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This lovely spicy red powder is ground from mild to piquant peppers in the Capsicum family. The most common used to make paprika is the dried tomato pepper, which is closely related to other peppers, such as sweet peppers and jalapenos.
Paprikas on the market today come from as disparate locations as California, Spain, Chile and Hungary. It is Hungarian paprika that has become the most famous and most feel is the best quality. Cultivation began in the 17th century and the spice quickly became a staple of the Hungarian diet.
The aromatic flavor of the raw tomato pepper is between that of sweet and hot peppers. Drying and grinding creates a complex, pungent spice that is both spicy and sweet. The spice rack in your grocery store will carry a milder variety, while the spicier paprikas are found in gourmet groceries and online.
The powder is a great garnish and, when I was growing up, the main use was on deviled eggs. The true subtlety of its flavor and color is released with heating. Add the spice later in a dish, as the high sugar content will easily caramelize with direct heat.