Guernica Chile Peppers
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Guernica chile peppers are elongated and slender pods, averaging 6 to 9 centimeters in length and 2 to 3 centimeters in diameter, and have a conical shape tapering to a blunt, rounded point on the non-stem end. The skin is glossy, taut, smooth, and waxy, ripening from green to bright red when mature. Underneath the thin skin, the flesh is crisp and pale green, encasing a central cavity filled with round and flat, cream-colored seeds. Guernica chile peppers have a mild, sweet, and grassy flavor with little to no heat.
Guernica chile peppers are available in the summer through fall.
Guernica chile peppers, botanically classified as Capsicum annuum, are a Spanish variety that belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Also known as Gernika and Pimientos de Gernika, Guernica chile peppers are named after a town in the Basque Country of Spain that is home to one of the country’s largest produce markets. Guernica chile peppers are predominately harvested when green and still immature and are well-known for their mild, smoky flavor when lightly charred with olive oil and sea salt. To protect the taste and appearance of the pepper due to the pepper’s increased popularity, Guernica chile peppers are labeled as a protected Basque pepper and must be grown within fifty kilometers of the Cantabrian zone of Spain. The peppers are given a seal on their packaging to indicate that qualifications in terms of size, shape, skin texture, uniformity of color, and visual appearance have been met.
Guernica chile peppers are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, which are antioxidants that can help repair cell damage and boost the immune system. The peppers are also a good source of vitamin K, manganese, copper, iron, and potassium.
Guernica chile peppers are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as roasting, grilling, and frying. The peppers are prepared similarly to the padron pepper and are pan-fried in olive oil. Once the skin blisters, the peppers are finished with sea salt and are traditionally served as finger food. Guernica chile peppers can also be roasted or grilled, which imparts a deep smoky flavor, and the cooked peppers can be layered into sandwiches, tossed into soups, topped over pizzas, stuffed with cheeses or meats, mixed into egg preparations, or stirred into rice dishes such as paella. In addition to fresh applications, mature Guernica chile peppers can be dried and made into a powdered spice. Guernica chile peppers pair well with citrus, balsamic vinegar, creamy sauces, cheeses such as manchego, parmesan, and goat, onions, garlic, sundried tomatoes, white wine, meats such as steak, chorizo, or ham, and shellfish such as lobster, crab, and scallops. The fresh peppers will keep 1-2 weeks when loosely stored whole and unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
In the Basque Country of Spain, Guernica chile peppers are one of the most common pinxto, pincho, or tapa, which is a petite snack served in bars. The name pincho translates to mean spike, an appropriate name as the small peppers are commonly served with a toothpick. This method of eating with a toothpick provides easy consumption and as a way for the bars to keep track of how many pinchos each patron has consumed. Guernica chile peppers are also grown in home gardens throughout the region and are used as an everyday pepper. Basque Country is known for its unique terroir of limy soil mixed with high rainfall and a mild climate, which is what contributes to the Guernica chile pepper’s unique appearance and taste.
Chile peppers are native to Central and South America and were introduced to Europe via Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 15th and 16th centuries. Many of these original pepper varieties were very spicy due to South America’s sunny and warm climate, but as they were cultivated and bred in cooler climates such as France and Spain, some varieties were selected for their sweet rather than spicy flavor. Guernica chile peppers are one example of peppers that have been developed for their softer flavor, milder heat, and tender texture. Today Guernica chile peppers are predominately grown in the Province of Vizcaya. Since 1993 it has been an officially protected Basque pepper, and when sold and marketed in Europe, it must display a seal indicating its high-quality level and origin as having been grown within fifty kilometers of the Cantabrian zone in Spain, which is located between the Cantabrian Mountains and the Bay of Biscay. Some Guernica chile peppers may also be cultivated in the United States and Mexico, but the flavor and appearance may vary from the Spanish-grown peppers.
Recipes that include Guernica Chile Peppers. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Spicie Foodie||Sautéed and Salted Gernika Peppers|
|Good Life Farm||Roasted Basque Peppers|
|About.com||Mangetout with Gernika Peppers and Spiced with Red Chili Flakes|