- Origin : Mexico
- Familly : Solanaceae
- Genre : Capsicum
- Species : Annuum L.
- Variety : Local variety of Capsicum annuum registered in the official catalogue of varieties under the denomination “GORRIA”.
- Plant : Annual herbaceous
- Size : 7 to 14 cm
- Climatic conditions : Tropical atmosphere (gentle heat & humid)
- Strength on Scoville scale (1 – 10) : 4
THE 3 TYPES OF ESPELETTE PEPPER
WHOLE FRESH ESPELETTE PAPPER
Whole fresh Espelette pepper is the non-transformed fruit, with no green colouring, a regular and conical shape. Its skin is smooth and it is between 7 and 14 cm long excluding the stem. It is for specialists (producers, transformers) to transform it into powder and other products.
CORD OF ESPELETTE PEPPER
A cord has at least 20 peppers and a maximum of 100 red coloured peppers, all regular sized, including between 7 and 14 cm excluding the stem. Manual stringing on the farm. Full fresh peppers are threaded by the stem onto a food-grade string.
ESPELETTE PEPPER POWDER
“Espelette Pepper Powder” , with an orange to dark reddish brown colour, is characterised by its intense aroma with fruity, grilled and/or hay notes. Associated with a strong, but not burning spicy taste, it is more or less long-lasting, expressed in the palate progressively and/or with a spicy sensation. On the palate, “Espelette Pepper” powder can have a sweet and/or bitter aftertaste.
The powder must contain particles no larger than 5 mm. It is forbidden to add colourings, additives or preservatives. Espelette Pepper Powder is exclusively obtained from peppers from a single farm.
EACH TERROIR IS UNIQUE BY NATURE AND CANNOT BE TRANSPOSED.
It is in the heart of a privileged natural environment that Espelette peppers grow.
Nestling between the hills and mountain ridges, close to the ocean, the Appellation area enjoys a microclimate with mild summer temperatures and generous rainfall favoured by the natural breeze created by this rugged terrain. Akin to a subtropical atmosphere, this bio-climate favours the harmonious growth and development of Espelette Pepper.
With the continuity of traditions and know-how, a hot and humid climate, Espelette Pepper’s terroir is defined by a production area with a limited label, covering 10 municipalities located in the western part of the Basque Country – Atlantic Pyrenees department :
-Souraïde and Larressore (entire area),
-Ainhoa, Ustaritz, Itxassou, Halsou, Jatxou, Cambo-les-Bains, Espelette, Saint-Pée sur Nivelle (part only).
It is this terroir which gives our spice its originality and its remarkable quality ….
Peppers must be produced, transformed & packed inside the geographical area.
Extract from PDO Espelette Pepper-Ezpeletako Biperra specifications.
FROM SEED TO POWDER
PDO ESPELETTE PEPPER PRODUCTION CYCLE
CHOICE OF SEEDS
During harvesting, each producer selects the seed from the easiest and most robust plants, both aesthetic and producing typical fruit. This production method, based on farmhouse selection, is what sets the industry apart and preserves the GORRIA rustic variety.
In March, the selected seeds are sown. The optimal germination temperature is between 20° and 22°C. It takes around fifteen days for the pepper to reach its “two cotyledon” stage.
When the first two leaves open up, a third leaf can be seen in the middle. This is known as the first true leaf. At this stage of development, each plant is transplanted in the hole pre-filled with compost. This ensures it has the space needed to grow. The young plants are kept for two months in the greenhouse.
As soon as the weather allows in April-May, the land is prepared. Planting takes place between 01 April and 15 July in open ground, bare soil or partially on mulch. Each pepper plant is placed 40 cm from the next so as to respect the maximum density required for the plant’s correct development. It is forbidden to irrigate one month after the beginning of the plot’s plantation and from 15 July.
After planting, weed control and training are the major concerns of all producers. Hoeing the rows favours the soil’s oxygenation. This avoids excess water and soil compaction which would lead to suffocation of the roots and consequently the plant’s death.
Thanks to the increase in temperatures and high rainfall, the plants grow quickly, reaching 1 metre high in mid-July. Flowering will continue until the first frost.
When the peppers turn red, it means it is time to harvest them. This is done manually on a staggered basis, from late August until the first frost or the 1st of December at the latest.
SORTING & RIPENING
Immediately after harvesting, the peppers are cleaned and sorted. All or some of them are intended to be transformed into powder. The peppers are distributed on racks or threaded on long cords for a ripening period (15 days at least). The peppers are slowly dried to enable them to harmoniously develop aromas evoking tomato, sweet pepper and many, many other nuanced flavours.
Once the peppers are ripe, they undergo stalking (ie. removing the stem) before being put back on racks for final oven drying (tobacco type dryer) at a moderate temperature. When removed from the oven, while they are still crispy, they are crushed to give pepper powder. The desired grinding, more or less fine, never leaves any grains whole is what gives the pepper its spicy taste.
*Espelette Pepper can also be used fresh after harvesting to make cords which can then be sold fresh or dried.
*It can be used fresh to create transformed products.
Packing the powder, for consumption, is defined by two types of container :
• Predefined and unique weight based sachet: 250g, 500g, 1kg and 5kg.
• Airtight closed pots.
OUR QUALITY GUARANTEES
These 2 logos certify true PDO Espelette Pepper.
This logo, property of the syndicate, guarantees the origin, know-how and quality of PDO Espelette Pepper.
The European PDO sign guarantees and protects the product’s name throughout the European Union.
APPELLATION AWARDING CRITERIA
Very strict specifications
To ensure the authenticity of PDO Espelette Pepper, the specifications describe point by point the rules to be respected: open-field farming, non-systematic phytosanitary treatment, harvesting by hand …
For more information :
download the specifications
To guarantee the consumer that the commitments of producers, transformers and packers have been respected, a full traceability system supports Espelette Pepper from the plot to the consumer, controlled by an independent certifying organisation.
For each batch of powder, a sample is taken by an approved technician and presented anonymously to a panel of judges who carry out an organoleptic evaluation in several phases. The colour, intensity of aromas and spiciness are just some of the criteria which are assessed.
For cords and whole fresh peppers, the product’s colour and homogeneity will be controlled.
All of these phases conclude with a summary which grants (or refuses) the appellation according to the product’s typicity.