What is Paprika?

Did you know that Paprika is made from peppers?  It actually is from bell peppers or chili peppers and ground into a powder that we know as Paprika.  Paprika, and the Capsicum from the pepper, is unusually rich in vitamin C.   After it is ground, a lot of the vitamin C content is retained in the paprika; it contains more vitamin C by weight than lemon juice. Paprika, as with other peppers, is also high in other antioxidants.  Of course you would have to ingest a lot of paprika to retract all of the nutrients, but overall it is a highly nutritious spice.

There are several types and heat levels of Paprika depending on where it was harvested and made. Generic paprika is generally mild. Hungarian paprika, which is the best known from the harvests in Szeged, is available in sweet and hot powdered versions.  The sweet variety is what we usually associate with paprika and regional dishes such as Hungarian goulash are popular all over the world. Paprika is also used to season and color rices, stews, and soups and in the preparation of sausages along with many other spices. In the United States, paprika is frequently sprinkled on foods as a garnish, but the flavor is more effectively produced by heating it gently in oil.

Spanish paprika is another variety hat you can find on the market and it is generally a smoked variety. You can also find paprika that is made is in the Netherlands (in greenhouses mainly) and California.

Paprika is a spice that is used as an ingredient in a broad variety of dishes throughout the world. The production from different countries bring different flavors and heat levels to the spice and good cooks usually have several types of paprika on hand when cooking so that they can flavor the dish properly depending on the region of the dish.

So why not try a few different types of paprika next time you are cooking a dish and enjoy the different flavors one simple pepper can bring to the table from around the world.



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