A cultural and culinary icon:le piment d'Espelette

Espelette Travel Blog

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Espeplette pepper powder

Located 25 km from Biarritz airport,the village of Espelette(1700 inhabitants) in Labourd welcome every year

on the last week-end of October thousands of people to celebrate the area's most famous agricultural product :

piment d'Espelette,Espelette peppers,the most characteristic feature of the Basque cuisine.

Since 1967 is established the Celebration of Peppers and the festival features music,dance,games and food.

Since years, a lot of Basq cooks use the Espelette pepper in place of black pepper in many dishes .It is considered as

not hot(with a relative heat rating of 4 out of 10 on the Scoville scale).

These sweet-hot peppers are produced in only 10 small Basque villages(growing area of 3000 acres) and the Espelette's pepper is classified,since 2000,

as an AOC,Appelation d'Origine Controlée,which means that they are grown within the 10 listed villages and dried by the sun

for at leat 15 days( the best is more than 10 weeks).

Espelette pepper

History

When Christopher Colombus brought peppers to Europe from the Carribean,he thought that these were black peppers

and it wasn't until the 17th century that is was placed in its own genus.

It was locally introduced by a Basque sailor,member of Colombus crew and started to grow in Espelette in 1650;

Firstly it was use as a medicine,then as a preservative for meat and ham before eaten as a condiment.

By the late 1700's ,the pepper was renowned and heavily influenced the Basque cuisine.

Production:

-The seeds:at the end of each season,the farmer selects seeds for the following year

-Growing:the seeds are planted in March under glass,between 20° and 26°

-Plantation begins in fields in May

-Flowering starts in June until October and the pepper,green in colour after fertilization reaches its final size around 7 to 14 cm

in 3 weeks and become bright red.

Espelette pepper powder

-Harvesting,done by hand,from August to November,only the red peppers are harvested

-Transformation:

Fresh peppers are sometimes available at markets

Strings of 20 peppers of the same size are usually sold in the SouthWest of France.

Piments d'Espelette are also available in dried and powdered form or in the form of paste.

Use:

-to rub the Bayonne's ham

-cooking:piperade,omelets,salads,chicken,lamb,rabbit,veal,stew,fish, pies,ratatouille,in sausages,in bread,honey,oils,cherries,liqueur

and chocolate!....

bernard69 says:
@Sylvia:many thanks,Basq cuisine is my French fav!!For me and many foreigners,the Basq area is the best region to live in France cos of the relaxed rythm of life,famous cuisine and agricultural products,climate,the proximity of Pyrenees for skiing,the ocean for surfing or bathing,kind people...
Posted on: Mar 13, 2010
sylviandavid says:
I love this information... Even the post office has strings of peppers.... Wonderful pictures! sylvia
Posted on: Mar 13, 2010
rotorhead85 says:
Great info, thanks Bernard. I could do that late October one year - sounds awesome. Always wanted to tour France to learn about wines & cheeses, now piment d'Espelette!
Posted on: Feb 06, 2009
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Espeplette pepper powder
Espeplette pepper powder
Espelette pepper
Espelette pepper
Espelette pepper powder
Espelette pepper powder
Post office with strings of Espele…
Post office with strings of Espel…
shop and Espelette pepper
shop and Espelette pepper
Hotel with strings of Espelette  p…
Hotel with strings of Espelette …
nobody in the streets at noon in N…
nobody in the streets at noon in …
Butchers in Espelette
Butcher's in Espelette
Peppers producers trade union in …
Pepper's producers trade union in…
Nobody in the centre of Espelette
Nobody in the centre of Espelette
The production of pepper
The production of pepper
chocolate with Espelette pepper!
chocolate with Espelette pepper!
a shop selling strings of peppers …
a shop selling strings of peppers…
house with Espelette pepper
house with Espelette pepper
house with strings of pepper
house with strings of pepper
Danielle,Bérengère and Peter,Bé…
Danielle,Bérengère and Peter,B…
here we sell French espadrilles
here we sell French espadrilles
Basq espadrilles
Basq espadrilles
Espelette
photo by: bernard69