You know that little bottle of paprika sitting in your spice cabinet right now? You can grow that, right in your own garden!
Growing Paprika Peppers
First, you’ll need to grow some peppers.
You will want to buy actual paprika pepper seeds to grow for this – look for ones with the word “Paprika” in their name.
Paprika peppers have a mild sweet peppery flavor, making them perfect for gently spicing up your favorite dishes!
Paprika peppers are grown just like any other pepper:
- Start the seed indoors 8-10 weeks before your estimated final frost date. Cover seed with 1/4 inch of soil and keep evenly moist and warm until germination. A heat mat may be required, as peppers germinate best at about 75-85 F. Seeds should germinate in 7-20 days.
- Plant outside after all risk of frost has passed, in full sun. Amend soil if needed. Space plants 18 to 24 inches apart. Peppers also do well when planted in containers.
- 70-80 days from transplant is when you should start seeing peppers- peppers will ripen at different rates and may produce more, all the way up until first frost, if continually harvested.
Making Paprika Spice
Make sure you let the peppers fully ripen before using; you want completely red peppers!
What you’ll need:
- Paprika peppers
- A pair of food-safe gloves
- Sharp knife
- Coffee grinder
- Fine-mesh sieve
How to make:
Wearing gloves to protect your hands, slice up your peppers. Discard the green tops, and scrape out both the seeds and any white ribs on the inside of the peppers. I sliced my peppers into slim slivers, so they would dry faster.
Lay your pepper slices in a single layer on your dehydrator trays, and leave it to run! As for temperature settings, think low – going 130° F or above can make your paprika taste a little off.
For the batch shown, I ran our dehydrator at 105-125°F for two days, unplugging it at night, until the pepper slices were completely dried. (We use a hand-me-down Nesco Dehydrator.)
Depending on the thickness of the walls of your paprika peppers (some are thinner than others), it may take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours to dry the peppers.
After your paprika peppers are completely dry, transfer them in batches to a coffee grinder, and use it to turn them into a powder.
Sift the paprika as you powder it, keeping everything fine enough to make it through the sieve, and running the coarser bits back through until you’ve got a heap of fine powder. You’ve made paprika!
At this point, we like to spread the paprika powder out onto a sheet of parchment paper, cut and sized to fit a dehydrator tray, and then dry it for another 3 to 4 hours, to make sure all of the moisture has been removed before storing.
Transfer your homemade paprika to a container with a tight-fitting lid, and store out of direct sunlight to avoid fading.
Since this is a homemade spice, we don’t have anti-clumping additives to stir in, which means your paprika isn’t going to go out of a shaker top without a fight. That’s just the nature of homemade spice!
Slipping a silica packet into the bottle with your paprika to absorb any moisture may help prolong its shelf life. As for how long that is – your spice is good so long as it still has a good color and taste, and isn’t visibly molding or has a bad smell. You should expect at least a 6 to 9 month shelf life, or longer.
Use your homemade paprika just as you would store-bought in your recipes- it will be just as delicious, and often twice as satisfying, just knowing that you grew one of the spices for the recipe in your own garden!
Homemade Paprika Powder
- Sharp knife
- Food-safe gloves
- Coffee grinder
- Fine mesh sieve
- paprika peppers (we used homegrown Alma Paprika Peppers)
- Wearing gloves, slice the peppers into thin slivers, discarding the green tops & the seeds.
- Arrange in a single layer over dehydrator trays.
- Dehydrate between 105 to 125 degrees F until completely dry. This may take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, depending on your pepper type and size.
- Use a small electric coffee grinder to grind the dried peppers into a powder.
- Sift the resulting powder and return the larger pieces to the coffee grinder as needed.
- Continue grinding and sifting until you have a fine paprika powder.
- Optionally, you can return the paprika powder to the dehydrator (spreading it thinly on a piece of parchment paper), and dehydrate for another 3 to 4 hours to ensure complete dryness.
- Store in an airtight container out of direct sunlight and heat.
- Shelf life should be at least 6 to 9 months, or as long as it smells and looks fresh.