Paprika or Paprika. It is the spice descendant of chili powder that Columbus brought to the Spanish Parliament as the first product from the New World to reach Europe . From that year of 1493 to the present day it has undergone several transformations including name changes and the incorporation of Old World products. In theory, both products are the same, but they have slight manufacturing differences, which in a way can separate them.


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  • 1 Origin
    • 1 Name
    • 2 Development
  • 2 Evolution of paprika
    • 1 Species and adulteration
  • 3 varieties of paprika
    • 1 Hungarian paprika
    • 2 Spanish paprika
    • 3 Museum of Paprika
  • 4 Uses
    • 1 Other terms
  • 5 Paprika in Peru
    • 1 Features
    • 2 Varieties of paprika in Peru
  • 6 External links
  • 7 Sources



Christopher Columbus was the first to give the name of ají (from the Arahuaco ajwi) to the powder that he would later take to the Spanish Courts, when he recorded it in his logbook although he would confuse it with pepper (black pepper, Piper nigrum). Its shipowners (investors) intended to find a new route for the Spices they brought from the East. But they discovered new spices that would change the culinary forms and orientations of both worlds. Perhaps it can be interpreted as that the American products took revenge for the excesses made on their growers.

The paprika or paprika was originally from the Caribbean, but the Europeans transformed it to make it from them.

The name Paprika apparently has its origin in the Greco-Latin word Peperi-Piper. Presumably in the south Slavic it was gradually changing its name from Peperke to finally reach Paprika. It is a crop originating in South America , specifically in the area of Peru cultivating on the north, central and southern coast of this country and in [[Bolivia]. Paprika is a plant that was planted in various places in South America that is considered the center of origin of paprika. Peru and Mexico are the places where peppers were grown even before the discovery of America .

The pepper was a staple food of the indigenous population and its culinary uses were different according to the varieties, some of which were for the exclusive use of the upper classes. Since its arrival in Spain in 1493, its adaptation and cultivation spread throughout the 16th century , to other countries in Europe, Asia and Africa . However, Hungary has been one of the countries that has most developed paprika since its appearance in the mid-sixteenth century, and perhaps those who have emphasized this name the most.


The chili or chili brought from America was creating hybrids that gave rise to new varieties.

The ají (pepper or chili), although in some parts they name it paprika, is a plant with a multitude of types that gives rise to different forms and uses of the fruit. Some varieties are used as ornamentals for the attractiveness of their small fruits; however, its main use is in human food as an accompaniment vegetable, as a condiment and / or as a dye (paprika). Fundamental for the elaboration of some Spanish products after their appearance, such as sausages and blood sausages, this practice is extended to other countries, as it provides light preservative properties in addition to color and flavor.

Its development as a large-scale crop dates back to the Napoleonic era. However, its cultivation has had a series of ups and downs in its development, including the influence of the First and Second World Wars. All pepper fruits have a high vitamin content, mainly in the form of vitamin C. Medicinal properties such as digestive, diuretic, etc. are attributed to it.

Paprika (paprika powder) or chili pepper is a red powdery seasoning with a characteristic flavor obtained from the drying and grinding of certain varieties of red peppers. It is a fundamental ingredient of typical Spanish dishes, whether with potatoes (potatoes, another American product), octopus and other seafood, as well as sausages such as chorizos. Also in other gastronomies such as Hungarian and other Slavic they use it abundantly with the name of paprika. Although it has invaded and settled in the kitchens of the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Currently the first exporters of this product worldwide are India and China. Thanks to scientific studies for the genetic improvement and / or support of insects, some varieties of orange, yellow and white color have been obtained.

Paprika evolution

In Spain all hot spices were called pepper. So, to distinguish what today is called chili or chili (Capsicum varieties) from black pepper (Piper nigrum), they called the first chile peppers , although it did not really come from there. Later Linnaeusassigned these plants the generic name of Capsicum, which covers the many kinds of chili or chili that have been discovered, which are used both as vegetables and as spices to season dishes. But in the case of this chili powder, it was initially called Pepper of Spain when it passed to the rest of the other European Courts, mainly in the Austro-Hungarian area. As we have already mentioned, Hungarians seem to have created and spread the word paprika.

