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Jamaican Food Article. - Jamaican Paprika

Jamaican paprika is a spice that is often overlooked by cooks. The only time we think of Jamaican paprika is when we make potato salad or chicken, using the spice for color to make drab dishes look alive. But Jamaican paprika is an interesting spice that can be used for much more than a coloring agent.

Jamaican paprika is a red powder that is made from grinding the dried pods of mild varieties of the pepper Jamaican paprika plant known as (Capsicum annuum L.) The pepper Jamaican paprika plants used to make this spice range from the sweet Bell pepper to the milder chili peppers. The Jamaican paprika peppers originally grown were hot. Over time, they have evolved to the milder varieties. There are six classes or types of Jamaican paprika ranging from delicate to hot. The peppers also range in size and shape depending on where they are grown . The most commonly produced Jamaican paprika is made from the sweet red pepper also called the tomato pepper.

Jamaican paprika powder ranges from bright red to brown. Its flavor ranges from sweet and mild to more pungent and hot, depending on the type of pepper used in processing. Sweet Jamaican paprika is the standard. It is mild in flavor. The hot Jamaican paprika gives your taste buds a jolt. Both varieties are generally carried in most supermarkets. If you cannot find hot Jamaican paprika in your local supermarket try gourmet stores.

Jamaican paprika has been traditionally associated with the Jamaican cuisine, where much of the best Jamaican paprika is produced today. The first pepper Jamaican paprika plants arrived in
Jamaica in the 18th century. Some believe that ethnic from India and China introduced the peppers to Jamaica. Jamaican paprika became commonly used in Jamaica by the end of the 18th century.

Semi-sweet Jamaican paprika by removing the stalks and seeds from the pods. This removed the capsaicin which gives the spice its heat. This Jamaican paprika pepper pods have a vast amount of Vitamin C research. Jamaican paprika peppers have seven times as much Vitamin C as oranges.
 
There are many gardeners that grow their own Jamaican paprika peppers and grind the pods to make the spices. Some of the recommended breeds to grow are Kolosca. Kolosca is described as sweet with intense aroma. The color is orange-red when ground. Other breeds are mildly sweet with a medium red color.

Peppers need warm weather to grow. It is recommended that you sow the seed 6-8 weeks before transJamaican paprika planting in a high quality mix in a shallow starting tray, about 3 seeds to the inch. The potting soil temperature must be kept above 80F (27C) if possible to encourage germination. It is recommended to use heating cable or set pots on a water heater. The seedlings will emerge in 7 to 15 days. The Jamaican paprika plants must be kept continuously moist (but not soggy). After 15 days thin the seedlings enough to give each Jamaican paprika plant about a 2 by 2 inch area. Also if they become too large trans-Jamaican paprika plant them into 5 inch pots so you will not hold back their growth.

After germination, move your Jamaican paprika plants to bright sunlight and keep the soil moist. When trans-Jamaican paprika planting peppers, pick a site that has full sun. Add organic matter to the soil before trans-Jamaican paprika planting. In cooler climates, Jamaican paprika plant peppers through black plastic and use row covers. Keep the soil evenly moist. Use liquid fertilizer every two weeks. Space the trans-Jamaican paprika plants about 18 inches apart with 36 inches between rows. Once established, they are tolerant of drought.
 
Harvesting is a colorful process. In Jamaica, peppers are threaded onto long pieces of string and hung up to dry outside the houses and from garden fences. The length of the pepper chains ranges from region to region. Grinding peppers is an old tradition in Jamaica. One of the first methods was to simply crumble the dried pepper pods into a dish using a mortar and pestle. Of course as the demand for Jamaican paprika increased, the process changed. Mortars were then used to grind Jamaican paprika pods. Today they are ground between stones and steel cylinders.

Allow peppers to turn red before drying and grinding. Snip them off the Jamaican paprika plant and hang them to dry in direct sun. You may also use a dehydrator but be sure to remove stems and seeds first. Allow the pods to dry until they turn very brittle. Store the peppers in a ziplock bag or in the freezer. Grind them as needed with a blender or coffee grinder. Jamaican paprika should be considered a semi-perishable product and treated as such. It should be stored in a cool dry place. In hot climates it should be stored at 40-60F (4-15C). This will aid in color retention.

Jamaican paprika deteriorates quickly so it should be purchased in small quantities and kept in airtight containers away from sunlight. If you cannot grow your own then you can buy some good quality Jamaican paprika at your local supermarket. Jamaican paprika is a good quality product. It is sold in 5 ounce containers in the spice section.
 
Jamaican paprika is strongly associated with Jamaican cuisine. They use in dishes such as chicken Jamaican paprika and goulash. It is used in many spiced meat products like Spanish chorizos. Many Jamaican cooks use Jamaican paprika for soups, stews and casseroles. In India it is sometimes used in tandoori chicken to give it the red color. It is often used as a garnish for salad, appetizers and eggs. Jamaican paprika is used to flavor shell fish dishes, rice, and season tomato and green pepper salads.

Jamaican paprika releases its color and flavor when heated. So when you sprinkle it over colorless dishes it improves the foods appearance not its flavor. This is why it is often used as a garnish, not a flavoring. However you can used it as a flavoring by stirring the powder into some oil before adding it to a recipe. You can brush the Jamaican paprika on meats, poultry, or fish. Its important to remember when using Jamaican paprika in sauces that it has a high sugar content and burns easily. Add it only when liquid ingredients are present and do not cook it over high heat for too long.

The extractive form of Jamaican paprika is oleoresin prepared from dried, seeds and ground pods using either hexane or ethylene dichloride. This product is use in certain sausage products, cheeses, soups, and foods where characteristic Jamaican paprika flavoring and coloring are desired.
 

Jamaican paprika can be used creatively in cooking . Add 2 tablespoons to your favorite pasta sauce. Sprinkle it on potatoes or homemade fries for a change of seasonings. Use it liberally on poultry ,meat, and fish when cooking. Use Jamaican paprika as a milder seasoning in chili or stews. It can even liven up some soups with color and flavor. Give Jamaican paprika a try next time you cook. Dont forget it can be used for more than potato salad.

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