Gernika peppers (Gernikako Piperrak) are small green peppers grown in the Basque country, usually served fried as a tapa or ración with a sprinkle of salt. They have D.O.P. status (Denomination of Origin Protected) and also carry the Basque government’s quality label which confirms how special these tiny delicious peppers are. Gernika peppers can only come from two specific varieties called Derio or Iker. Production usually runs between April and November, weather dependant. The picking is done manually, once the peppers reach their optimum level of maturity and size which tends to take between 30 and 60 days. Gernika peppers are not to be confused with the widely available Padron peppers which tend to be slightly smaller and rounder. Their name does not signify that they can only come from the town of Gernika. Originally, they were called Pimiento de Bizkaia (Biscay Pepper) but the importance of Gernika’s Monday market, where the peppers are always sold, Picasso’s famous painting and the bombing of the town in 1937, during the civil war, influenced these peppers getting called Gernika. Gernika peppers are uniform in colour, with a light shine. They are between 6 and 9 cm in length, skinny and straight, with little curling on the tip. Their texture is firm and their skin has no wrinkles or symptoms of dehydration, that’s why they look and smell so fresh. Their flavour is meaty, very fresh and sweet, leaving a long lasting sensation in the mouth. There is a lot of fraud in the Spanish green pepper sector, with producers from Morocco and South America selling their peppers as Padron or Gernika. These peppers are shorter, wider and don’t have the same texture or flavour. Do not accept imitations.
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