From a Budapest website, this paprika help:
History, Facts & Recipes
Production of Hungarian Paprika
Hungarian Paprika Types
Where to Buy Hungarian Paprika
Common Paprika Dishes
Hungarian Paprika Facts
Paprika powder is produced by grinding the dried deep red paprika pods of the pepper plant (Capsicum annum L. is the botanical name)
* Although paprika is the syambol of Hungary's cuisine the plant was brought to the country by the Turks only in the 16-17th centuries.
* its pungency ranges from sweet to mildly hot and very hot, depending of the type of pepper the powder was produced. The colour of the spices varies from mild to bright red and there are papika powder types with brownish colour too.
* Note that not the brightest red paprika is the hottest!
The orange coloured one will make you really cry.
* the hotness is caused by capsaicin, a chemical that is extracted from paprika plants to use in pharmaceutical production due to its pan killer effect
* The fresh red pepper is rich in vitamin C (150mg/100g paprika) and other important minerals
* Albert Szent-Györgyi, Hungarian scientist was awarded the Noble prize in 1937 for discovering vitamin C, its anti-scorbuitc and other physiological effects.
He and his colleagues worked at the laboratory of the Szeged University. Szent-Györgyi and his collegues experimented with the paprika plant and they extracted vitamin C first in the world form the vegetable.
* Would you think that even pálinka (brandy) is made from paprika?
History of Hungarian Paprika
The Turks introduced the pepper plant to Hungary during their rule in the 16th-17th centuries.
At first it was regarded and used as an ordinary plant and decorated the gardens.
Sheperds and herdsmen who had more contact with the invaders started spice their meals with the fiery powder.
Then paprika got to the kitchens of the peasants.
Aristocrats found the peasant foods flavoured with the red spice very tasty and slowly they started to use paprika too.
By the 19th century paprika became a dominant spice in Hungarian kitchens and restaurants.
Production of Hungarain Paprika
Due to the favourable climate and geographical conditions Hungarian paprika has a bright red colour and a distinctive rich flavour that allowed Hungary to became one of the leading paprika producers in the world.
Kalocsa and Szeged in the southern part of Hungary are the heart of paprika production in Hungary. These regions have the highest amount of sunny hours a year and paprika plants need lots of sunshine to get ripe and sweet.
Riped peppers are harvested in September. Kalocsa, Szeged and the neighbouring villages are adorned with bright red, threaded paprika strings, hung from the fencesa and porches.
The farmers used to hung the paprika string in a rainproof area and let them desiccate by the sunshine then dried them in earthenware ovens.
Today the fresh peppers are dried artifically in ovens.
The dried pods were crushed by foot then ground into a fine powder using a mortar and a pestle.
Water mills and later steam-powered mills replaced the manual kulu towards the end of he 19th century.
During the first decades of paprika production the pungency of the powder couldn't be controlled.
The pepper's veins and seeds that contain the capsaicin responsible for its pungency were manually removed from the dried, crushed pods prior to grinding.
Not only the process was lenghty, but some capsaicin always remained in the pods which made it impossible to predict the hotness of the powder.
In the mid 1800ies the Palfy brothers from Szeged invented an efficient way to remove the veins and seeds thus enabling mass-market production of the sweet Hungarian paprika that has always had a larger market than the hot types.
Ferenc Horváth and Jenő Obermayer form Kalocsa developed the first non-pungent pepper variety in the world through cross-breeding.
This pepper type is sweet and there's no need to remove the veins and seeds.
Today automatic machines do everything from sorting, washing, grinding to packaging.
Many farmers make paprika powder at home to this day, especially in the villages in the Great Plain.
Types of Hungarian paprika
In the shops you can find 8 brands of Hungarian paprika varying in colour and pungency:
1. Special quality (Különleges) - this is the mildest of all paprikas and has the most vibrant red colour
2. Delicate (csípősmentes csemege)-mild paprika with rich flavour,
3. Excuisite delicate (csemege paprika) –slightly more pungent than the Delicate,
4. Pungent Excuisite delicate (csípős csemege), even more pungent
5. Noble sweet (édesnemes) – the most common type, slightly pungent with bright red colour,
6. Half-sweet (félédes) – a medium-pungent paprika
7. Rose (rózsa) – light red colour, mildly pungent
8. Hot (erős) – the hottest of all paprikas, light brown-orange colour
So as you can see, the most common Hungarian, is sweet.