The perks of Paprika
Updated: Jul 1
If you are like most people, myself included until recently, you most likely have a tin of paprika sitting forlornly in the back of your cabinet just waiting for someone to realize it is much more than just a colorful sprinkle for deviled eggs. It really is quite an exciting and versatile spice….but poor thing never gets thought of…talk about an empty dance card..!!!
I have learned so much about the advantages of using the different varieties of paprika in a multitude of recipes and how much flavor it adds to different dishes.
Paprika actually has 5…yes 5..!! different versions and I use them all constantly for the flavors they impart but also the health benefits. I am always excited to learn about a plain jane little spice who has so much potential.
First a little history on Paprika, it is made from the red fruits of the sweeter variety of chili peppers and its level of spiciness is rated on the Scoville Scale.
This method of determining the heat of peppers was developed by the American Pharmacist Wilbur Scoville in 1912 and has historically been the standard of peppers heat index since then. All paprika varieties are low on the scoville scale of heat and pungency. For example the variance is huge as the Hungarian Paprika is rated at only 300 SHU (Skoville Heat Units ) as compared to the Habanero Chile Pepper which flies in at between a whopping 855,000 to 1,463,700
Hungarian Paprika is most likely the most common of these different types but my goodness does it add a spark of flavor that I never knew existed. As a comparison to show the mild heat you can expect from this paprika the highest on the Scoville scale is the habanero chili pepper which rates at a whopping 855,000 to 1,463,700 heat units. And all paprika blends are very low only coming in a little over 300 SHU., depending on the particular type. So there is a mild heat to paprika but it provides mostly flavor combined with gorgeous flavor and not mouth blistering flaming heat.
All types of paprika are filled with Vitamin C and Carotenids to protect cellular damage in your body and prevent the premature onset of aging along with chronic diseases.
In Hungary this paprika bears the name Csemerge which translates to exquisite delicacy and is the highest grade available. It is used there regularly and is always readily available such as we do our salt and pepper.
Hungarian Sweet & Spicy Paprika is a little feistier version than that of Hungarian Paprika in that it has a bit of cayenne which imparts a slight bittersweet and earthy flavor with medium heat. So if you enjoy a little spiciness to your dishes this is a perfect addition.
Smoked Spanish Hot Paprika is just exactly as the name implies. It is a paprika that is slow dried and smoked over a hot burning oak fire for weeks which produces a hot smoky flavor. It is great in BBQ sauces , homemade chili, soups, stews…and any dish you would to add a pop of flavor with a little heat.
Smoked Spanish Sweet Paprika is a little milder version of the Spanish Hot Paprika in that it adds beautiful color to all soups, stews etc and a wonderful taste, just not quite as hot and pungent. For example you can add just 2 teaspoons to 2 cups of warmed black beans before serving and it will perk it right up. Even add up to 1 tablespoon to a pound of tomatoes used in your favorite salsa or soup recipe. Great flavor, probably my personal favorite as I am not one to endure scorching hot flavors whereas my husband loves it the more heat the better…so this is a great compromise in our cuisine.
California Paprika is a little different in that is comprised of a pepper indigenous to California and is a hybrid of several different types of peppers. This particular blend has a level of heat that does not overtake a dish but rather complements it very nicely. Wonderful addition to a goulash recipe for example or even your favorite fish recipe. All these paprikas are extremely versatile and add so much to everyday recipes.
So try some of these great paprika blends and let’s fill up that dance cardp0. !!