La Vera Smoked Sweet Paprika
La Vera Smoked Sweet Paprika
There is a region of Spain called La Vera which is known for its highly sought after paprika. This paprika is described as some of the most flavorful from anywhere in the world. It is even distinguished as a food with the Protected Denomination of Origin, as well. This status means that only paprika produced in this region can be called La Vera paprika, and it is carefully monitored to make sure that it is produced the same way every time for the best product. This paprika has a long and interesting history, as well as a huge cultural significance.
Paprika appears in other languages as it is a very popular spice globally. In Arabic it is called "filfil hila," in Mandarin it is "tian jiao," in French it is "piment doux," in German it is "paprika," in Hindi it is "deghi mirch" in Japanese it is called "papurika," in Portuguese it is "pimentao doce," in Russian you will hear "peret kransnij," and in Spanish of course it is called "pimenton."
Despite being essential to modern day Spanish cuisine, paprika was only introduced to Spain after Christopher Columbus brought back chiles from his voyages to the Americas. When Ferdinand and Isabella, two of the monarchs of Spain, tasted chiles for the first time they were amazed by the flavors and soon the monks of the La Vera region were cultivating chiles all over the place, eventually creating paprika from the chiles. For a long while however, it was only the monks and royalty that were able to enjoy this food. As chiles spread all over Europe, Spain was widely unamused by the spice in general, and the monks were able to get their paprika making down to an art. Paprika became increasingly popular in everyday cuisine during the 17th century as more people opened up to the idea of the spice in their food and it became more accessible to the public. Pimentón de la Vera, as paprika from this area was called, became a prized ingredient.
La Vera is a very beautiful region with a history just as rich as the flavor of the paprika it produces. It would be impossible to discuss the pimentón without also discussing La Vera. This place was once home to Carlos the Fifth, a Spanish Emperor, so many people visit the area to explore the path of the emperor. Since this beautiful region is only about two hours from Madrid, it is a popular destination for tourists who want to stray from the regular path. Throughout its history, La Vera is a region that has welcomed anyone who wants to see the beautiful waters and lush greenery of the area. There is also some very beautiful architecture there that students from around the world come to study.
Today, the most coveted and delicious paprika comes from near the original monastery garden where the monks first began growing chiles and making paprika. This garden was located in the Titer River Valley region of La Vera Spain. Paprika produced here is thought to be the absolute best quality ever produced.
Paprika comes from chiles. The chiles grown in the La Vera region are just your average Nora chiles that grow in the same way that other chiles grow, with lots of space between each plant and plenty of water. The mild climate of this region coupled with the plentiful rainfall makes this area prime for chile growth. The chiles ripen all the way from green to their red stage and then they are plucked by hand and dried over the course of two weeks. They are taken to small smokehouses that line the fields and are dried over a smoldering fire that is always smoke, never flames, and then they are pulverized into the red powder you know as paprika. The smoke houses have concrete floors and wooden grates set up a few feet above the fire. Each day the farmers return to the smokehouses and flip every individual chile by hand. Sometimes these farmers are joined by their entire family. These wood grids are where the chiles are laid out to be dried. The wood used in the smoking process is oak, and no other wood can be used or else the paprika would not have its signature taste.
The entire town surrounding the smokehouses smells of roasting peppers for days, leaving the residents hungry for this delicious, aromatic spice. After the roasting has finished, the chiles are ground up in an electric mill that is set to a very slow speed as the flavor would be affected by intense friction and heat that comes from milling it too quickly.
There is a huge amount of paprika that comes from this area and it is used all over Spain as well as exported for use around the globe. In 2008 the La Vera region produced nearly 2,800 tons of paprika. The chiles are harvested over a short period of time between mid-September and late October, but the paprika produced can store nicely for up to two years before it begins to lose its standout flavor.
Our La Vera Smoked Sweet Paprika comes from the Tietar River region of La Vera Spain.
This paprika is excellent on seafood and rice dishes, but it also makes a tasty addition to almonds.
Some traditional dishes that utilize the smokiness of paprika include the Spanish classic chorizo, as well as paella. You can't make these two things without paprika. In fact, the bright red color of chorizo comes from this spice. This color comes from the high levels of carotene in the chiles.
You can use this in anything from pasta dishes to deviled eggs, the classic dish that many people associate with the holidays. Be warned though, this is not your grandmother's flavorless paprika used only for decoration. This paprika is beautiful to look at but also beautifully flavorful, with a rich smokiness that is very noticeable.
It is also delicious in cheesy dishes, on grilled meats, or with roasted vegetables. A quick rub for chicken or vegetables before they hit the grill can be made by combining paprika with olive oil to taste and then using that mixture on the food. The spice imparts some extraordinary flavor while the olive oil helps keep the food from sticking.
This paprika ranks low on the SHU scale, usually ranking at about 500 SHU.
This paprika is so unique because it has been produced the same way for hundreds of years. It is a food under the Protected Denomination of Origin, so its production is carefully monitored and no other paprika can be called La Vera. This paprika is full of flavor and it is praised for its incredible lasting presence in Spanish food.
La Vera Smoked Sweet Paprika tastes like chiles with a smoky overtone. It is deeply rich and an exceptionally flavorful paprika.
La Vera Smoked Sweet paprika can not be substituted if you are making authentic Spanish food. A distant cousin is Hungarian Paprika, and depending on the recipe, you may be able to substitute with that.
We also carry Smoked Hot Paprika from the La Vera region of Spain, which would be a good substitute if you do not mind the added heat.
Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*