Paprika, 90 ASTA, sounds rather scientific. ASTA stands for the American Spice Trade Association, a group founded in 1907 that represents spice producers, brokers, growers, dehydrators, traders and so on. The ASTA number simply refers to the brightness of the red color and is a means of classification (which, as we’ve discussed, is quite needed for paprika). 90 is a dust red with the smell of ancient earth and cold cave stone – an unlikely flavor for paprika. Use when you want a ruddy color and you need a paprika that offers background support to other prominent spices.
If there was any spice with a more complicated history or confusing categorization, it must be paprika. Paprika is made from the Capsicum annuum plant, which sounds simple enough. However, there are dozens of varieties of this pepper - both chile and bell. Yet, genetically, they’re all the same species. (Think of it in the way all people are human, but look very different from each other.)
Paprika is technically native to North and Central America and was used by the indigenous peoples as a food and as a coloring agent. Spanish explorers became enamored with the plant and brought it back to Spain along with tomatoes, potatoes, and other produce. The Spanish – particularly the lower classes, as the heat of paprika was considered undignified by the rich – began using the seeds in food preparation.
The seeds spread past Iberia to Turkey and throughout the Ottoman Empire, as well as throughout Europe to the Balkan countries and Russia. Later on it became endeared by India and the Middle East. And, of course, each country began breeding it to their tastes; the Spanish by smoking it, the Turks preferring hotter varieties, and the Hungarians loved it sweet and mild. Hungary and Spain, however, are the major producers of paprika, with the United States as a distant third.
Thus, we have endless varieties of paprika. Whew.
|Ingredients||Dried red peppers.|
|Recommended Applications||This Paprika, rich in color with a slightly smoky flavor is great with stews, egg dishes, rice dishes, poultry shrimp, steamed vegetables or rice dishes. Also wonderful when added to a cream based sauce or soup.|
|Basic Preparation||Ready to use as is, no preparation is necessary.|
|Cuisine||Cajun, European, Hungarian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Moroccan, Spanish, Turkish|
|Taste & Aroma||Hot|
|Handling / Storage||Store in a cool, dry area.|
|Qualities||Gluten-Free, Kosher Parve, Non-GMO|
|Country of Origin||Peru|
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