Thursday, July 1, 2010

Paprika

Hello and Happy Thursday to you. I am happy to report that all is well in our little herb garden and that we have had several new appearances since Tuesday. As of Wednesday night we have three new paprika sprouts and they look very healthy.


I have always joked that paprika is my favorite spice. I think that came from a line in Tom Hank’s movie, Bachelor Party, when he says something to the effect of everybody’s favorite spice “Paprika” I have to watch the movie again to be sure but I have to admit, I have always loved the way it beautifies a potato salad. Aside from that, it didn’t really do much for me because the stuff I bought in the little jars pretty much had no flavor.

Well I am here to tell you I have learned a great deal since Dave first told me he needed a local paprika grower. First off, what I did not know is that paprika is actually a chili-pepper that has its origins in Eastern Europe, primarily Hungary. There are over 30 varieties of paprika peppers ranging in taste from sweet and mild to mildly hot. As a rule, red paprika peppers are mild and brown ones are hot.

Paprika has a reputation for being bland but that is because in the USA we use it as a garnish and it takes mild heat to bring out the flavor in paprika. The best way to use it, I have learned, is to add it to a few minutes before a dish is finished cooking at low heat. Too high of heat will kill the flavor but 5 minutes at low temperature will do wonders for any dish. That is one reason my friend Dave wants to use it in his rib rub, it really enhances the flavor and there is nothing that compares to homegrown paprika.

Paprika peppers are relatively easy to grow and are a great herb for a beginning gardener to grow. They need moist, well drained soil and seem to do well between 75 and 85 degrees. Because it is so hot here in Arizona I will opt to grow them indoors in containers and with the humidity being so low here, I am considering buying a small portable greenhouse to keep my herbs from drying out. These are relatively easy to build using PVC pipe and plastic sheeting, but for less than $50.00 I can buy one at the local garden center or online. The ones I have looked at are about the size of a small bookshelf which works well in my condo (See links below).  If there isn’t enough light a few grow lights will solve the problem. I plan on buying some of these very soon. The other benefit to using a portable greenhouse for my paprika plants is it really cuts down on watering. I will be ordering one of these after I sign-off because I have some very nice looking sprouts that are going to need transplanting soon.

Well, that wraps up another edition of tending the garden. I hope I have been able to pass along some useful information and please, if you have questions about anything I have written about or you have some useful information to share, please leave a comment. I will be glad to share it in my blog.





Until tomorrow, Happy Gardening -Scott-

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