Espelette basque chilli pepper 

Plant, production, soil, gourmet, territory, chilli pepper growers.

The plant is called "gorria" (red) or "biper" (pepper). The Basque Espelette chilli pepper belongs to the Solanaceae family, to the Capiscum kind and to the annum species, and grows following an annual
vegetal cycle, under the climate of the Basque country. The chilli pepper isn’t the product of a genetic selection, and it is obviously reactive to the cryptograms of the humid and equatorial climates of the Basque Country.
The chilli pepper growers collect their own chilli seeds in order to plant them for the next season.

Depending on the soil and its moisture, the plant becomes between 0,60 and 1,50m high and gives between 15 and 30 chilli peppers weighing between 0,50 and 1,50kg.
The fruits are picked once they’re red, and their size goes from 6 to 14cm. Below 9° C, the chilli pepper stops growing.
Within 5 centuries, the Basque chilli pepper has acclimatized to the rainfall
of the Basque Country, (1400mm / year).

The soil: The plant needs a draining soil and a little slope can be perfect for the disposal of storm water (1400mm of rainfall/year in the Basque Country).The Basque chilli pepper has adapted to the acid soil of Ursuia and and of the demarcated area of production.

The production: In the midst of February, the seedling starts in green houses. At the end of March, the young seedling plants, which are about 4cm high, are earthed up one by one, and by hand, in earth clods of 6cmX6cm.These plants are regularly watered in greenhouses and replanted in the fields, in mid-May. To prevent evaporation and to avoid any kind of competition with weeds, the young plants are planted on plastic sheeting. To grow properly, they need some garden stakes. On one hectare, the density of planting can reach 27 000 plants.
This means that Biperduna needs 3600 wooden canes of 1,20m in height. The wooden stakes will have to bear some 30km of string, to enable the stems to withstand the violence of the Southern winds.
Harvest is all done by hand. It begins in early August and lasts until the end of November. One kilo of fruits has to be picked in order to make one kilo of chilli powder.In the old days, the chilli peppers were left to dry on the facades of the houses and it was an opportunity to keep long strings.
Nowadays, air-drying mostly takes place in a greenhouse, well ventilated and perfectly protected from dust, especially if the drying workshop is regularly cleaned, as we do in Biperduna.
To make the grinding easier, we dry the chilli peppers in wood fired stoves that could be found in most of the Basque houses before the seventies, or, in tobacco dryers, that appeared after the seventies.The chilli powder costs between 42 € and 140 €/ kilo, depending on the packing.

broyage piment espeletteThe taste of Espelette chilli pepper thrives with the warm Southern winds, “Haize Hegoa”.
The chillies are left 15 days to reach maturity. After that, they are ground so that the flavours of hay, tomato and pickled pepper can develop.
The intensity of Basque chilli is at level 4 on the Scoville scale which ranks from 1 to 10.
Ten is the intensity of the Cayenne chillies, far too spicy for our Basque palates…

Gourmet :
We use Basque chilli in our Basque Cuisine to give taste to our simplest dishes such as omelettes, fried eggs, grilled sardines or salads…
Sprinkled on grilled goat or sheep cheese, the Basque chilli breathes out its blend of flavours. We always add a pinch of Espelette chilli powder in our Basque recipes such as “piperade”, “axoa” or “marmitako”.
Basque chilli can have a fruity tomato flavour or a dry hay scent, but what makes it special is the aromatic aspect of it, rather than its intensity.Another delicious way of tasting Espelette chilli can be to relish it, in pickled thin lamellas with a pork terrine or with a filet of hake.One of the best combinations is to sprinkle copiously the Basque chilli powder on top of some duck “rillettes”.

Hot pepper carries(wears)
Attractive happiness jewels, brilliant in glass dough.
To sell on-line ...... + of information

Bijoux piments Boucles d'oreilles piment espelette

The territory: The planting area of Espelette chilli pepper was defined on the 1rst of June of 2000. It is managed by the French State through the INAO (National Institute of the Guaranteed Origins). The INAO delegates some of its interventions to the Certisud Enterprise from Toulouse .
With the quality control of the INAO, the chilli pepper growers have to fill many forms at each stage of processing, which doesn't improve the quality of their products in the end.
The management of the INAO represent a charge of approximately 3000 € a year, for each farmer, depending on the numbers of plants they've grown.These charges obviously increase the selling price of the product.

plant piment espeletteBasque chilli pepper production is managed by the Department of fraud which guarantees the fairness of origin, without any additional fee for the producer.
The planting area, (Protected Designation of Origin, PDO), is managed by the INAO in Pau .

The potential planting areas are divided into 10 communes which are part of Espelette Township . There are ten communes: Ainhoa, Cambo les Bains, Espelette, Halsou, Itxassou, Jatxou, Larressore, St Pée sur Nivelle, Souraide and Ustaritz which has an Oceanic microclimate, conducive to the growing of chilli peppers.The growers: 90 farmers in 2008 for approximately 40 hectares and 100 workers.
This activity creates a lot of seasonal jobs.
Each farmer employs seasonal workers to fulfil several jobs such as transplanting, planting, harvesting, weeding by hand and threading out strings of chilli peppers.
The students spend a good time during all these hours of work and they appreciate to earn their wages.
This production is an opportunity to exploit the planting land and it allows the chilli pepper growers to have a double activity.
Due to the importance of the agricultural value added, the land remains highly prized. Its value is high with a large turnover of 4 € per square meter.
Moreover, the farmer can build his dwelling on the farming lands, which is very handy to supervise the operations.

fleur piment basqueDue to the shortage of land, the land value reached 70 000 € per ha in the area of Espelette chilli, depending on the exposure, the site and the infrastructure.
A farmer can get settled on 0,5ha of land and grow Espelette chilli pepper as a main activity or he can subscribe to the solidarity of the MSA, (The mutual insurance for the agricultural wage earners): he will get a better income than the farmer who gets settled to make livestock in the same conditions, on 16 ha of land, in he Atlantic Pyrenees department.

He can moreover settle his house and his Company headquarter on the planting land.
The lack of lands generates jealousy and theft on the plantations. Several claims have been registered at the police station.

It is necessary to live near the crop to keep an eye on the chilli peppers and on the equipment.

Basque people like to party, and, on the last week end of October, the traditional Festival of the chilli pepper takes place in the streets of Espelette, little village of 2000 inhabitants.
Réalisation : Bansard Bruno