Paprika: A Bit of Botany
a little bit of botany on paprika

Paprika is a spice made from ground, dried fruits of Capsicum annuum, either bell pepper or chili pepper varieties or mixtures thereof.

Capsicum annuum is in the Solanaceae or nightshade family. It is an upright perennial or annual shrub usually less than 1 m tall, with small, white, pendent flowers and elongated, yellow, orange or red fruits (berries). It can be distinguished from other types of domesticated peppers by flowers that are solitary rather than in groups, and filaments (thread-like stalks supporting the anther) that are not purple

“Regular” paprika is the most commonly found and is a blend of sweet and hot varieties and has a relatively neutral flavor.

Sweet paprika (commonly labeled as Hungarian sweet paprika) has a rich, fruity flavor like a red bell pepper with no heat.

Hot paprika is made from dried chili peppers and will be more similar to cayenne, but less spicy.

Spanish smoked paprika (sometimes labeled as Pimenton de la Vera) is made from dried chilis that are smoked over oak giving the spice a woodsy, smoky flavor. It can be sweet or hot.

common names & nomenclature
The English word "paprika" came from the Hungarian word paprika, which was a diminutive of the Serbo-Croatian language word papar (meaning "pepper"), which in turn came from the Latin piper or Modern Greek piperi.

Also known as:
Paprika, Hungarian paprika, pimenton

Paprika: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for cultivating and harvesting paprika

Capsicum annum prefers full sun in a warm climate, these plants are mostly perennial in sub-tropical and tropical regions; however, they are usually grown as annuals in temperate climates.

Prefers warm, moist, nutrient-rich soil.

Start seeds indoors and sow 1/4 inch deep, 8 to 12 weeks before the last frost. You can pre-soak seeds in warm water overnight prior to planting. After planting, keep moist and warm in a sunny location. Good results are also achieved by putting plastic cling wrap over the containers to create a hothouse environment. Remove when seedlings emerge.

Harvest hot peppers when red for spicier paprika and harvest sweet peppers when ripe for making milder paprika. These can be blended together to achieve the level of flavor desired.

To dry, string hot peppers through stem with a sewing needle thread or fishing string. Then hang in a sunny window. Once dry, they may be ground into powder. Different types of peppers or drying methods will result in different types of paprika. Store dried paprika in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.

Caution should be taken when processing or handling this pepper as it is very hot and you would not want to touch your eyes or similar areas after handling.

Paprika: Where in the World
habitat and range for paprika

Paprika is often associated with Hungary, as it is commonplace in Hungarian cuisine. Spain and Portugal introduced Capsicum annuum to the Old World from the Americas.