Paprika is a powder made from grinding the dried fruits (pods) of various cultivars of sweet Capsicum annuum 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.
Capsicum annuum peppers vary in size and shape, in colour (red, green, orange yellow) and in heat from sweet to mild to very hot (cayenne pepper).
The cultivars used to produce paprika pepper vary in colour, flavour and heat. Hot Paprika is produced from the cultivars with a considerable amount of heat and is usually ground together with the seeds and ribs. Below is a picture of paprika pepper growing in Tanzania, in East Africa.
Types of Paprika
Paprika can be ‘smoked ‘or ‘unsmoked‘ depending on the drying method used. 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.
Culinary use of Hot Paprika Pepper
Paprika is principally used to season and give vibrant colours to foods like: rice, chicken, fish, pork potatoes, seafood. Whether you use the sweet or hot depends on your desired outcome.