Pays Basque – Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Imported from South America, the Espelette pepper is an emblem of the Basque Country, its gastronomy and its culture. It now enjoys an AOC controlled designation of origin, which limits its production area and imposes rules to follow for its production.
This pepper takes its name from the small town of Espelette, located in the Basque Country.
The production of Espelette pepper is based on knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Its human-sized culture is limited to 10 villages. More than quantity, quality matters.
Espelette peppers are red in colour when ripe and available in three different versions:
- Powdered: The powder is made by crushing peppers from a single holding. The crushing is performed after a ripening period. It is dried in the oven and the resulting Espelette pepper powder is orange to reddish brown in colour.
- As a string: Peppers are strung together in pairs, threes or fours, red in colour with an even conical shape, 7 to 14 cm in length. A string contains 20, 30, 40, 60, 80 or 100 peppers of equal size.
- Whole fresh peppers: Used exclusively for processing, fresh peppers do not have any green colouring and are an even conical shape. They are 7 to 14 cm in length.
Espelette pepper is primarily used as a spice in all of its forms. It should not be confused with bell peppers from the Basque Country, which are a mild and sweet green vegetable.
How to serve it
Espelette pepper is great for everyday use!
In strings (either fresh or dried), strips can be used in your dishes, sauces or marinades, or even softened in oil like garlic or onions. They can also make an appearance in cooking liquids (pasta, rice) or stew recipes.
You can even grind your peppers (including seeds) down to a powder once the string has been dried for around two months.