Through cultivation and / or perhaps by seeds from different sources, these Europeans discovered that chili peppers occur in multiple shapes, sizes, and colors. That there are round, conical, short or elongated, like little buttons (piquín pepper), similar to carrots, in pear shapes. In green, orange, yellow, red, purple or almost white colors. Some of them are sweet, others less sweet, and so fierce (spicy) that it seemed that there was fire in the mouth. Generally, the youngest ones are, although this is not always true; the biggest ones are almost always sweet that sometimes is not fulfilled either.

Almost at the same time it was discovered that these chilies hybridize with great ease, with which new forms and degrees of spiciness have multiplied and developed throughout the world, when exported to other continents, and when acclimatized to them, the original seeds of Mexican chili peppers. With the Fleet of the Indies and the Manila Galleon , its spread in Asia and Africa occurred in such a short time that, for many years, Europeans believed that chili peppers originated in the East .

Species and adulteration

The chili or chili brought from America was creating hybrids that gave rise to new varieties.

Of these Capsicum the sweetest varieties, which the Spanish called peppers, began to be cultivated, especially in Spain . And these created a whole group of new culinary variants in the southern regions of the country. In the 17th century botanical treatises they are already mentioned: “they are cultivated with great diligence in Castile , not only by gardeners, but by women, in pots they place on balconies, to be used all year round, whether fresh or dried, in sauces or instead of pepper. ”

The seeds of the Mexican chili also arrived in the East (Asia and Southeast Asia), and for inexplicable reasons, the hottest species and where they are the most preferred. The Indonesian diplomats who arrived in Mexico surpass the local Indians in their tolerance of the bravest chilies, those who bite and chew with admirable stoicism because that bravery is already part of their culinary tradition. With its spread throughout Europe, it became extremely popular in Hungary . But it should not have been well known elsewhere, perhaps due to weather problems. And contrary to what can be thought, spicy chili peppers have apparently had more follow-up than the rest of their varieties.

As an example, one of the “fathers” of modern cuisine is used, the great chef Auguste Escoffier, a famous chef in a Monte Carlo restaurant and later a writer, already in the first half of the 20th century , says: “that paprika Szeged’s was a new Hungarian spice. ” And it is that that Spanish paprika has been declining since in 1929 the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera authorized the addition of oil to the paprika (which had been prohibited until then), so the poorer quality paprika improved its appearance and rose from weight (improving its price).

This practice, which in essence was to authorize its adulteration, led to the destruction of the Spanish export of paprika and, especially, of La Vera paprika, which could not compete in price with the Murcian (main beneficiary of that measure) because its system of drying with smoke, plus transportation to ports made it more expensive. But that was not the main cause of the decline of the paprika (de la Vera and Murcian) but the oiled paprika got rancid during the long and humid trips by boat, so that it arrived in poor condition to the main overseas markets. So in a few years it ended with a trade that in 1901 exported nearly twenty thousand tons of paprika best customers. These, according to the General Directorate of Customs, were: Argentina ,Portugal , Algeria , Cuba , Germany , Italy , Uruguay , Great Britain ( England ), Chile . The problem was serious for Murcia , but in Vera, whose paprika had been the local engine since the mid- 19th century , it was a real catastrophe.

Paprika varieties

The paprika or paprika has given way to three fundamental forms: sweet, spicy and bittersweet.

As a result of the elaboration and depending on the types of Chiles used, three important varieties have been created:

  • Sweet paprika: As its name suggests, it has its characteristic flavor but is not spicy.
  • Hot paprika: It also itches to a greater or lesser degree.
  • Sweet and sour or okal paprika: It is generally obtained from a specific variety of peppers (the jariza variety), but a similar result can be obtained from the mixture in different proportions from the previous two.

Depending on the raw material, the paprika also acquires various properties. One of the examples of use for the preparation of sausages, it is essential that the paprika also has preservative qualities to prevent its degradation.

Hungarian paprika

In Hungary it is made with the name of paprika and its use is so abundant throughout the dishes of this country that it turns out to be one of the most typical ingredients of Hungarian cuisine, especially in its national dish: goulash, which is a clear example of this. Varieties of peppers typical of the region are used, these have specific shapes and qualities. This paprika is the best known in the north and east of almost all European gastronomies, except for Spanish ones. In German, the word Paprika also designates the pepper, that is, the plant and especially the fruit of Capsicum annuum.

