What is Paprika?

Capsicum annum L.

Paprika myfavouritepastime.com

Paprika is a powder made from grinding the dried fruits (pods) of various cultivars of sweet Capsicum annum peppers, also commonly known as bell pepper, chile, or chilli pepper.

Paprika can be sweet, semi-sweet or hot, but sweet paprika is the most common.

Paprika can also be ‘smoked ‘or ‘unsmoked‘ depending on the drying method used.

In the La Murcia region of Spain and other producing countries, like Hungary and Argentina, the peppers are dried in sun to produce  the “unsmoked”  version of paprika. With advancement of technologies, today, the fresh peppers can also be dried artificially in ovens, to give unsmoked paprika.

In the La Vera region of Spain, the peppers are dried over very slow-burning Oak fires to give “smoked paprika’ or pimentón de la Vera as the Spanish call it. The smoked paprika has an earthy and smoky aroma.

The flavours of paprika vary from country to country, but almost all plants grown produce the sweet variety.

Paprika myfavouritepastime.com

Types of Paprika Pepper

In general, both smoked an unsmoked paprika are available in three flavours:

  • Sweet (pimentón dulce) is slightly sweet with very little heat;
  • Semi-sweet (pimentón agridulce) bittersweet/medium hot with just a trace of sweet.
  • Hot (pimentón picante) very hot with just a trace of bitterness.

Dulce or sweet pimentón is, by far, the most widely used spice in Spanish cooking and also in other cuisines worldwide.

In Spain, both types of paprika (smoked and unsmoked) have been been granted a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), to ensure a clearly-labeled, artisanal product of exceptional quality.

Paprika is generally used as a colouring agent and a as a spice in a broad variety of dishes throughout the world. Besides flavouring the food, it adds a pleasant, deep red colour to the dish.

Culinary Use Of Paprika

  • Paprika is principally used to season and give vibrant colours to foods like: rice, chicken, fish, pork potatoes, seafood
  • In, stews and soups, such as lentil or bean soup,
  • Grilled veggies,  corn on the cob, deviled eggs,
  • Popular dishes such as: gratin of leafy greens; Hungarian goulash,
  • It’s also used in the preparation of sausages
  • Spice rubs for meats:. combine with some salt, cumin, coriander and other spices to make a spice rub.

How to Store Paprika

Paprika deteriorates quickly so it should be purchased in small quantities and kept in airtight containers away from sunlight.

What Brand Should I Buy?

There are many good brands, but be sure the one you buy is PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) certified, confirming that it was made in La Vera region of Spain.or La Murcia region of Spain. Many favour La Chinita brand, others, Santo Domingo.

Below is a picture of paprika pepper growing in Tanzania, in East Africa.

Paprika Pepper By USAID Africa Bureau [Public domain], via Wimedia Commons
myfavouritepastime.com Last Updated: August 20, 2018

Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

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