Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman
Most kitchens around the world will likely have a jar of paprika in the spice rack, but it turns out not that many people have given a second thought to how that rich, red powder is actually made.
In fact, some have been left completely bewildered to discover what paprika is before it becomes the substance you find in a jar on your spice rack.
In all honesty, how many of us have really thought about its origins before now?
Well, it turns out that paprika is made from dried and ground red peppers, including bell peppers and chilli peppers.
Yes, the brightly colored sweet peppers you’d find in the grocery store are what makes up the powder.
People have since been taking to Twitter to express their surprise at paprika’s origins, tweeting: “Learning that Paprika is just dried and crushed red bell peppers was really shocking. Like I dunno why I thought there was a Paprika tree somewhere.”
Another commented: “I also thought there was a curry tree and that allspice was a combination of spices.”
One added: “I’m flabbergasted at this discovery. This whole time I thought I was using some exotic spice to give my food some color.”
Paprika is most commonly used in Hungarian cuisine as well as Spanish dishes – and the origins will come as no surprise to native Hungarian speakers, as the word “paprika” also means pepper.
While paprika might have a reputation for being spicy, there are several different varieties from those with little to no kick, while others are made from hotter peppers or chilli powder.
Spanish cuisine also regularly uses smoked paprika, which is made of peppers which have been wood-smoked before being dried and crushed down to powder.
As well as adding flavor to a recipe, paprika is also a surefire way to give a dish an appetizing color too, with its bold pigment.
While it has often been seen as an exotic spice that is a distinct entity all of its own, chances are you might probably have the main ingredient to paprika languishing in your fridge drawer right now.
Of course, if you’re feeling daring, making your own paprika at home is also an option, however, store-bought varieties are usually pretty affordable and less time-consuming than drying and crushing your own.
Next time a recipe calls for a dash of paprika, you’ll know where that humble but mighty ingredient has come from before hitting your plate.
Featured image credit: Alessandro de Leo / Alamy