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Paprika, What Is It, How Do You Cook With It, How Do You Use It?

Updated on January 1, 2011
The color reflects the stage of ripeness.  All are acceptable to most dishes.
The color reflects the stage of ripeness. All are acceptable to most dishes.

What Is Paprika

Paprika is a spice made from the grinding of dried fruits of bell peppers or chili peppers. In many languages, especially those of a European background, the word paprika refers to bell peppers themselves. All good cooks are acquainted with bell peppers. Those who are learning to cook should familiarize themselves with the choices of bell peppers. They are widely available in grocery stores, farmer's markets, and are easily grown at home in a small garden or container. The seasoning adds both color and flavor to dishes. Paprika can range from mild to hot in reference to heat.

A wonderful combination of tangy taste and crunchy texture, bell peppers are an ornamental vegetable. The variety of color, red, yellow and green are most common, is a reflection of their stage of ripeness. The green pepper is the earliest stage of maturity and often used. The pepper will change colors until it reaches maturity and becomes red. Bells are available throughout the year, but most abundant and tasty during the months of August and September.

Sweet peppers are plump, bell-shaped vegetables featuring either three or four lobes. A general rule of thumb, those with three lobes on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating raw, on salads, sandwiches, or crunchy snacks. Those with four lobes are firmer and better suited as an ingredient in cooking. Many cooks, ( self included) do not bother to look. They are purchased or grown to be consumed, and we simply use them .

 

When I grow up.....
When I grow up.....
I am what I was meant to be......
I am what I was meant to be......

From Bell Pepper To A spice

Bell peppers are thought to have originated in Mexico. Capsicum is a member of the nightshade family which also includes potatoes and tomatoes. Christopher Columbus is credited with bringing the chile to Europe. Aristocrats originally cultivated capsicum as ornamental plants until eventually their culinary value was recognized. By the 1560's, these peppers had reached the Balkans where they were called peperke or paparka. The peppers soon migrated to Hungary, now renowned for its paprika. Goulash, anyone?

It wasn't until the mid-1900s that paprika stepped into the limelight of Western kitchens. Spain, South America, Mediterranean regions, India, and California join Hungary as major producers of paprika. Paprika is used as a coloring agent in foods and cosmetics. Its inclusion in foods fed to zoo flamingos help them keep their pink plumage bright and beautiful.

From Mexico to Europe to the US, peppers seem to have taken the long route!


Paprika--a true capsicum, is, made by grinding dried, aromatic, sweet red peppers, usually the bell pepper. Most commercial brands come from Spain, South America, California, and Hungary.

Difficult things are only hard until we break them down. Grow some bells, dry them out, and gind them down........Paprika!

http://www.drycreekgarden.com/techniques/drying_peppers.cfm

 

Tidbits Regarding Paprika

Paprika is unusually high in vitamin C. The  peppers used for paprika contain six to nine times as much vitamin C as tomatoes by weight. High heat destroys the vitamins from peppers.  For the optimum nutrition, grow and dry your own in the sun. 

 As an antibacterial agent and stimulant, paprika can help normalize blood pressure, improve circulation, and increase the production of saliva and stomach acids to aid digestion.

Storage:
Paprika should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, preferably the refrigerator. Take caution to protect it from light. Use it or replace it within six months for best results.

In The Kitchen:
The rich coloring of paprika enhances the visual appeal of foods. Know that when Hungarian paprika is specified in a recipe, you'll need to find a mild, sweet variety, preferably imported. Spanish paprika generally imparts a much spicier heat to foods.


Paprika goes well with just about any savory food, including eggs, meat, poultry, stew, wild game, fish, shellfish, soup, boiled and steamed vegetables, rice, and creamy sauces. For most recipes, the paprika is added near the end of the cooking process, since heat diminishes both the color and flavor.

When preparing a batter for fried chicken, in addition to salt, and black pepper, I reach for paprika....the dark red specks make for an interesting and colorful end result.

A light dash of paprika also adds to deviled eggs, and potato salad. It adds color and interest without being overwhelming.

Buyer, be aware, like fresh peppers, paprika is available in mild and hot concentrations.

 

Benefits of Paprika

As an antibacterial agent and stimulant, paprika can help normalize blood pressure, improve circulation, and increase the production of saliva and stomach acids to aid digestion.

Paprika is not a powerhouse or a superfood, still, as a spice, it does have benefits.

I had been cooking with paprika for many years before learning how to say the word.

Pap-ree-ka, pauprika, perhaps, paprEEka..........it is good stuff, however you say it!

What Others Had To Say......

 

M. A. Hook 6 weeks ago

Thanks for giving the path from the shelf to the stove. You made it sound so simple. If you'll keep Hubbing about spices and herbs, I'll start cooking again...

Comments

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    • Vladimir Uhri profile image

      Vladimir Uhri 6 years ago from HubPages, FB

      I appreciate an information since I am cooking by myself.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 6 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you onegoodwomen, no kitchen shouldn't be without it, great and awesome hub. Thank you for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Vladimir,

      Good food is made better by the spices.

      Thanks for reading my hubs. I appreciate you.....

