Paprika is a readily available spice and made from the ground, dried fruits of peppers (either bell or chilli or mixtures of the two). Originally popular in mid European countries, and in particular Hungary, paprika adds color and flavor to savory dishes. Its popularity has spread to all other parts of the world.
While people think of paprika as just a dusting of color on top of potato salads, deviled eggs or macaroni and cheese, it is so much more. Fresh paprika has the full flavor of the peppers it was ground from but can range in flavor from mild and sweet to fiery hot.
Paprika marked as "sweet" will have the warm flavor of ripe peppers and sunshine. "Semi-sweet" or "semi-hot" varieties although relatively mild will have a bit more of a kick from its hint of cayenne. "Hot varieties" as the name implies will be significantly hotter.
Incorporating paprika into your food is ideal if you want more chilli but without the heat
Up until the 1920s, Central European paprika was always hot and spicy. But following the introduction of a plant that produced sweet fruit, this was grafted onto other plants to improve the range.
Paprika is high in health benefits including
- Being rich in Vitamin C
- Filled with antibacterial properties
- Packed with antioxidants
- Aiding iron absorption
- Helping normalize blood pressure
- Improving circulation
- Increasing the production of saliva and stomach acids to aid digestion
- Adding flavor and color to food
When buying paprika, ensure it is in good condition by checking the expiry date, that it is ground finely and evenly and is shiny and consistent in color. Store paprika in a dark, airtight container in a cool place. Some will even recommend storage in a refrigerator.
Remember! The redder the paprika, the milder its taste; the more yellow the paprika, the hotter its taste.