Paprika from Spain

The Spanish paprika or paprika in drying operations by the peasantry.

It is an ingredient introduced into Spanish culinary history as early as the 16th century , as we have already mentioned. One of the culinary researchers of the late nineteenth century , Ángel Muro says in his “Culinary Dictionary” of 1892, referring to paprika, that: it has become for almost all the inhabitants of Spain, but mainly for those of Castilla la Vieja , a essential item, such as salt and oil.

The two best-known paprika varieties in Spain are those that come from the Comarca de la Vera, in Cáceres , introduced there since the 16th century by the Jerónimos monks from the Yuste Monastery. The other is the paprika from Murcia, which was also introduced by Jeronimo monks from the Monastery of La Ñora (Murcia), and is derived from the red peppers of the “bola” variety, and they are the only two Spanish varieties that have a designation of origin.

This paprika from La Vera, is distinguished from the varieties from other countries and specifically that of Murcia by the characteristic smoky aroma it gives off, and is due to the drying process using oak or oak wood smoke in the months of October and November. In Spain, paprika is usually easily found in supermarkets or grocery stores. It is usually marketed in metal cans with a suitable hermetic closure cap to preserve its aroma and preserve moisture. Although the industries have modernized a bit and now there are other types of packaging in addition.

Paprika Museum

The Spanish paprika museum as an identity of the region of Jaraíz de la Vera.

In the town of Jaraíz de la Vera , belonging to the Comarca de la Vera, there is a museum dedicated to this seasoning. It is the so-called Paprika Museum, located in the Plaza Mayor of Jaraíz de la Vera, and which seems to be the only one in the world.

The museum is located at number 7 of the Plaza Mayor de Jaraíz de la Vera, in the Building of the Old Palace of Bishop Manzano, a building with many years of history. It is surrounded by the City Hall, and by beautiful streets of Jaraíz, such as Calle Damas, or Calle Vargas. It is a 17th century building , owned by Bishop Manzano, born in Jaraíz de la Vera. The building was unoccupied, so the mayor, José Agustín Tovar, adapted it to house the current museum. It was inaugurated on 19 of January of 2007 officially Identity Museum of Paprika de la Vera. The building has three floors that have an elevator. It also has an elevator so that disabled people can access the upper floors.

  • Lower Level: On this floor is the reception and a room where the history of Paprika is explained through a video, from how it arrived in Europe brought by Christopher Columbus, to a legend of Tía Maína, supposedly the accidental creator of the Paprika.
  • Middle Level: This consists of three rooms: one is a storyteller, where stories related to the spice are told. In another are official documents, essential to form the Denomination of Origin of Paprika de la Vera. There are also historical cans of paprika. In the last one, the growth process of the pepper is explained, the types of peppers that exist: Ocales, Jaranda, Jariza, Jeromín, and Bola, and the existing types of Paprika: Sweet, Bittersweet and Spicy; as well as some old tools for cultivation.
  • Upper Level: In this level of the Museum, the process of drying the pepper in the “drying rooms” is shown, as well as machines to collect and grind the pepper.
  • Museum Activities: In its few years of existence, the Paprika Museum has consecrated and stood out for a rich and heterogeneous volume of activities aimed at deepening the history of Paprika de la Vera and its preparation. Temporary exhibitions, school outreach activities, outreach workshops, animations, conference cycles and congresses have also been prepared. Exhibitions of photography, exposition of paintings, or of the posters participating in the announcement contest of the local Tobacco and Pepper Festivals are held in August.


One of the main uses in Spanish cuisine is the preparation of preserves, mainly sausages; such as sobrasadas, chistorras, chorizos (some of them from the folk slaughter of the pig), lomo adobado or morcón; and pickles, typically mussels but also chicken, sardines, mackerel, etc. It is also used in daily cooking as a condiment or decoration for some dishes, such as octopus, Moorish skewers, Meneás potatoes, etc. One of its first uses was as a simple food coloring, and it can in this way dress olives in Madrid, or chickpeas from Madrid stew, etc., in some of these cases they provide a smoky aroma. It is also used in the preparation of sauces such as mojo picón, and mixed with oil in Galician mussels. The preparation of pickles, as well as the flavoring of soups (especially in garlic soup). It is used in rice (as a dye cheaper than saffron), or added to crumbs.