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Creativeone59,

      Thanks for your support.

      The kitchen is not only the

      heart of my home, it is the

      'control center'. Every issue

      is resolved in the kitchen.

    • NCBIer profile image

      NCBIer 6 years ago

      I had no idea paprika had so many beneficial qualities. I thought it was just something to add visual appeal, which shows you what kind of cook I am... but I am definitely learning to be a better one. Thank you for the information!

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      NcBler,

      Rest assured, I am learning too!

      That is one thing I like about

      doing HP, a little research

      stretches me as well.

      Thanks for coming by, your visit

      is appreciated.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 6 years ago from Canada

      Interesting ... I did not know that about paprika. How is it similar to cayenne pepper, do you know? Very nicely written article with good information. thanks!

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Hi Prairieprincess,

      It is good to see you again.

      Cayenne come from a red, hot,

      chilli pepper. They are related

      to the bells and the jalapeno.

      Thanks for your input ~~

    • justom profile image

      justom 6 years ago from 41042

      Another useful hub! I use hot Hungarian and smoked Paprika that I buy fresh from a stand at the old market. I love it on fried potatoes. As for the bell peppers I use any kind but the ones (and grew them this year) but I like the 4 nub ones for stuffing just because they stand up easier in the pan. Nice job, as usual! Peace!! Tom

    • justom profile image

      justom 6 years ago from 41042

      Sorry I'm not typing too well today but??? Tom

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Justom,

      I guess it is only fair that

      you get the chance to thrash

      me....how could I have not mentioned

      stuffed bell peppers?

      Are you usually the family cook?

      Or do you have just a few dishes

      you prepare?

      Don't worry about the typos, I didn't

      even notice them.

      Thanks for coming by and reading

      my hubs ~

    • justom profile image

      justom 6 years ago from 41042

      Yeah, I've been cooking for probably 40 years. I shop too, I have friends who hate it but I like buying the stuff that I'm going to be cooking. I make all kinds of things and my son Justin also is a fine cook, we both learned from his mother but neither of us can touch her. You're quite welcome, you write useful and interesting hubs. See ya! Tom

    • thesailor profile image

      thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas

      Paprika is a good taste enhancer, especially chicken meat. I used to add it as additional spice for roast pork chop, too! Thanks, onegoodwoman. :D

    • M. A. Hook profile image

      M. A. Hook 6 years ago

      Thanks for giving the path from the shelf to the stove. You made it sound so simple. If you'll keep Hubbing about spices and herbs, I'll start cooking again...

    • CYBERSUPE profile image

      CYBERSUPE 6 years ago from MALVERN, PENNSYLVANIA, U.S.A.

      Most informative onegoodwoman and interesting as well. We use paprika but I was unaware of the storage advice. Many Thanks.

      Joe

    • nextstopjupiter profile image

      nextstopjupiter 6 years ago from here, there and everywhere

      Thank you for this hub, a useful information for everyone who likes to cook.

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Thesailor,

      Nice to meet you.

      Thanks for your input.

      Glad you like the hub.

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      M.A. Hook,

      Thanks for your vote of confidence.

      Don't wait to eat only when I hub!

      Thanks for coming by.

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      nextstopjupiter,

      It has been a while!

      Good to see you again.

      Thank you for coming by

      and commenting.~~

    • giselle2323 profile image

      giselle2323 6 years ago from Peterborough, Ontario

      Paprika and fried chicken sounds exciting! I just may try it. Thank you for your article.

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Thank you, Gisell2323 for being here.

      Your gorgeous smile just radiates!!

      Do try it, it is pretty, and 'perks'

      up the chicken without being overpowering.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 6 years ago from London, UK

      I never use it because I didn't know what benefits it had. Now, thanks to you, I do...

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Lady_E

      Thank you for letting me know

      that my hubs are of use. It delights

      me to hear that people are learning

      something from them.

      It is also good to hear from

      a new reader.

      That makes you pretty important

      to me today!

    • Becky Puetz profile image

      Becky 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      I never knew that paprika had so many good health benefits. I use it occasionally, but intend to incorporate more into my recipes from here on. Thank you for this awesome hub.

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Becky Puetz..........

      My workload has been heavy, pulling me away from HubPages, much to my regret.

      It is SO encouraging to see a new reader!

      Thank you for coming by and commenting. I truly appreciate it.

    • profile image

      erika 5 years ago

      thanks really helped with my daughters research paper

    • profile image

      asome 4 years ago

      i thinks its cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 4 years ago

      You taught me so much more about paprika than I ever knew. Thanks for the great tips. I occasionally season with paprika, but thanks to a few more tips I learned here, I am eager to experiment more. Well done hub!

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 4 years ago from A small southern town

      You are so very welcome, toknowinfo..........

      apologize for taking so long to respond......have been ill.

    • beta5909 profile image

      beta5909 11 months ago

      You're one of the few articles to rank in search for how to use paprika when preparing chicken. I don't know why google assumes that every one is looking for chicken recipes when asked a direct question. I already had a baked chicken recipe but wanted to know the benefits of adding of paprika. Now, thanks to your article, I know.

      Thanks so much. Great hub.

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