Paprika is a brightly colored red powder that is available in a multitude of flavors and intensities. It is an essential ingredient of Spanish and Mexican cuisines and barbecue recipes, and its authentic flavor enhances paellas, vegetables, goulashes, meats, tomato-based soups, and salsas. Find out all about paprika!
Paprika, also called red pepper, is a spice that is still ground in the purest tradition. Even though you can make paprika from any pepper, it’s usually made from red peppers (known botanically as capsicum annuum), which are dehydrated and then finely ground. These peppers are originally from the Americas, but have also been grown in Hungary, which is the language from which the word “paprika” comes from.
Mild, Smoked, or Spicy
There are several types of paprika on the market. Depending on whether you are using mild, spicy, or smoked varieties, the flavor of paprika will be prominent or subtle. The flavor of each variety depends on the type of red pepper used to make it. For example, Spanish mild smoked paprika, also called pimentón, adds a natural smoky note to dishes. Some blends also use hotter peppers, which provide more intensity and flavor.
The heat and strength of paprika depends on which parts of the pepper are used. Some varieties of paprika are made with just the flesh, other with the flesh and the stem, and others still use the membranes or the seeds. The more seeds there are in the grounded blend, the more heat the paprika provides. It should be noted that paprika is a spice that is very sensitive to heat, which means it can burn quickly. It’s preferable to heat it very gently, so the spice doesn’t develop an unpleasant bitter taste.
Peppers contain capsaicin and similar compounds, which are responsible for the spicy taste and the sensation of burning in the mouth. Capsaicin is mostly concentrated in the white part inside the pepper, where the seeds are attached. This same compound makes us sweat and raises our heartrate slightly.
Measuring Heat and Strength
Different scales measure the heat and strength of peppers. The most well-known is the Scoville scale, and it is used all over the world. The Scoville scale is graduated between 1 and 10, from the least spicy to the spiciest. For example, a red bell pepper contains no capsaicin and has a degree of 0 out of 10, meaning that you’ll feel no sensation of burning in your mouth. On the other hand, a habanero pepper, which has a much higher concentration of capsaicin, has the maximum 10/10 score.
Mild paprika (like the one used in the Spice Oasis Artisanal Blend) has a score of 1/10, so it provides just a slight warmth in the mouth. On the other hand, hot paprika has a degree of 6/10, so you should expect a bolder, more intense taste.
Paprika adds an exotic touch, as well as delicious heat and flavor to your recipes. Make sure to try it out!