In North African cuisine, on the other side of the Mediterranean , it is used to decorate chickpea or eggplant puree. In Hungarian cuisine, the abundant use in various dishes, including the famous goulash, is well known. In Portuguese cuisine, colorau is used in dishes with rice.

Other terms

In some Latin American countries , the word paprika corresponds to green or bell pepper. In these countries, it is normal for chili powder (and not specifically paprika) to be known simply as ají, ají panca or colorante. Although in others the Spanish ancestry is maintained just as at the beginning. In others it is unknown, as they have their own mix version, like the Allspice from Jamaica .

In Venezuela it is known as Spanish paprika, since the name of paprika refers to the pepper.

Paprika in Peru

In this specific case of South America it refers to the cultivation of chili (chili) and not so much to the processed product, although as an export product it takes three fundamental forms: table, pressed and ground. It is mainly used in the food industry as a natural dye and to flavor foods. In the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry it is used to color pencils and makeup powders, essential oil or oleoresin.

In Peru, the main production centers are located in the departments of Lima , Ica and Arequipa . This crop has the advantage of being produced throughout the year, which allows it to supply the international market continuously. And the varieties Papriking, Papriqueen and Sonora are cultivated.

Spain, although it is the most traditional producer of this sweet pepper and one of its largest consumers, the rise in costs of Spanish production during the 1990s forced its producers to seek new land. They tried it in Argentina and Chile , but the conditions of the land and the climate were not appropriate. Later, they continued the search for African countries such as Tunisia , Morocco and Zimbabwe , but the political and social crises drove them away.

Thus they arrived in Peru. Although paprika was already known in the country, the import of improved seeds, the temperate climate, moderate labor costs, and the adaptation of the crop to the economy of the Peruvian valleys led to paprika to levels that surprised the Spanish. Whether you have a small parcel or large tracts of land, everyone wins. It should be noted that Malaysia and Germany are one of the main paprika importing countries after the United States , however Peru has not managed to position itself in these markets despite its importance as global buyers.

Likewise, countries such as South Korea , Hungary and Thailand , represent interesting markets to diversify export destinations, since they have an interesting growth rate and should not be overlooked. Imports from these countries have grown, between 2000-2004, 25%, 62% and 23% respectively


Table bell pepper

  • Uses: Direct consumption
  • Good size (10-12 cm. In length) and good appearance without grooves)
  • Appearance: No stains or discolorations on the surface
  • Color: does not require specific Asta grades
  • Moisture Content: 12%

Pressed paprika

  • Uses: Serves as raw material for obtaining ground paprika
  • Characteristic: Whole dried fruits
  • Color: 110 – 300 degree Asta
  • Moisture Content: 14% Humidity

Ground Paprika

  • Uses: Flavoring and raw material for the extraction of oleoresin
  • Characteristic: Granulometry according to customer requirement
  • Flavoring: 110-250 Degrees Asta
  • Oleoresin Extraction: 200 – 350 Degrees Asta
  • Moisture Content: 12%

Varieties of paprika in Peru

The varieties of Paprika currently cultivated in Peru are the following:

  • PAPRI KING: The fruit produced by this variety of paprika has an average length of 15.2 to 20.3 cm. The fruit is thin-walled with an excellent red color and little pungency in most growing conditions, the drying capacity is very good. Papri King offers ASTA 220/280 unit levels. Petoseed (1990)
  • PAPRI QUEEN: Produces thin-walled fruits, slightly shorter in length than Papri King but much wider in shoulder; good drying capacity. It offers 200/300 levels ASTA units with less than 500 Scoville degrees. Petoseed (1990)
  • SONORA: Anaheim type pepper is characterized by excellent harvests of large and uniform fruits. It produces fruits of (20.3 x 3.8 cm.) With two smooth cells and thick walls. It is an erect, medium-sized plant with early maturity. The fruit ripens towards dark red and has very high levels of ASTA. It is excellent for processing with 300 to 600 Scoville. Petoseed (1990).


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