An artisan elaboration that respects tradition.

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The definitive establishment of the crop in La Vera took place in the middle of the 18th century, on small plots of land by the right bank of the Tiétar River, substituting the cultivation of flax in the flax fields.

These productions were abandoned as it was impossible for the area's hand textiles to compete with the modern Catalonian industry. From this time onwards, flax fields were used for growing pepper for pimentón, and it would be this crop that from the beginning of the 20th century transformed the socio-economic situation of the region.

A principios del siglo XIX la Vera era ya una importante zona de producción de pimentón; así lo confirma el Conde de Canilleros,  que al referirse a la Extremadura de 1829, dice textualmente: «Jaraíz, es hoy, uno de los primeros centros de pimentón». Serradilla (1998).

The increase in demand for Pimentón de la Vera resulted in an increase in the crop.

The use of irrigated land on the right bank of the Tiétar River before the end of the Spanish Civil War, and the later enlargement of the left bank with the construction of the Rosarito marsh in the forties, spread pepper cultivation to the Campo Arañuelo region.

The drying room is an indispensable part for the first step in manufacturing pimentón, which in this zone is historically taken by the farmer.

The first merchant-exporters began to emerge, buying the dried pepper from the producers and then grinding it themselves. This situation put the pepper market into the hands of a few people, resulting in oligopoly and a loss to the farmers’ earnings (Fernández Manzano, 1981a). This led to a group of farmers on the edge of Jaraíz de la Vera forming a Catholic Union in 1914 with the support of Marcelo Giraldo, the parish priest at the Church of Saint Michael in the municipality.

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According to the association’s Minute Book, the ‘Union of Pimentón Producers in Jaraíz de la Vera’ was official constituted on 6th May, 1937.

Another important associationist movement emerged in La Vera in the year 1936, bringing together the manufactures-exporters of Pimentón de la Vera.

The association was called the ‘Official Guild of Ground Pepper Exporters in Cáceres Province’, whose main objective was to protect Pimentón de la Vera, being by then different from the pimentón produced in other parts of Spain.

Later, in 1952, the ‘Consortium of Exporters’ was formed, reporting to ’Official Guild of Ground Pepper Exporters in Cáceres Province’ and responsible for setting the maximum raw purchase prices and the minimum pimentón sale price.

The slow drying process

The autumn rains coinciding with the time of the pepper harvest (September-October) forced the development of an alternative process to sun-drying.

While the crop gained in importance, and after the pimentón manufacturing system became regulated (being originally done by hand, toasting the peppers and then grinding them in mortars), a new system developed to dry the fruits in large quantities, using the same source of heat, smoke from burning firewood. So in the 17th century the farmers from La Vera developed the use of a drying room with a vertical current of air and a fire underneath, which has been used in the area ever since. 

These drying rooms are built on the actual plots of land where it is grown. At first, the dried pepper was crushed in the drying room itself using wooden tampers, until the required quantities of Pimentón de la Vera became larger, and the farmers began to use water-powered cereal mills, powered by the ravines in La Vera, on which the pepper was transported in large sacks or feedbags called maquilones, each maquilon equivalent to 80 kilos of pepper. The pimentón obtained was known as Pimentón de la Vera, and was clearly different from what was being produced in Murcia, due to the varieties being used and the way the peppers were dried.

The pimentón manufactured was exactly the same in all the regions of Cáceres referred to here, and the same varieties were being grown as were in La Vera, dried by smoke and ground in stone mills. The majority was concentrated in La Vera, and so the term ‘Pimentón de la Vera’ remained tied to the smoked pimentón produced in this region, and by extension to what was produced by the same process across the northern parts of Cáceres.

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