Growing ‘Piment d'Espelette’ Peppers


Photo by labordebrana/Pixabay

On a recent episode of Fine Cooking filmed in the Paris apartment of Patricia Wells, Ms. Wells was whipping up a chimichurri sauce for the steaks. As she took a pinch from a jar, she noted: “This is ‘Espelette’ pepper. I grow the peppers on my farm in Provence and grind them myself.” Unfortunately, I don’t have a farm in Provence, but I do have one in Texas. Today, I am confined to a great container garden and I do grow the ‘Espelette’ Pepper, dry and grind it myself.

My recipes very often list “Espelette, if available” in the ingredients. ‘Espelette’ pepper is somewhat like the familiar Italian-style red pepper flakes, but sweeter and fruitier. It tastes more like ripe peppers. ‘Espelette’ has about the same heat as ground black pepper.

Years ago, I found the seeds at a small seed company, but that source disappeared. Last year, I finally found the seeds again from Jim Duffy at Refining Fire Chiles, a passionate young pepper farmer. This year, he still has ‘Espelette’ but also a new category: Peppers of France and Spain! I’ve ordered a few new varieties from him — very exciting.

The new French and Spanish varieties appear to be mostly mild or sweet peppers.

3/22/2021 12:12:25 PM

Hi Carl - I too am growing these wonderful peppers this year from seeds I just received from France. Any tips you have on growing them would be greatly appreciated!

12/16/2020 10:34:29 PM

Hello, Wendy. I have attempted for three seasons running D'Espelette peppers from seeds my doctor brought back from his grandmother's garden in France. This year, I have a half-dozen healthy, range-y plants in Zone 12 in Tucson AZ. Together they have produced 2-2-1/2 dozen ruby red fruit ripening on the vine. About their growth habit: Will they, cut back, winter over to produce again next season, or are they true annuals/ I'll seed-save, of course, and still have a few seeds from the original fruit. I can put more in from seed in the spring. But I have found little information on life-span of the D'Espelette, and thought you might be able to help me find out more about the plants and their growth. Thank you. Carl Stoeckel, Tucson.

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