Table of content A-Z


red pepper, piemento


Synonyms: red pepper, hot pepper, pimento, pod pepper, capsicum pepper

botanical name: Capsicum annuum and other species

Gewürzpaprika, Peperoni


The wild form of red pepper originally stemmed from Peru, Central America and the southern part of North America. In Peru this spice has been used since 2000 b.c. Columbus brought the pepper to Spain around 1500. Later it reached Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary, India and China.

Today peppers are grown as well in Brazil, southern and eastern Europe, Morocco and the states of the former Soviet Union.

Green peppers (peperoni) are usually sold as conserves in a spicy brine. Red pods are mainly ground. Fresh peppers are available all year round.

Appearance, taste, characteristics
Peppers are related to chili. Both plants are Capsicum species and belong botanically to the family Solanaceae. In Mexico alone there are more than 100 varieties of peppers that differ in shape, colour, size and degree of hotness or sharpness.

The plants are annual, grow bushy, and reach a height of 80 cm to 1.80 m, depending on the variety. From the white blossoms the elongated or wedge-shaped fruits mature; these are often erroneously referred to as pods, but they are, botanically speaking, berries. They are as a rule 5–12 cm long and up to 5 cm thick and somewhat curved. In contrast to vegetable peppers, the ripe fruits are smaller, more angular, and more pungent and develop little pulp and juice. They have a smooth, thin, leathery skin and contain many seeds. Depending on the variety these peppers are green, yellow, orange, red or brownish.

The spicy heat of the fruit also differs according to their origin and variety. Like chili, peppers are graded in sharpness from 1 to 10 on the Scoville scale. The fruits are for the most part dried and finely ground.

The heat, colour and aroma of ground red pepper sold are the result of mixing various components of the fruits in differing degrees. The more seeds and septa, or partitioning membranes, are included, for instance, the hotter is the powder.

The following categories of taste and quality are sold in Germany:
* Special-quality paprika is intensely red and has a fine aroma. It is made from mild red fruits without the seeds and membranes.

* Delicate paprika is bright red, very finely ground, and tastes mild and fruity-sweet. Fully ripe select fruits are used and the membranes, seeds, stems, tips and calyx are removed.

* Noble-sweet paprika is a spicy, dark-red variety with a mild, fruity-sweet aroma and a moderate degree of sharpness. Part of the seeds and membranes are included.

* Semi-sweet or half-sweet, goulash paprika is spicy sharp and not as intensely red as the other varieties. The membranes of the fruits are used completely.
* For Rosen-Paprika (hot paprika) the entire fruits are ground. This is the hottest paprika sold in Central Europe and it is used preferably in Hungary. It is red-brown and distinctly hot.
* For Merkantil-(commercial) or Königspaprika entire fruits of lower quality are used, and the seeds and membranes of other fruits or chili powder are added. The spice is brownish-red and bitingly hot and is rarely sold in Germany.

The sharpness of hot peppers, like that of chili, is due to the alkaloid capsaicin. It is present is large quantity in the seeds and membranes of the fruits. The degree of sharpness of the ground spice is, as mentioned above, controlled by the proportions of these components used. Therefore, the capsaicin content of the different types of paprika varies greatly.

Further secondary plant substances found in peppers are carotenoids and flavonoids. The fruits are also rich in vitamins C and B1 and contain numerous aromatic substances.

Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions
When you purchase fresh hot peppers, be sure that the skin is smooth and somewhat shiny. Above all, the stem-end should not be wrinkled or wizened; it is easy for mould to form here. The fresh pods should be kept in a plastic bag in the crisper of the refrigerator.

The dried and ground product will naturally keep longer. As usual with dried spices, it should be protected from light and stored cool and dry. Even when it is properly stored, ground paprika soon loses its strength, its colour and its aroma.

Presumed effect on health
The hot taste of paprika causes increased production of saliva and gastric juices during eating and stimulates the digestive organs.

Regular use of paprika for seasoning in normal amounts is supposed to offer protection from stomach ulcers. At very high doses, however, capsaicin irritates the skin and mucous membranes. It causes painful burning, and particularly contact with the eyes should be avoided.

Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation
Paprika is added to foods chiefly dried and ground. The dried fruits are occasionally also sold whole, chopped or in flakes. Pickled green peppers are called peperoni. Paprika has manifold uses, especially as a seasoning for soups, sauces and hearty meat dishes.

This spice is particularly popular in Hungary, where it is the basis for many meat dishes in combination with onions and bacon, for example, goulash, or chicken or veal paprikash. Fried potatoes, noodle and rice dishes can also be enhanced with paprika. It goes well with most legumes or pulses and vegetables, particularly white beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplant / aubergines and Brussels sprouts.

Marinades, mayonnaise, cream sauces, curd cheese and other cheeses can be seasoned with paprika. It is a component of many mixed spices, including fish spice, barbecue or grill spice, ground meat spice, pizza spice or curry powder. Ketchups, potato chips / crisps and pickled gherkins also contain paprika.

In the processed food industry, paprika oleoresin is used – an oily extract that contains the colouring and flavouring substances of paprika. Some products such as tomato paste, tinned fish, or sausages are coloured or flavoured in this way.

Seasoning tip

The name Rosenpaprika suggests a mild spice. However, you should be very careful about how much of this and of hot paprika you use. It is better to add more later, if desired.

Paprika harmonizes with basil, caraway, allspice, cardamom, coriander, thyme, marjoram, rosemary and oregano. It can also be combined with cloves, ginger, fennel, cinnamon, garlic, parsley, and yogurt or sour cream.

However, you should not heat paprika in fat or oil too high, because the sugar it contains will caramelize and bitter substances will form.




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