The Piquillo Chile Pepper

The Piquillo Chile pepper is a type of chili, Capsicum annuum, that is traditionally grown in northern Spain close to the town of Lodosa. There are different types of Peppers, one of which is the Piquillo Pepper. It has a sweet flavor with no heat and fruits that are about 7 cm long and well-suited for growing in pots. The Spanish word for “little beak” is where its name comes from. Piquillo peppers are used in soups and other dishes as well as “tapas” that are served stuffed.

Preparation of Piquillo Pepper

The peppers are typically hand-picked during the two harvest seasons, which are from September to December. Despite their small size, they have a distinct sweet and spicy flavor that is more akin to bell peppers than chili peppers because they are roasted over embers. They are then deseeded by hand, marinated with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and then grilled once more in a grill bar for added flavor and texture. Finally, they are packed into jars or tins for sale. Frequently served as tapas, piquillo peppers are stuffed with cheese, meat, or seafood.

Description and Taste of Piquillo Pepper

Averaging 8 to 10 centimeters in length and 4 to 5 centimeters in diameter, piquillo Chile peppers have uniform, slightly curved to straight pods with a conical shape that tapers to a distinct point on the non-stem end. When mature, the skin turns from green to a dark red color and is smooth, waxy, and taut. The flesh is thick, crisp, and pale red beneath the skin, encasing a cavity in the center that is full of numerous round and flat, cream-colored seeds. Raw piquillo Chile peppers have a mild to moderately sweet and tangy flavor. After being cooked, the pepper’s flavor takes on smoky undertones and intensifies into a savory-sweet flavor.

Season and Availability of Piquillo Pepper

There are Piquillo Chile peppers available from summer to fall.

Current Facts About Piquillo Pepper

The mature, sweet Piquillo Chile pepper, Capsicum annuum, is a member of the Solanaceae, also known as the nightshade family. Piquillo, also known as Pimiento del Piquillo de Lodosa, is a Spanish word that means “little beak” and refers to the pepper’s resemblance to a pointed bird’s beak. 

Piquillo Chile peppers are commonly roasted, peeled, and preserved in jars to produce a sweet, smoky, and tangy flavor. Piquillo Chile peppers are very mild, measuring 500 to 1,000 SHU on the Scoville scale. In 1987, this method of preservation earned the peppers a Denomination of Origin, a designation that recognizes and guards the distinctive flavor of preserved peppers produced in particular areas of Spain. Piquillo Chile peppers, also known as the “r gold” of Lodosa, are popular in Spanish cooking and are used both raw and cooked. They are known for their sweet, tangy flavor.

Chilly with White Background

The Nutritional Value of Piquillo Pepper

Piquillo chilies are a great source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that can help the body produce collagen and strengthen the immune system. Potassium, vitamin A, folate, manganese, and vitamin K are also present in peppers. 

Applications of Piquillo Pepper

The best uses for piquillo chile peppers include roasting, frying, and baking, both raw and cooked. The peppers can be used in any recipe that calls for bell peppers when they are raw, and they can also be chopped into salads, put on appetizer plates, eaten as a snack, or pureed into sauces. Additionally, piquillo chile peppers are traditionally grilled and stuffed with ingredients like shredded cod, Manchego cheese, fresh farmers’ cheese, spicy sausage, or other regional favorites from Spain. In addition to stuffing, the peppers can be roasted and then preserved in olive oil, citric acid, and salt. They can also be served on burgers, mixed into pasta, layered on fajitas, or blended into a soup. With that, you can use this pepper in cooking and serving mushrooms.  

Additionally, piquillo chile peppers can be dried and ground into a powder, which is referred to and known as paprika. Tomatoes, onions, garlic, mushrooms, goat, cottage, and mozzarella cheeses, grains like barley and rice, meats like sausage, ground lamb, and beef, fish like cod, salmon, monk, tuna, and halibut, cooked eggs, pine nuts, pistachios, cilantro, cumin, oregano, lemon, dill, and citrus go well with piquillo chile peppers. Fresh peppers can be kept in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks if they are kept loosely packed, whole, and unwashed.

Ethnic and Cultural Info of Piquillo Pepper

Since ancient times, Piquillo Chile peppers have been grown and harvested by hand in Navarra, Spain. After being picked, the peppers are roasted over fires to produce a sweet and smoky flavor. The skin of the peppers is removed after roasting, and they are then preserved in their liquids. These canned peppers were mass-produced starting in the 1960s as a result of tourists visiting Navarra for their vacation and buying the jars to take home, along with other preserved vegetables like white asparagus and artichoke.

Even today, especially during the annual Lodosa Piquillo Pepper Festival in October, the jarred vegetables remain a popular souvenir for travelers to purchase. Vendors sell Piquillo Chile-based appetizers, main dishes, and preserved goods during the celebration, which honors the sweet pepper. The dishes are frequently served with wine and bread. The festival also hosts a culinary competition where participants can present their most inventive pepper-based recipe. Contestants have used chocolates, ice cream, fish, stuffed meats, candied syrups, and creamy cheeses to create imaginative dishes in past competitions to impress a panel of judges and highlight all the ways Piquillo Chile peppers can be used.

Geography and History of Piquillo Pepper

Piquillo Chile peppers are indigenous to Northern Spain and are customarily grown close to Lodosa. On the other hand, the production area is situated in Navarra’s Lower Ribera, which is well-known for its vegetable and legume farming. San Adrián, Lodosa, Azafgra, Sartaguda, Mendavia, Lern, Andosilla, and Cárcar are the eight municipalities where peppers can be grown. The peppers are handfed, numbered, and stamped with a Denomination of Origin (D.O.C. In warm, arid climates, piquillo chili peppers are also grown in the Mediterranean, Peru, China, and the United States.