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Spanish PaprikaSpanish smoked paprika or Pimenton is another of Spain's finest products which carries the "DO" (Denominacion de Origin) Paprika is widely used in all types of Spanish cooking and is of course what gives the world famous chorizo its deep red colour.

Paprika is made from dried, ground red chili peppers. The region of La Vera is probably the most highly respected area in which the finest paprika is produced, a very dry and hot region which is perfect for growing and cultivating the red peppers.

The peppers are harvested from September through until early December during which time they are hung and dried in drying houses or more commonly drying sheds. In many local villages you can see peppers hanging from balconies drying in the sun - an impressive and very colourful sight against the pure white washed exterior of the building. While the peppers are drying they are turned regularly to allow for equal air distribution (very similar to rotating hams during the curing process).

Paprika from the La Vera region (Pimenton de la Vera) is always smoked using oak, the result is a tremendously deep smokey flavour and aroma, which adds a superb authentic flavour to many dishes. Adding both colour and unique flavour is what makes this paprika an essential for every Spanish kitchen.

Once the peppers are dried they are then taken to the mill where they are ground, a quality paprika that boasts the DO label will have all the seeds and stalks removed to guarantee the products purity.

There are three different types of smoked paprika, each one coming from a different type of pepper:

  • Pimenton Dulce
    the most common variety is sweet paprika or Pimenton Dulce this paprika is made from round or bell peppers and is quite sweet on the palate.
  • Pimenton Agridulce
    The second is a bitter - sweet paprika known as Pimenton Agridulce not a common paprika and only recently introduced to outside Spain this variety is made using a mixture of round peppers and the more fiery longer shaped pepper resulting in a bittersweet blend and flavour.
  • Pimenton Picante
    Lastly there is hot paprika or Pimenton Picante this paprika is made from long almost burgundy in colour hot red peppers, almost always used in the production of hot Spanish chorizos this paprika boasts a deep ruby red colour and that extra bite required for hotter dishes.

On the Spanish table paprika is almost up their with the salt, pepper and olive oil - for tapas such as egg dishes, dips and salsa, paprika is often used to add flavour, a light sprinkle can transform many recipes either as an ingredient or through presentation. The aroma from smoked paprika is certainly reminiscent of the Mediterranean as is of course that unique flavour . . . a real treat for the senses.


Serrano Ham direct from Spain : www.orceserranohams.com

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Published 03 May 2008

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