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What Is Espelette Pepper?

A Guide to Buying, Cooking, and Storing Espelette Pepper

Espelette Peppers Drying in France

Espelette Pepper has recently made the headlines across the world as one of the "best chile peppers" . Its rich colour, delicious sweet flavour and a heat level only reaching 4000 maximum on the Scoville rating makes Espelette one of he most attractive chilies available. Whats the catch? Espelette chile pepper is one of the rarest and most difficult to source, it also happens to be very expensive! In this article we will delve deep into the one of the most expensive chile peppers in the world, Espelette Pepper.


What Is Espelette Pepper?

Espelette Pepper comes from the Basque region of France, it is known as "piment d espelette".

The peppers are popular dried as well they are often sold in a powder form.

The Espelette peppers are cultivated in the French village of Espelette, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, hence its namesake. The town of Espelette lies in the Labourd province interior of Basque and this quaint little village is best known for the Espelette pepper. While touring Espelette we found beautiful homes drying peppers from balconies, and local shops selling the Espelette peppers.

Espelette Peppers in the Basque Region

Now Espelette is an AOC product and an APO product since August 2002. AOC stands for Appellation d’origine contrôlée, or “controlled designation of origin”.

Where to Buy Espelette Pepper

Look no further! We get our Espelette Pepper right from the source, Espelette, the Basque Region of France. Its certified and guaranteed to be the real deal!

Spice Blends Using Espelette Pepper

This traditional spice blend comes from the Basque Region of France and Spain. The rolling hills give way to stunning white plastered villages adoring the crown jewel of dried peppers, the Espelette Pepper! This blend is made from this luxurious chile pepper! With fruity, slightly smoky flavours and hints of citrus this will quickly become one of your favourite blends!

Origins of Espelette Pepper

The Espelette peppers originated in the Caribbean region, Espelette pepper was introduced into France in the by navigator Juan Sebastian Elcano, the first explorer to circumnavigate the globe, but it was adopted by the Basque people in the 16th century. The peppers grow from a green colour and matures to a vibrant red colour.

When it comes to Basque cuisine in France and Spain, the Espelette pepper reigns supreme. The Basque region straddles the borders between France and Spain, both nations have influenced the area's cooking techniques with this pepper.

What Does Espelette Taste Like?

Many are asking "why is Espelette so popular?". Espelette tastes fruity and fresh, with very mild hints of heat due to its lower Scoville. Depending on the season, you may notice slightly different levels of heat, and also hints of smokiness. If the Espelette pepper is ground into a powder, you'll notice a stronger smoky sweetness flavour profile.

Fresh Espelette Peppers

Growers in Espelette have to follow specific regulations set forth by the trade union of Espelette peppers and thus the peppers are treated similar to wine growing in this region. These strict growing conditions make Espelette incredibly sought after by chefs across the globe.

Cooking With Espelette Pepper

Cooking with this versatile chile pepper couldn't be easier. replacing your everyday chile pepper with Espelette is guaranteed to elevate your next recipe! However, if you would like to be as traditional as possible then try to stick with cooking from the Basque region of France. Often used to season delicate salads, marinading mates such as poultry or adding into cream sauces.

Dried Espelette Peppers

Our favourite way of cooking with Espelette has been adding it to Spanish Paella or Italian white wine sauces to add a splash of colour, sweet fruity flavour and a tiny bit of heat! Be sure not to burn the pepper, as it can get quite bitter if you do so.

Recipes Using Espelette Pepper

If you are looking for recipes featuring Espelette Pepper than look no further. Our Spanish Paella recipe can be adapted by just adding two tsp of Espelette pepper to it during when you add the paprika. You can also substitute the paprika completely for it!

Another traditional recipe from the Basque Region of France is Piperade. A delicious warming stew perfect for a sunny day!

Best Substitutes For Espelette Pepper

Honestly speaking, replacing Espelette for something else is difficult to do so, not to mention many French would call it a "crime". If you are in desperate need to find a substitute than you can replace it with a high quality Spanish Paprika. Below are two that have worked for many!

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