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Growing ‘Piment d'Espelette’ Peppers

| 1/23/2019 11:34:00 AM

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.

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