October in La Extremadura truly is a magical place to be. The spring rains of the valley of La Vera have given way to sunshine, resulting in ripe red peppers glistening in the sun like gems in a sea of green. It is just then when the peppers are hand-picked by local farmers, just as they have been since the 16th century. Back then, it was the monks of the Yuste Monastery who cultivated this plant from the new-world as a way to add a little something extra to their cooking. The real revelation occurred when that first pepper was dried over an oak fire resulting in the start of Pimenton de la Vera.
After the sun-ripened peppers have been picked in October, they are brought to the smokehouse adjacent the field to be slowly bathed in oak-wood smoke for 15 days. The patient farmers carefully turn each pepper every 24 hours to ensure even drying. The lofting plumes of smoke and gentle heat magically transform these bright-red gems into something much deeper and more complex. The smoking process dries the plump peppers down by 75% and readies them for the next step in the painstaking process. Each pepper is gently liberated from its stem and seeds prior to being ground in a stone mill. The key ingredient, in addition to the perfect climate and careful smoking, is grinding the pods with stone wheels to ensure that friction does not build that would generate flavor-robbing heat. The result is a deep red velvety powder with an aroma that is without compare and a flavor that is truly an inspiration for Spanish cooking.
Why buy Certified Origin?
Pimenton de la Vera has been protected by a certified designation of origin since 1998 in order to provide you, the end consumer, with a guarantee that you really are getting the best. The government managed regulating council for Pimenton de la Vera carefully monitors all steps of growing, harvest, and production to ensure the strictest quality standards are met. No simple pepper can meet these standards, only those who follow the time-honored traditions exactly. Although there are many other paprika’s in the world, including other certified origin products such as our Pimenton from Murcia, only those grown and smoked in the La Vera valley may bear the certification. Compared side-by-side with other paprika’s, the aroma of the Pimenton de la Vera is so intense that it makes the scent of other products seem bland and insignificant.
For those of you who share our passion for cooking with the finest ingredients, and even those who share our bizarre facination with spices, you absolutely must try this Pimenton de la Vera. We highly recommend you get several brands and compare side by side; you’ll never go back the any other variety.
Cooking with Pimenton:
The magical quartet of traditional Spanish cooking is certainly olive oil, garlic, onion, and paprika. Saffron also deserves a front row seat in your Spanish cooking, however it is not nearly as significant as Pimenton and the rest of the magic quartet. Pimenton de la Vera is a very potent and powerful spice and if used in excess can easily turn a recipe bad. These tips can help assure success with this powerful kitchen companion:
- I use about ¼ teaspoon for every 2-4 serving in a recipe. Adjust the amount based on your experience; don’t experiment to start.
- Think of Pimenton like salt; a little adds flavor but too much can ruin a recipe.
- Pimenton must be heated to release flavor, so be sure to add it while your recipe is cooking.
- Pimenton burns easily, so only add it when liquids are present or under low heat.
- Pimenton may be used as a ‘rub’ for meats on the grill, however because of the heat the flavor will change as the natural sugars in the Pimenton caramelize.
- Chorizo contains Pimenton, so if a recipe calls for chorizo, then cut back the amount of Pimenton added.
- The flavor of pimenton is less intense if left uncooked, so feel free to use it as a garnish by sprinkling over eggs, chicken, or soups.
We don't just sell these products, we actually went to Spain to find the best, imported them, and use them in our own kitchen. If you ever have any questions on how to use Pimenton or any other Spanish ingredients, feel free to contact us or to call us at 888-Espana2. Buen Provecho! ~Marcos