Also Known as
Paprika is a spice that comes from a mild red pepper in the family Capsicum annum. Its flavour ranges from sweet and mild to hot, depending on the variety of pepper and whether the hotter seeds and spongy tissue are included. Paprika is equally valued for its taste and its bright red colour, derived from capsanthin.
In Hungary where it is the national spice, paprika is made from small, round, intensely-flavoured and sweet-fleshed peppers that are sun-dried and hand ground. In Spain, smoked paprika powder is made from an indigenous variety of large, red, heart-shaped chilli pepper called pimento. Likewise, every region has its own paprika, depending on the flavour of the pepper there.
How to Select
• Paprika should be evenly and finely ground, with a shiny uniform colour.
• The redder the colour, the milder the paprika. Conversely, the more yellow the colour, the stronger the flavour. So, be sure to check the labels to ensure you are getting either the mild or spicy variety you desire.
• Check the packaging and the manufacturing date.
• The rich colouring of paprika not only enhances the visual appeal of foods, but it can also be used as a key flavouring.
• It goes well with just about any savoury food, including vegetable curries, stews, creamy sauces, pastas, pizzas, tomato dishes and salads.
• For most recipes, the paprika is added near the end of the cooking process, because heat diminishes both the colour and flavour.
• Paprika is the main flavouring used in Hungarian cooking.
• Paprika is useful as a simple garnish for almost any savoury dish. Sprinkle paprika on potatoes or homemade fries.
• Paprika can be mixed with bread crumbs before sprinkling over casseroles or vegetables.
How to Store
• Paprika should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, preferably the refrigerator.
• Rather than store paprika in a glass bottle, choose a container that will keep the light away.
• As with most ground spices, paprika will lose its flavour and potency with age. Use it or replace it within six months for best results.