Gourmet discoveries and Espelette chillies over and over
On October 29, it was that time again and the small Basque village of Espelette celebrated its annual chili festival. Again at the festival this year : the Chilimafia – but only as visitors.
This chili festival is an indescribably beautiful experience for all chili fans and friends of good food. During 2 days in this village celebrates like crazy, and many thousands of visitors celebrate with the locals, and enjoy the culinary delights that there are: from waffles, pickled chilies, chili meat or even chili cheese to terrines with chilies or even chili chocolate – there are no limits to creativity. Of course, all products are made in the region by regional producers exclusively with the Espelette chili.
This chili variety is also popular because it is a very gentle chili variety with a short-lasting heat: with its just under 1,500 – 2,500 Scoville, the Piment d’Espelette, as they say in French, is a chili variety that even children and chili beginners can eat without any problems.
This also makes all the chili products with Espelette chili interesting for a wider clientele, because the spiciness is a real pleasure for everyone, and does not involve any “risk”.
This is how the Espelette chili is processed into chili powder
The harvest of Espelette chili starts in August and ends only from the first frost in December. The chili peppers are dried on a grid for about 15 days, where they develop their aroma through slow drying in the air. After that, they are de-stemmed and distributed again on grids, on which they are then dried in the oven at a moderate temperature final.
After the procedure, the dried chili peppers are processed into chili powder.
In the old days, the producers used to string the chilies on threads with the help of a needle and hang them on the facades of the houses. The Espelette chilies hung there for up to 2 months before being dried in a bread oven, and made into powder.
Even today, the chili peppers are strung on the threads and hung, but this is done more for decorative purposes. So we could marvel at this technique at the Chilifest and have also brought you a few photos
Interesting facts about the Espelette chili
- The Espelette chili pepper is not, as you might think, a vegetable, but is botanically a fruit.
- The Espelette chili belongs to the variety “Gorria” which exists exclusively in the Basque Country. Gorria means “red” in Basque.
- Chilis were introduced in the Basque Country around the year 1650. The Basque women planted the chilies in their vegetable beds to replace the peppers, which were very expensive at that time.
- Originally, Espelette chilies come from the American continent, more precisely from Mexico.