Botanical name Capsicum annum, Capsicum frutescens ▪ Family name Solanaceae
Paprika is a fine powder made from especially mild varieties of capsicum peppers. For smoked paprika, the peppers are slow-dried over oak fires, resulting in an unmistakable smokey flavour and aroma.
Native range Central America, South America, Caribbean Islands
Major producers Spain, Portugal
Harvesting Most capsicum peppers are grown as annuals and harvesting occurs about 3 months after planting. The core and seeds are removed, and then the flesh is dried and powdered. For Spanish-style smoked paprika (or pimenton), the peppers are dried over oak fires for a smoky flavour.
Taste and aroma The aroma of paprika tends to be delicate with various types having hints of caramel, fruitiness, or smokiness. Flavours vary from sweetly smoky to more full bodied and pungent with a hint of bitterness.
Culinary uses Smoked paprika is an essential ingredient for authentic Spanish cooking, in dishes such as paella and lomo pork loin. Smoked paprika is used in chorizo sausage and can be used as a seasoning for barbeque pork and kebabs. It is also a great addition to lamb and beef stews.
Try combining smoked paprika with lemon juice and olive oil for a delicious rub for grilled meat or fish, or simply sprinkle it on root vegetables before roasting.
Paprika should never be overheated since it becomes bitter.
Other uses Paprika oleoresin (the essential oil extract) with its red pigments is used in chicken feed to give the yolk a richer colour.
Storage It should be kept in an airtight container away from light otherwise it will lose its vibrancy.