Paprika is colloquially a vegetable or a spice. It is distantly related to the tomato, potato, and aubergine. They are available in a wide variety of colors and shapes. When people talk about paprika in Germany and Austria, they usually mean the mild, bell-shaped sweet pepper. In Switzerland, the Italian name Peperoni is used for them. Tomato peppers, chili, or the small pepperoncini, which are often found on spicy pizzas, are much hotter.
There is also paprika as a dry powder that you need for seasoning. A special variety is used for this, namely the spice paprika. When ripe, it is cleaned, gutted, and de-stemmed. After that, it has to be dried and ground into a fine powder. For 100 grams of paprika powder, you need about one kilogram of fresh paprika.
Peppers grow on bushes. You only eat the fruit of the plant. These are called pods. Many peppers are not very nutritious, but they are rich in vitamin C. This makes them very healthy for the body and does not make you fat.
Peppers originated in Central and South America. The discoverers brought them to Europe at the beginning of modern times. There it was initially used primarily in southern European cuisine. More than 100 years ago, Italian guest workers brought the peppers to Switzerland. They found their way into German and Austrian cuisine via Hungary.
In biology, the term “pepper” means the whole plant, not just the fruit. There are 33 species of peppers that together form a genus. It belongs to the nightshade family. Only five species are planted in horticulture. Many different strains have been bred from them, each with its own name.