Paprika has been widely cultivated for hundreds of years. In Hungary, it’s a central ingredient in their most celebrated dish, Goulash, and it was a critical component of research that earned Hungarian Biochemist, Albert Szent-Györgyi, a Nobel Prize. The Hungarian government even nationalized all production of the pepper after World War II. You’d think it originated here, but the paprika plant has actually been traced back 7,500+ miles away.
The root of the paprika pepper
In 1594, Peter Martyr wrote that the peppers brought home from North America were “more pungent than that from the Caucasus.” A simple endorsement, but from that moment on, the sweet and spicy ingredient exploded across Europe.
While this culinary transformation was occurring in Europe, Native Americans had already been utilizing paprika and the pepper plant for thousands of years. Dating back to 7,000 BCE the paprika plant was a staple. When ancient Mayan, Aztec and Inca populations were thriving in the Americas, they had accumulated a vast store of knowledge about the paprika plant’s medicinal benefits. The active ingredient, capsaicin, is one of the underlying components of paprika’s many benefits.
Paprika was and continues to be popular in many forms -- bringing a bright vibrance and flavor to otherwise bland dishes. It has undergone selective breeding for hundreds of years in Europe to achieve different quality criteria and has been deeply adopted throughout the world.
Many of the paprika’s benefits can be linked to a single compound called capsaicin, which may stimulate the brain to secrete endorphins, a natural painkiller. It may also bring relief from pain by contracting nerve endings away from painful muscles. Scientific studies have even shown it may help decrease the risk of heart attacks, avert obesity and decrease blood clots, by acting against arthritic pain and protecting against stomach ulcers.
The paprika pepper can be sweet, spicy, smokey or mild, which makes it a flavorful and versatile ingredient to have in your arsenal. It’s also a great way to naturally enhance the color in your recipes, while offering several health benefits. Ready to shop our sustainably grown paprika? Start here.
Explore other blogs
Your Guide to Specialty Peppers
With all the delicious peppers Olam Spices offers, you may find it difficult to select the right pepper (or peppers) for your recipes. That’s why we're here to help. READ MORE
Growing Responsibly: Sustainable California Garlic
Sustainability has been top of mind for consumers and businesses, but what does it mean to be sustainable in terms of food? It means better growing practices, sustainable packaging, sustainable supply chains, etc. Let’s explore. READ MORE