What is the average shelf life of paprika? How long does paprika last in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer? What is the best way to store paprika to increase its shelf life? Find out the answers to these questions and more below:
Shelf Life of Paprika
Paprika is a powdered spice that is produced by grinding pods of different types of capsicum. It enhances the color and flavor of any dish and is considered to be one of the most-consumed spices in the world. Since it is a dried spice, its shelf life is quite long. If you purchase ground paprika, its shelf life is 2 to 3 years, and the same is true for dried paprika. However, whole paprika lasts for 4 to 5 years.
Paprika usually does not spoil. It’s completely fine to use it in various dishes. The only difference is its taste; it becomes milder and less intense as compared to recently-purchased paprika. The shelf life of paprika depends on the best-by date of the particular packet, as well as the method by which the spice is stored. If stored and treated properly, it can even be used beyond its best-by date. As it is dehydrated properly before selling, protecting it from exposure to moisture can extend the shelf life of paprika.
If you are planning to purchase paprika, then you should know that it comes in different varieties. Distinct types may differ in their taste, color, and aroma. You can choose a type according to your dish requirements. The basic difference lies in their spiciness, and you can also buy Hungarian or Spanish paprika. Essentially, the following types of paprika are available for purchase:
- Regular paprika, which has a mild flavor and a shade of either red or yellow.
- Sweet paprika, which has a pleasant, sweet taste with a very low amount of bitterness.
- Hot paprika, which offers the greatest heat, but is still bearable to consume.
- Paprika that comes in bittersweet, sweet, and hot flavors.
- Smoked paprika, which also includes three other flavors.
After you have selected your desired flavor, you should check the best-by date and, if possible, smell the spice, as its smell also says a lot about its quality.
The packaging of paprika is usually properly sealed, and the spice is suitably dehydrated. These conditions are required to maintain or improve the shelf life of paprika, as bacteria only grows with moisture. Leaving an untightened lid on your paprika may expose it to moisture, and within no time, you will start seeing different things growing on it. Once you observe this, immediately stop using the spice.
Another condition required to store paprika is a cool place. You can’t store it near heat, so keep it away from your stove. Being next to a stove allows any boiling liquid to make a path towards your spice. Thus, store your paprika in cool and dry places; putting it in your refrigerator is a good idea. One more thing needs your consideration, and that is the area in which you live. If you live in a humid area, your spices are more exposed to bacteria, so extra care is required to be taken in this case. If you have stored your spice properly, you can use it beyond its best-by date.
How to Handle Paprika
As paprika comes in a dried form and stored at a normal temperature, you don’t need to wash it before using. It comes sealed and properly cleaned in its package. At least, this is the case for ground paprika. If you are using whole paprika and plan to grind it on your own, then you need to be careful regarding your grinding machine cleanliness. If you are interested in drying and grinding peppers at your home, then you may need a hot and shady area nearby to do so. Direct sunlight may fade the color of your paprika.
You can add paprika to a variety of food items. It adds additional flavor and aroma to your dishes. Also, it contains a high amount of vitamin C, so paprika can be used for improving both the taste of food and your health. You can add paprika to a wide variety of food items, such as eggs, fish, meat, lasagna, soups, salads, steamed veggies, and many other raw and cooked dishes. Paprika is usually added at the end of the cooking procedure. The reason behind this is that excessive heat not only destroys the taste and aroma of paprika, but also, paprika burns fast. It cannot be used in its completely-raw form, either, as it provides 100% of its flavor and aroma after getting slightly heated with little moisture, such as oil or butter.