Paprika: What Is It & Its Different Types To Know

Kaiya Everly

Updated on:

Paprika

While walking through the spice section in a grocery store, you must have come across a bottle labeled “paprika”. Have you ever wondered what it means? Before adding this to your grocery list, let’s first learn everything about paprika.

What Is Paprika?

Paprika is a seasoning spice made of dried and ground peppers from the Capsicum annum family. This spice is mostly crimson red but can also be yellow, brown, and orange in color. It is used worldwide to garnish foods, season dishes, or add color to a dish. 

Paprika is widely grown in Hungary, Spain, South America, the Mediterranean, India, and California. For your knowledge, I have mentioned some important aspects of paprika you might not be aware of!

What Is Paprika Made Of?

Paprika is made from the pods of Capsicum annum which are often called chili peppers or chiles. These pods are long or conical in shape and are 0.5 to 1 foot in length. You’ll find flat, kidney-shaped seeds inside the spongy central column of the pod. First, these pods are fully dried in the sun and then ground into a fine powder. While making mild paprikas, the seeds and membranes are removed from the pods before they are dried and ground into powder. Because of this, the compound capsaicin (which gives chilies their heat) is removed.

Also Read : Sweet Paprika Substitute, You Must Know

Different Types Of Paprika

Hungary and Spain are the popular paprika-producing countries. Let’s have a look at these varieties of paprika.

  1. Hungarian Paprika

Hungarian paprika is more spicy compared to domestic paprika. This type of paprika is made using dark red pods with a sweet flavor and aroma. There are about eight different varieties of paprika in Hungary. 

  1. Spanish Paprika

You’ll get different varieties of Spanish paprika such as sweet, spicy, and a combination of sweet & spicy (for medium heat). Pimentón de la Vera is the most widely used Spanish paprika for its rich spicy flavor.

  1. Sweet Paprika

Sweet paprika is made by only using the flesh of pepper without using its seeds. This type of paprika is very mild in flavor, sweet to taste, and has a subtle touch of heat. You can even use a sweet paprika substitute instead of sweet paprika.

  1. Smoked Paprika

You can add a smoky flavor to your dish by using smoked paprika. This smoky flavor is achieved when peppers are smoked over open fires during the drying process. 

  1. Hot Paprika

This type of paprika is made by using peppers that are specially cultivated for heat! During the grounding process, the seeds and other plant materials are also used to kick up the heat. 

How To Store Paprika

Light and heat can affect the taste and potency of any spice. Therefore, paprika must always be stored in an airtight container to maintain its freshness. Make sure the container is kept in a cool, dark place. You can even store the spice in the refrigerator.

How to Cook With Paprika

Most people prefer to add this spicy directly into a recipe. But if you want paprika to completely release its flavor, you should cook it correctly.  You can start by frying the spice in hot oil but on a lower heat as it can quickly burn.

You can also use paprika for marinades, rubs, soups, stews, and vegetable dishes. Many times this spice is used as a garnish, sprinkled on top of dishes to add a pop of color! This step works well for non-sweet, light-colored foods.

Taste of Paprika

The taste of paprika ranges from mild and sweet to spicy hot. Domestic paprika is mild, sweet, and vegetable-like. The vegetative flavor subsequently comes from the compound named methoxypyrazines. Paprika does have some sugar content of up to 6% which gives mild sweetness.

In spicy paprikas, few seeds, membranes, and capsaicin compounds are left on the pods while drying. This will give you a hot, spicy flavor!

Some paprikas are dried by smoking and then ground into powder. You’ll get the rich smoky flavor as they are smoked over an oak fire.

Paprika Recipes

As paprika is the most popular spice, it is widely used in cuisines across the globe! It is often used in Spanish octopus tapas for seasoning. You can also add smoked paprika to marinades and BBQ sauces to get the smoky flavor. Hot paprika is even used in soups and stews like Hungarian goulash.

Where To Purchase Paprika

You can easily find this spice in any nearby supermarket store. It is available either in a tin can or a glass bottle. You can even buy it from online spice stores to get authentic Hungarian and Spanish paprika. Sometimes, you may get confused about paprika vs sweet paprika. Make sure you check the label of the packaging for the right flavor and expiry date. 

For a quick purchase, you can check out these options to get the flavor of your choice.

Benefits of Paprika

As paprika is used worldwide, let us check out the health benefits of paprika.

  1. This spice is rich in vitamin A, anti-oxidants, and a variety of micro-nutrients.
  2. It helps to boost your eye health.
  3. Paprika even decreases the risk of AMD and cataracts.
  4. The anti-inflammatory compound capsaicin in paprika helps to treat pain and fight inflammation.
  5. The carotenoids in paprika help in decreasing LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
  6. Several compounds in paprika can block cancer cell growth and lower cancer risk.
  7. This spice significantly decreases blood insulin and sugar levels.
  8. Paprika is rich in iron and vitamin E. So, it can help to repair and produce healthy red blood cells.
  9. It is even effective for treating anemia.

Thus, paprika offers a variety of good compounds that may help in improving your overall health.

Summing Up

Paprika is a popular seasoning spice made by using dried peppers from the Capsicum annum family. This spice tastes either sweet, smoky, or hot. However, the flavor can vary depending on the type of pepper used, where it comes from, and how it is manufactured. All the variants of paprika can be used in soups, eggs, beans, rice, and other everyday meals. With paprika, you can seamlessly enhance the taste and color of any dish!

FAQ

Can You Use Paprika In Plants?

Yes, you can use paprika water as a natural pesticide for plants. The compound capsaicin present in paprika can repel pests.

What Type Of Taste Does Paprika Give?

Powdered paprika has a sweet and peppery taste while smoked paprika will give you a little smoky flavor.

Is Paprika Good For You?

Yes, paprika is good for you as it is loaded with numerous health benefits. This includes lowering insulin/sugar levels, improving eye health, and more.

What Are The Side Effects Of Paprika?

There are a few side effects of paprika like skin rashes, itching in the mouth, or coughing. In severe cases, you may find difficulty in breathing.

What Is The Origin of Paprika?

Paprika was first discovered by Christopher Columbus in Central Mexico, Spain in 1493.