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Cambodia’s Kampot Peppers

Farmers in Kampot have many generations of experience in the cultivation of pepper and produce pepper of the highest quality using a mixture of traditional and modern methods. Kampot pepper is one of Cambodia’s product granted official geographical indication (GI) statuses. In February 2016, Kampot pepper became the first Cambodian product to be recognized by the European Union as a Geographical Indication. It is a certified appellation of origin product since 2010. 

Cambodia exported about 8000 tons of Kampot pepper at the start of the 20th century. 1 million pepper poles still existed in Kampot in the 1960s, generating around 1000 tons. Just 4 tons was collected by the end of the 90s after the collapse of the Khmer Rouge regime.

photo by: Matt Wakeman

Everything you need to know about Kampot peppers of Cambodia

Brief history

In Kampot, it can trace back to the 1870s the modern era of intense pepper production. His pepper plantations were burned down in 1873 by the Sultan of Aceh, who did not want to leave his riches to his Dutch enemies. Some of the production then shifted to the Kampot region of Cambodia. Since at least the 13th century, knowledge of pepper cultivation and processing has been passed on from generation to generation in the Province of Kampot.

Taste and aroma

What does Kampot pepper taste like? The taste and strong aroma of Kampot pepper made it one of the world’s most highly regarded peppers-the unchallenged spice champion in the kitchens of the most famous French chefs, and commonly referred to as ‘ The King of Pepper! ‘ Kampot pepper provides aromas that are strong but delicate. The flavor, ranging from strongly spicy to mildly sweet, often shows hints of floral and citrus.

The pepper plant grows on traditional wooden poles that are carefully separated by a given distance to ensure adequate food for all crops. All Kampot Pepper cuttings must come from the terroir of Kampot for a new plantation. Every year, natural fertilizer and fresh soil must be applied to each pole of the pepper plant.

Geographical location

Located between the mountains and the sea, this pepper is exceptional due to the special climate and soil type found in the province of Kampot, coupled with the experience of several generations of farming expertise. The distinctive aroma–heavy yet delicate, aromatic and unmistakable–makes Kampot Pepper worldwide highly appreciated by gourmets. Kampot pepper is grown on family farms dotting Phnom Voar and nearby valleys northwest of Kompong Trach, where especially pungent peppercorns are developed by the unique climate and farmers ‘ adherence to labor intensive growing techniques.

Price

Kampot pepper is sold for about $15, $25 and $28 per kilogram in three varieties – black, red and white. The season of harvest extends from March to the end of June.

Kampot Pepper Producers Association (KPPA) and  the independent certification body Eco-Cert are responsible for inspecting the plantations.

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