With four different paprikas in our stores, it can be a challenge to choose which one to use in which recipes. Fear not, we are here to help!
The plant paprika comes from the capsicum annuum- a pepper plant originating from southern Mexico and the Antilles islands. The plant was brought back to Spain by the infamous Christopher Columbus. It was actually used to decorate baroque gardens of nobility in Europe. From Spain, trade routes took it to Turkey, and from there, to Hungary through the Balkans. The pepper plant that paprika comes from has its first written note in an account book in Szeged, Hungary, back in 1748. Nowadays, paprika is most associated with Hungary and Spain, where it is grown and produced a few different ways.
Paprika itself is a powder made from grinding the pods of the Capsicum annuum pepper. It brags the fourth most consumed spice in the world, and finds itself in many of our blends and rubs, like Baharat and Fajita. The heat in paprika comes from capsaicin, a compound in chili peppers. The capsaicin content varies between different plants, and thus gives us the variation in heat between different paprikas. But which paprika is hot, and which is not? Read further, and learn all about the different paprikas we have at SKORDO.
In Hungary, paprika finds itself on the table right alongside salt, instead of pepper. Paprika is a staple in Hungary, and forms the base for Goulash, a Hungarian stew. It has a rich, sweet, smoky flavor to it, and is hotter than Spanish paprika is. Though the flavor is inherently smoky, Hungarian paprika isn’t actually smoked.
There are actually eight different kinds of paprika produced in Hungary, but the édesnemes variety is typically what you’ll find when looking at Hungarian paprika.
Also known as pimenton, Spanish paprika is less intense than Hungarian. Brought over in the 16th century from the New World, the first seeds were sowed in the Extremadura region, and spread from there all over Europe. Now, paprika has become Spain’s second most popular spice, next to Saffron. It is made from peppers that have been dried and ground to a fine powder. Spanish paprika is sweet, and has bright notes. Though it has a brighter red color than the Hungarian paprika, it has less heat to it. Avoid overheating, as it will become bitter. We used it in our Rosemary Deviled Eggs.
If a recipe doesn’t state which paprika to use, then more often than not, they’re using smoked sweet paprika. It doesn’t have much heat at all, but instead offers a sweet, smoky, and bright flavor. The peppers used for the smoked sweet paprika don’t contain the same amount of capsaicin as the smoked hot paprika, which is where the heat comes from. With smoked sweet paprika, you get the bright color without paying the hot price. It can be used to brighten a dull tomato sauce, and is famously known for garnishing devilled eggs. Give it a go in Chicken Soup with Sweet Smoked Rice Cakes.
Smoked hot paprika is also known as Pimenton de La Vera, and comes from the La Vera province in Extremadura. In the La Vera region, it tends to be rainy around harvest time, so farmers developed the smoking method instead of sun drying. Smoked hot paprika is bright red, and more pungent than the rest. It’s made from peppers that have been dried by smoking over an oak fire, and then ground into a fine powder. Similar to Spanish paprika, it is bright red, but it packs the heat that Spanish paprika doesn’t. It is smoky, warm, and of course, hot. Try it in Amba, a pickled mango sauce.
At the end of the day, try smoked sweet paprika if you don’t like heat, or Spanish paprika if you don’t like the smoky flavor as much. Hungarian paprika is best for Goulash, and for those who like subtle smoke with more heat. Smoked hot paprika is good for those who enjoy heat as well as smoke in their paprika.
Challenge a friend with a gift of all four paprikas, build your own 4-set + try them all!
Noreen Norton said:
This is so informative. Thank you very much.