Sweet, locally-grown red pimentón peppers are slowly dried over oak coals, which imbue them with a rich, smoky flavor that imparts a savory depth and gorgeous color to any dish.
Our smoked pimenton paprika comes from a single family-owned fabrica in the Extremadura region of western Spain famous for pimenton de la vera, which has a Designation of Protected Origin status from the European Union.
Origin: Extremadura, Spain
Process: Dried over oak coals, then ground
Ingredients: 100% pimenton de la vera DOP (Capsicum annuum)
Paprika. What are the two best-known countries that produce it? Spain and Hungary, right? Well, paprika, and all peppers for that matter, are actually relatively new to Europe.
Christopher Columbus brought peppers back to Spain from the New World just a few hundred years ago. In Spain, the seeds were distributed to the monasteries, who planted the peppers and taught their communities how to farm them. Centuries later, the Extramadura region in Western Spain has a protected designation of origin for their world-famous smoked paprika, so we flew to Extramadura to see the harvest for ourselves.
The paprika season starts in February when farmers plant young paprika seedlings in long rows. By September, the plants are chock full of firetruck red peppers resembling a witch's fingers. (Side note: we're so ready for Halloween! #scaryspice) That's when they get picked and brought over to the two-story smokehouses located on each farm.
The lower level of the smokehouse an oak wood fire that burns for 24 hours a day. The peppers are loaded into the upper level, where they spend 2 weeks getting smoked over the gentle heat. Every day or two, the farmers use shovels to turn the peppers over so they dry out evenly and completely. The farmers know the peppers are completely dry by the crunch the peppers make when they're turned over.
The smell of the smokehouses wafts over fields of tobacco, the other major crop grown in Extramadura's fertile soil, filling the air with a fragrance reminiscent of a cigar bar filled with leather books... in the best way possible.