Paprika is a chili and therefore contains Capsaicin & Dihydrocapsaicin which are compounds found along the connecting tissues, placenta and seeds and determine the heat of the chili. While appreciated for its mild sweet flavor and bright color, it is available in a few different strengths of heat and flavor. These is hot paprika, smokey paprika, bittersweet, semisweet and delicate. So many choices to make, that you will be sure to want more than one in your spice cabinet.
Perhaps the best known is Hungarian paprika, which is referred to by name in more recipes than the other known paprika’s from Spain, Israel and California. It has a delicate, sweet and silky texture. Spanish paprika is somewhat smokier and usually not ground quit as finely. Israel-en paprika has a darker color than most sweet paprika’s, with an earthy, resiny flavor reminiscent of ground ancho pepper. California paprika is ground from a deep red hybrid pepper. It has a faint lemony edge to set it apart from the others. I prefer not to buy paprika that is labeled “Hot” because sometimes manufacturers will mix cayenne pepper with it and label the mix as “Hot Paprika”. I like to add a hot chile of my choice where called for, as cayenne has its own flavor. For example, if heat is called for, I might prefer to add a little ground chipotle pepper, which will add both heat and a smoky flavor.
History tells us that Paprika originated in southern Mexico. Christopher Columbus brought the chile to Europe. Somewhere around 1560, these peppers reached the Balkans where they were called paprika and from there they made their way to Hungry.
Paprika is a rich source of vitamin C as well as other essential vitamins like A, E and K.
There is even a Paprika Museum which makes its home in Kalocsa in Hungry. The city celebrates this famous spice with the Paprika Festival each year in October. In the La Vera region of Spain, festivals are held every year, and the patron saint of the harvest is thanked for the paprika harvest.
Paprika is air, light and heat sensitive and should be never be added directly to hot oil. Add it with other liquids when cooking with it.
Store it, tightly covered in a cool dark place or in your refrigerator and it will last up to a year.
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