This vibrant red powder is a smoky, woodsy take on paprika that holds the special quality designation Denominaciòn de Origen Protegida (DOP). An indispensable flavoring in Spanish cuisine, true Pimentòn de la Vera has no substitute.
Pimentón's story begins with the Spanish monks that accompanied the conquistadores to America. On the return trip, the monks brought back many crops, including the ñora pepper, a round red pepper that the Incas typically sun-dried and used to spice their food. Back at their monasteries in the county of La Vera in Extremadura, western Spain, the monks were able to cultivate the ñora in the rich soil, but lack of sun prevented proper drying.Their solution was to dry the peppers with oak smoke, a practice that is continued to this day and that gives Pimentón de La Vera it’s characteristic smoky flavor.
Still grown in La Vera today, the peppers are allowed to ripen on the vine before they are picked for smoking. Logs of oak are burned down to a fiery ember, over which the peppers are smoked until all the moisture has been coaxed out. This is an exacting process; if the peppers are heated too quickly or at too high a temperature, they will simply cook in their own juice. Next, the peppers are slowly ground into a fine powder, with the percentage of seeds left in determining whether the final product will be hot (picante) or sweet (dulce).