The delicate art of pimentón

Smoke rises from smoldering oak up through the slats of a wooden loft overhead, seeping into a mound of lipstick-red peppers piled 3 feet deep. Beams of sunlight stream through holes in the terra cotta roof, a deliberately ramshackle setup that keeps rain out but lets moisture escape. The skinny, tapered fruit will dry over a constant fire for eight to 15 days, depending on the weather, before it is turned into Spain’s most emblematic spice.

“The building has to breathe,” says Paco Garcia Barra, a farmer who has grown peppers for pimentón de la Vera, or smoked paprika, for 50 years.


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