Paprika is the featured ingredient in recipes for chorizo sausage, chicken paprikash and other dishes, but the differences between the varieties of the spice are stark. Crafted from dried peppers, the powdery spice is available in Spanish or Hungarian varieties. Spanish paprika comes from smoked chili peppers, while Hungarian paprika is derived from dried, hot peppers or sweet peppers, such as the red-bell or Hungarian alma-paprika peppers. Regardless of the nationality of origin or heat they provide, paprika peppers are ground to a fine consistency and filtered until all of the remains are sand-like granules.
Rinse your peppers to remove exterior dirt or soil, and pat dry with paper towels.
Dry the peppers. You can do this one of two ways. The natural method lets the sun's heat do the work. Set the peppers on a shaded outdoor table covered with paper towels on a hot, dry day. Allow the peppers to dry in the heat for up to two days. If you have a food dehydrator, insert the peppers and follow the manufacturer's instructions for drying peppers.
Trim the stem from the top of the dried peppers and slit the sides. Using your finger, scrape out any seeds and discard them.
Chop the peppers on a cutting board into squares of no more than 1 inch on any side.
Load a handful of pepper pieces into the coffee-bean grinder or food processor and pulverize them. Dump the contents of the grinder into a bowl and repeat the process until all of the peppers are ground.
Hold the sieve over a second bowl and gently shake the ground peppers through the mesh. Remove any remaining particles by hand and grind them into smaller pieces. Dump the contents into the sieve again and shake the powder through.
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- Hank Shaw, author of "Hunter Angler Gardener Cook," reports that three paprika plants yield 10 tbsp. of ground paprika.
Jared Paventi is the communications director for a disease-related nonprofit in the Northeast. He holds a master's degree from Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication and a bachelor's degree from St. Bonaventure University. He also writes a food appreciation blog: Al Dente.