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Mar 3, 2013 08:57 AM

Where's the Hungarian Paprika?

I shopped yesterday for Hungarian Paprika (in the familiar red can, in the fine print I see that it appears to be "Pride of Szeged" (from memory, so spelling may be off)). No stores in my neighborhood (PG county) stocked it -- Wegmans, SFW, Giant, Safeway, Yes Organic.

Has anyone else had this experience? Is there an obvious explanation? Are we at war with Hungary and nobody's told us?

And does it matter? should I just use the cheapest Paprika I can find as a substitute, or is the available but much more expensive "organic" really better?

Finally (if it is permanently gone from the DC area, and if it really does matter) is there an online source for the "normal" Hungarian paprika, or something better? (Not smoked Spanish paprika.)

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  1. Penzey's has Hungarian paprika. Online orders over $30 have free shipping.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Hobbert

      Or you can go to their store in Rockville.

    2. Otto's:

      I haven't bought from this source yet, but I'm thinking of it. I've heard that the major brand of Hungarian paprika is being cut with Brazilian peppers. I don't know to what extent that was true, or if it is still true, but it's reason enough for me to try something else.

      1. Rodman's

        It is about profit and price to the chains. Hungarian is more expensive and the profit margin lower. There is a lot of quality standards lowering in DC over the past few years. Too many Washingtonians worry more about price than value.

        There is a complicated story here regarding how Hungary becomes part of the EU, with a relaxation of protectionism, and EU regulation of food processing within Hungary that led to the Hungarian prices being undercut by cheap S. American stuff, then contamination with aflatoxin (meet your “organic” toxin) and a host of other factors. There is no “domestic” pepper as Spanish peppers and Hungarian are now both “EU” and Spanish and Brazilian peppers are more naturally red than Hungarian varieties. Furthermore, a lot of world paprika was being cut with S. American and sold as Hungarian to boost profits at the expense of Hungarian producers.

        So dried Spanish peppers are not imports to Hungary officially, and the Spanish don’t have to tell that they are importing, rather than growing them. And, there is disempowerment of national authorities in monitoring paprika safety.

        Bottom line: they are using imported peppers, the processes are still the best, and what you buy as generic paprika is generally of lower quality than Hungarian which, comes in about 8 grades, all of higher quality.

        3 Replies
        1. re: law_doc89

          there are eight grades of hungarian paprika?
          how does one know which grade a product is? is it labeled?
          what are the criteria for grading?

            1. re: law_doc89

              thanks, that's a nice site. i just pinned a couple of good looking recipes -- baked ricotta and rum raisin ice cream. (oh how i get distracted!).

              i wish i had known all these paprika nuances before i went to hungary! our host was kind enough to send me back to america with a couple of tubes of gulyás paste. VERY handy.

              i see i can order it online. (yay, algore's internet).

        2. Mediterranean Bakery in Alexandria stocks Szeged brand (they have a big selection). 352 S Pickett St, Alexandria, VA 22304. You can peruse the awesome selection imported ingredients and food stuffs while your there and get some awesome shwarma to go from the take out counter (they also make middle eastern pastry that's pretty tasty as the name suggests)

          1. Found this at Harris Teeter on Rt. 50 in Loudoun Co. $4.59 for a 5 oz. can. They have both hot and sweet.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Hobbert

              I saw several varieties, of that brand, at the Harris Teeter in Maple Lawn, Md (south of Columbia). I like that brand at least for the sweet paprika (only variety I have tried), better than Penzey's, although I only notice in Goulash.