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Common Name

Latin Name Family Country/Origin
Capiscum annuum Fam Solanaceae South America

This bright red powder is often associated with Hungary, where it has played an integral role in Hungarian cuisine since the 17th century. Paprika's early history is unknown, but it is believed that Spain was the first country to grind dried red peppers into the powder known as paprika.

Christopher Columbus is credited with bringing red peppers to Spain, where they became a popular cooking ingredient. It was the Turks however, who brought paprika to Hungary, Serbia and Croatia where it became a culinary staple.

Paprika is made by grinding many different varieties of dried fruits of the Capsicum annuum, an annual that produces many varieties of peppers including cayenne, jalapeno, and pimento. Over time, Hungarian paprika peppers were cultivated for lower heat. Ranging from mild to hot, Hungarian paprika has six different categories and levels of heat.

Special quality paprika is the brightest in color and smell, but the mildest in taste. Delicate paprika is moderately spicy, but has a full, rich flavour. Paprika ranges in color from light pinkish red, to a very deep, dark red. So-called exquisite delicate paprika looks similar to delicate in appearance, but has a slightly stronger taste. Pungent exquisite delicate has an even stronger taste than exquisite delicate. Rose paprika has a soft, light red color with a fragrant aroma, but mild taste. Noble sweet paprika is a brighter red and offers a hint of spiciness. Half-sweet paprika is relatively pungent and display a mixture of characteristics found in other paprikas. Finally, hot paprika is the hottest of all varieties and is brown in color.

A new but unofficial category of paprika's called smoked paprikas come from grinding smoked dried peppers. Smoked paprika is especially popular in southwest and Latin cuisines.

Because of its bright red color, paprika is often used as a colorant in food items like cheese, chili powder blends and sausages. Paprika is also used to decorate salads, devilled eggs and rice dishes.

Purported Medicinal Qualities*

Paprika contains more vitamin C than citrus fruit and offers high levels of beta-carotene.

Historically, paprika has been used to:

  • Aid digestion
  • Increase saliva production
  • Improve circulation
  • Induce perspiration
  • As a stimulant

*Always check with your healthcare provider before consuming, inhaling or otherwise ingesting any non-prescription or prescription natural or homeopathic substance or pharmaceutical. is not recommending, suggesting, inferring or otherwise endorsing the use of any herb or spice as a medication.

Culinary/Suggested Use

Paprika is essential to Hungarian cuisine and in North America is widely used as a colorant and condiment. Most red or orange 'naturally' coloued foods contain mild paprika.

Generally speaking, paprika adds more than color to a meal. Ranging from mild to spicy, paprika can be added to marinades, soups, stews, stocks, casseroles and many other dishes. Chicken paprikash and goulash are two Hungarian specialties where paprika figures prominently. Paprika's flavor becomes more intense once heated, but be aware of its high sugar content which means it can burn easily.  Food for thought:

  • Sprinkle paprika on scrambled, poached or devilled eggs
  • Use paprika as a garnish to add colour.
  • Add paprika to salad dressings or vinaigrettes - it adds color and acts as an emulsifier
  • Rub chicken, turkey, fish or ribs with paprika before cooking
  • Roast potatoes in olive oil, garlic and paprika
  • Add paprika to ground beef or homemade hamburgers
  • Add paprika to pasta sauce
  • Add paprika to chili for heat and for color

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