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Hot and sweet and red all over, Serbian village hangs peppers out to dry

DONJA LOKOSNICA, Serbia  The village of Donja Lokosnica has turned red, as the pepper harvest hanging out to dry on almost every wall brings a wash of intense colour to this Serbian farming community.
Most of the 1,300 inhabitants are involved in growing red peppers, which are air-dried before being ground into paprika, a vital spice in Balkan cuisine.
Part of the crop is hung to dry in late September, strung up from trees, roofs and on walls - where they look like thick, crimson ivy.
The self-proclaimed "paprika capital of the world," off the highway between Belgrade and Macedonia's capital Skopje, has been growing sweet and hot peppers for generations in a cycle lasting nine months each year.
"Life goes by with paprika," says Verka Stojanovic, a woman in her 80s.
Individual pepper seeds are planted in plastic cups starting on March 8 and are transferred to the ground in May. The plants love heat and the 2017 harvest was abundant, meaty and rich in colour and taste thanks to a scorching hot summer.
The peppers are "sweet as sugar, but also hot," Verka said.
Some of the peppers are sold fresh and can be used to make ajvar, a traditional Serbian condiment that also contains garlic, chilli pepper and roasted aubergine.
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