Piment d’Espelette is a rare, hand-harvested red chile pepper grown in the Basque region of France (the southwest area bordered by Spain, between the Pyrénées and the Bay of Biscay). Prized for its fruity flavor and fragrant red pepper aroma, Piment d'Espelette Powder AOP offers a heat that is warm and food-friendly, complementing many types of cuisine.
Authentic Piment d'Espelette has long been prized by the best chefs around the world. A coveted addition to marinades and dry rubs for chicken, pork or seafood, this sweet-spicy pepper powder also adds oomph to deviled eggs, mayonnaise, and even butter for popcorn. Bake gougères with Gruyère cheese and Piment d’Espelette, or add to creamy roasted red pepper soup—or a Basque-style ratatouille.
AOP Designation and the Harvesting of Piment d'Espelette
With a shared vision of excellence and sustainability, a group of dedicated Basque Piment d'Espelette farmers developed a strict standard by which to preserve this traditional local food, and in 2007, Piment d’Espelette’s AOP (Appellation d'Origine Protégée) was officially recognized by the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine.
The AOP designation is a European provenance guarantee, acknowledging that Piment d'Espelette is authentic only if grown and processed in the region that, with its specific terroir, grants the coveted spice its inimitable flavor profile. This verdant region is a tiny, 22-square-kilometer sweep of farms across 10 villages in and surrounding Espelette—the French Basque town near Bayonne. It enjoys the growing conditions and specific terroir of the French Basque countryside: slightly acidic soil and a very wet, hilly terrain overgrown with deciduous forest.
Under the AOP standard, only hand-harvesting of the pepper is allowed and specific processing considerations must be adhered to, from the type of wooden racks the peppers are dried on to the specific size mesh used for creating the powder. After at least 15 days of open-air drying, the peppers are tasted by trained tasters to ensure perfect and consistent flavor.
Our dear friend Kitty Keller of KL Keller Imports works directly and exclusively with one of these farmers, Vincent Darritchon of La Maison du Piment. In addition to Piment d'Espelette Powder AOP, La Maison du Piment also makes a stunning Espelette Pepper Jelly (Piment d'Espelette Gelée de Marie Jeanne).
Piment d'Espelette is now available in a 250 gram bulk size. Please note, bulk packages are vacuum-sealed and should be kept in an airtight container once opened to maintain freshness.