Pepper Hunter now delves into one of Shepherdess Celeste’s favorite spices and that is Paprika. If you have never tasted freshly ground paprika in your culinary experiences you are missing a treat! Paprika comes in sweet, medium and hot depending upon the peppers that you grow or find in specialty stores. If you purchase your peppers they will not be as flavorful as when you grow them.
Paprika Peppers are easy to grow, even in the Rockies and they always, did I say always, provide a bountiful harvest. To grow these magnificent peppers all you need is sunlight, water, and a good soil. You can grow them in containers, greenhouses or under the blue sky.
We will begin exploring the World of the Paprkia with one I love and that is the Leutschauer Paprika. It originated in Leutschau (Slovakia) and from there was taken to the Matra mountains of northern Hungary in the 1800s, where it is still widely grown today, and then from there to here, if you choose to grow them. It is considered a rare pepper.
It is the perfect drying pepper and almost looks like a ruby jewel when completely dried. It is a medium to a twang of hot.
I grow my Leutchauer Paprika in my greenhouses because I want to ensure that I have some for the coming year.
Leutschauer Paprika pepper plants are short, erect 2 foot high plants that grow fast and very productive. These peppers will require staking or some type of support as they become heavy leaden with fruit. The green peppers mature to a bright red and average nearly three inches long and one and a half inches wide. Leutschauer peppers are very uniform in shape and have thin walls, which are ideal for a drying pepper. Inside, the pepper has a very large seed ball, and quite a few seeds. They take at least 80 days.
Leutschauer Paprika peppers grow abundantly in a wide variety of conditions though they do prefer temperate climates (of course I grow mine in the Rockies and they do excellently). The Hungarian peppers have a longer season, with fruits in various stages of maturity on the plant at one time which is why I grow mine in the greenhouses.
The heirloom plant is disease and drought resistant and is a favorite of home gardeners.
Leutschauer Paprika has a smoky and spicy sweet taste. Fresh peppers are considered very flavorful and have a sweet aroma and crisp texture. The heat level of the Leutschauer Paprika pepper is under 1,000 Scoville Heat Units, which is roughly equivalent to a cubanelle or banana pepper. Paprika peppers are traditionally dried and used to make a spicy chile powder, or ‘paprika’. Most of the time this pepper is dried and then ground into a fine powder for cooking. I put mine in glass and keep it away from heat and light for maximum storage. Dry Leutschauer Paprika peppers to preserve them for up to six months. Fresh peppers will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
The Leutschauer Paprika pepper is a rare heirloom variety of paprika pepper, botanically classified as Capsicum annuum.
All members of Capsicum annuum contain high amounts of vitamin C, as well as vitamins A and B-complex. The bright red color of the Leutschauer Paprika peppers comes from phytonutrients in the fruits called carotenoids, which provide strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. The presence of capsaicin in the peppers also provides potential cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties.
When fresh, the small peppers can be stuffed, or sliced and sautéed. The mild spice is well-suited for making a pepper jelly. Roast and puree Leutschauer Paprika peppers for a spicier version of red pepper coulis. Roasting or drying the pepper brings out the spiciness and the smoky flavor.
Peppers of the Capsicum annuum variety were brought to Hungary by the Ottoman or Turkish soldiers. The first peppers grown for the spice Hungary is famous for, were first grown in 1529 by the Turks in what is now Budapest. The first use of the English word “paprika” was in 1896, which came from Hungary and was a derivative of the Slovakian or Croatian word "papar."
These are the Paprika types that have some heat. When I use the word hot it means has heat. Not hot like other hot peppers. The heat will range from barely detectable to above a hot jalapeno. The one type that does have a good kick to it is the Targu Mures from Transylvania. These peppers range from Eastern Europe to Western Russia and some are found as far south as Turkey. Some of the Hot Paprika peppers are large enough to stuff like the Alma Paprika but most are dried to make powders for cooking in traditional dishes.
To Make Shepherds Heart Farm Paprika I dry my peppers thoroughly. Usually I store them until mid-winter when I catch up and have time to process them. I remove the seeds from each pod and then blend in my coffee grinder going from mild peppers to hot peppers so that I do not mix hot and sweet. If I want that combination of hot-sweet I add it when I prepare my dish. Then I store the paprika in glass, with a little prayer that I have enough paprika until the next season.