&G Foods purchased the Ortega brand in 2003 to continue the rich heritage of the Ortega family and a long tradition of commitment to quality. Today, when a family picks up a can of chiles or a box of taco shells, they know they are getting the very best.

By sharing our collection of delicious Mexican recipes, we hope to help you create fond memories of great meals shared with your family. It might be one hundred and fifty years later, but we're still inspired by Mama's cooking. We hope you will be too.