Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated May 22, 2020)
Technically speaking, capsicums (or Genus Capscicum), or as they are more commonly known chili peppers, does not belong in the same specific category as other kinds of herbs and spices. The reason for this is rather simple, capsicums in general do not have any aromatic oils like the other spices and herbs do. Rather this family of peppers rely on something completely different for their effect and flavor. What they rely on is more a chemical reaction that stings and irritates the skin in the mouth and nose. These peppers range in potency from slightly sweet, to being so hot that some can only be handled while wearing gloves. Technically the hottest part of the of the chili isn't the skin, but rather the seed that is inside of it.
There are some benefits from using a hot pepper in your cooking. The largest one is that it will stimulate the flow of saliva in the mouth, as well as getting the gastric juices flowing which will help aid in digestion. Another benefit is that if you are in a hot area, try eating a hot pepper. The pepper will make you sweat a little, which will help you to cool off in the long run. There is a draw back to using capsicums though, the do not work well on their own, which is why you will find other ingredients included in chili powders such as red pepper, oregano, garlic, and so on.
One of the more commonly used types of capsicum is paprika. Paprika (also known as Capsicum annum) is actually the ground, dried, and stemless pod of a mild capsicum. Paprika was first found growing in Central America, but currently the world's most delicious paprika is grown in Hungary. The kind that most people use in the United States is grown in Spain, and actually tastes quite harsh when compared to the Hungarian strain.
Another interesting fact about paprika is that it contains something called bioflavonoids, which is also found in citrus and other fruits. This substance has been found to be beneficial to the capillary system. Interestingly enough, paprika actually contains an astounding amount of vitamin C, possibly even more than an orange.
When using paprika in cooking, care needs to be taken. The reason for this is that paprika has a powerful enough taste that as little as half a teaspoon can affect the entire taste of a dish. That being said, if you are looking to use paprika to decorate something, then don't worry. When sprinkled on a dish, such as deviled eggs, its flavor will not overpower, but rather help to enhance what you are eating.
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