Piment d'Espelette

Piment d'Espelette
Piment d'Espelette
SKU
101040 001
$15.71
$25.07
Net Weight:
2.4 oz
Select Size:

Piment d’Espelette or Espelette Pepper is a crucial part of French cooking. The part of French cooking that includes a spicy flare, that is. Botanically speaking, it is part of the Capsicum annuum family. In the Basque language, this spice is called Ezpeletako Biperra.

Loved for it’s signature smoky flavor that can easily add a little kick to subtle dishes, this spice is a perfect partner to the delicate art that is French cooking.

 

 

History of Piment d’Espelette

The history of the Espelette chile goes pretty far back, beginning with Columbus’ voyages. Many of the crew members and ship builders that were part of Columbus’ crew were Basque. When they returned home from their voyages, they brought things back with them to share with family and friends, much as today’s tourists would. It is thought that a man named Gonzalo Percaztegi on Columbus’ crew was responsible for bringing back some seeds and other goods to Basque. Some of the seeds were chile seeds, and these chiles thrived in Espelette, which is part of the Basque region of France. The rest, as they say, is history.

Cultivating these chiles became something the women of Espellete could do on their own terms. Through growing, drying, grinding, and then finally selling these chiles, the women were able to get a little bit of income and some independence in their lives. Men helped with cultivation as well, but the women really put a lot of thought and care into the process of growing the best chiles possible. This has helped create a sense of pride in the women of the area especially for the peppers and their power and place in the local economy. The phrase “l’argent de piment” is common of the area and it translates to “pepper money.” This phrase gives us a glimpse into the culture and appreciation surrounding the spice.

Every October, there is a festival for these plants called the “Celebration of Peppers” in the village of Espelette. This festival includes lots of singing, traditional Basque dancing, and plenty of eating. The entire village gets decorated with garlands of chiles and the scent of the chiles fills the air.

Piment d’Espelette was the first spice to receive the French AOC, or Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée. In English, this translates to the Controlled Name of Origin, which is a designation given to prestigious foods so that no one else can take the name and claim it is the same product. For example, legitimate champagne can only be called that if it comes from the Champagne region of France.

Until recently, foreigners were only able to taste this delicious spice if they traveled to Espelette themselves. It was also a good souvenir for home cooks and chefs alike, who would sometimes bring it back for their own kitchens. Now, thanks to some crafty cooks in New York City, Americans are becoming more familiar with this spice and are looking to include it in part of their diets.

 

Piment d’Espelette Cultivation

 

Growing these chiles is similar to growing chiles of other kinds. They require lots of sunlight, well-drained, fertile soils, and space to grow. 18-24 inches between plants is usually enough room for the plants to thrive and produce many chiles. These chiles like their soil to be full of organic material and like a decent amount of water, roughly one to two inches per week. These chiles have very few pest or illness problems.

They are picked by hand, and usually cut from the plant as pulling them off the plant causes damage to the plant. Traditionally, these chiles are dried from the homes all over Espelette. Women carefully tie 20-24 chiles to kitchen twine, date the twine with the date of harvest, and then drape them over windows or on terraces to let them dry. As they dry, the chiles shift from a bright red color to a deep burgundy.

Our Piment d’Espelette comes from the Espelette region of Western France, which is part of Basque country.

 

Cooking with Piment d’Espelette

 

This is a spice with a delicious heat that pairs nicely with subtle flavors to give a dish a little something extra without being overwhelming.

Use this Piment d’Espelette anywhere that you would use paprika. Soups, stews, and sauces all enjoy a flavor boost with Piment d’Espelette. Try it on eggs, roasted almonds, and with spaghetti and meatballs.

This spice is used frequently in seafood dishes in France. It is also used in the process of curing ham for coloring and a little bit of a flavor kick.

You can make a nice bread dip with this spice. Combine a small dish of olive oil with just a little bit of this spice and swirl it around for a few moments. Let it sit for about ten minutes to allow the flavors meld and then test a little bit to see if you like the flavor. If it is too strongly spicy for you, add a little bit more olive oil to dilute it. Conversely, if it is not spicy enough, add just a little more Piment d’Espelette.

As with all of our spices, Piment d’Espelette is extremely flavorful. Use less than you are anticipating you will need and then add more as you see fit.

 

Whole vs. Ground

 

Piment d’Espelette is one of those things that is traditionally ground and is almost never used whole. It has slowly replaced black pepper as the key pepper in dishes of France, but especially in the Basque region.

If you do find these chiles whole, they are probably being used as a decoration or in the creation of jams, jellies, and other sauces.

 

What Does Piment d’Espelette Taste Like?

 

Piment d’Espelette is fruity and has just a little heat. It is spicy, but never overpowering. It has a SHU range of 500-4,000 SHU, though it usually hovers at around 4,000 SHU.

 

Substitutions and Conversions

 

If you absolutely must substitute Piment d’Espelette for something else, paprika is the best option. Paprika has many different heat levels, but there is a familiar sweet, smoky flavor to paprika that can relate to Piment d’Espelette.

If you are using paprika, be sure to use something hot that isn’t smoked. If it is a mild paprika, it won’t give enough heat to a dish, and smoked paprika is often too smoky to compare to the subtle smokiness of Piment d’Espelette.

Cayenne Pepper can also be a suitable substitute, if you are absolutely in a pinch. Aleppo Pepper is also said to have a similar enough taste that it would be a good substitute, even though it is about two times as hot.

 

Spice Cabinet 101: Paprika
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Espelette Pepper

 

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size1 tsp

Amount Per Serving

Calories8

% Daily Value*

Total Fat0g1%

Saturated Fat0g0%

Trans Fat0g

Polyunsaturated Fat0g

Monounsaturated Fat0g

Cholesterol0mg0%

Sodium1.9mg0%

Total Carbohydrate1.5g1%

Dietary Fiber1.0g4%

Total Sugars0.3g

Added Sugars0g0%

Sugar Alcohol0.0g

Protein0.4g0%

Vitamin D0mcg0%

Calcium6mg0%

Iron1mg3%

Potassium64mg1%

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice. These values were calculated and therefore are approximate. For more accuracy, testing is advised.

5 out of 5
1 total ratings.

Terry B. (Verified buyer) 08/25/2018
flippin the pennsylvania I recently marinated some chicken breasts with some olive oil, lemon juice, sugar and flippin the bird. My wife said it was the most tender and flavorful chicken she has ever had. The tender I owe to the oil and lemon juice. The flavorful was definitely the flippin the bird. The pennsylvania pepper is perfect. Pepper and spices with no filler(salt). I'm hooked.
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