Rey de la Vera Pimenton

Producer: Sanmelarroyabe tuna
Region: La Vera, Extremadura, Spain
Employees: eight plus 3 owners

The region of La Vera is located in the Gredos Mountains, one of the largest mountainous regions of Spain to the west of Madrid, and has a peculiar microclimate in which many plant species thrive. Soon after Christopher Columbus happened upon America, the adventurous Jeronimos del Monasterio de Yuste monks returned to their Vera region with the seeds of a pepper known as the Pimenton de la Vega. The new peppers adapted nicely to their new environment and spread throughout the Vera region. The peppers are dried over slow burning wood for 10-15 days, giving them a slight smoky aroma and flavor, a characteristic not found in any other pimenton (or paprika) worldwide.

Sanmel has been owned and operated by the Sanchez Rodriguez family for four generations. The founding great-grandfather established his mill in the mountains where the peppers were harvested and milled with mountain water. Today, the mission of Sanmel is to support local farmers through the elaboration of regional foods, and to encourage environmental stewardship through its techniques and purchasing criteria. All of the peppers are purchased from small local farmers. The wood used by the farmers for drying the peppers is obtained from forest cuttings – a traditional method of managing the local forests to prevent forest fires – and is overseen by the regional environmental office.

The dried peppers are ground using traditional stone mills. The final product is 100% pure milled pepper with no additives. There is no waste from the process, and no water usage. Sanmel has invested in solar energy, working with a neighboring farm to host panels, to produce over 400,000 kW hours a year of clean renewable energy.

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