In these mid Summer days, towards the end of July, you can already detect some red paprika in the fields. As the fruit is still growing, you can already see the changes in paprika’s skin color. The maturation time cannot be linked to a specific time or date, because of the way of cultivation, the sort of fruit and amount of farmer care can all be different.
Basically it is best that paprika starts ripening as soon as possible, so that it has the time to collect and accumulate the essential compounds in larger amounts. The color of the paprika is given by the pigment in the skin. At the beginning of the ripening there is a larger proportion of yellow dyes (carotene) but as the maturation progresses the proportion of red dyes increases (capsorubin, capanthin). So, as time passes, the color of the paprika deepens and darkens.
Paprika is known to be a sensitive and demanding plant. The plant is vulnerable to many sicknesses and young plants can also easily be damaged by occasional heavy showers in spring. Controlling healthy growing therefore requires a great deal of farmer care. However, the maturation process unfortunately is mostly influenced by factors beyond their control. Despite all the pesticides, technical advantages and hard physical work in the field, they are still dependent on the weather.
Looking at the 2019 season so far we’ve faced a very cold May with lots of rain and after that we had some strong heat waves in June. Although paprika originally comes from a tropical environment and loves the heat, it does not particularly like these heat waves. The plant is also sensitive to nowadays ever-warming climate. As the summer season used to lay the foundation for the famous paprika production in Szeged some 200 years ago, this is no longer the case. Unfortunately, the cold rains and the heat waves will result in some loss of this seasons’ harvest, which has already been confirmed by some of our farmers. At this point in time, however, we cannot yet give a precise estimation how big the loss will be this year.
It is worth noting the general statement that the summer is merely responsible for the quantity of the harvest, it is the autumn that is responsible for its quality. After maturing to sizeable fruits, there is the post-harvesting, where all the harvested paprika’s are being exposed to some long weeks of autumn sunshine. These sundried ripe paprika’s will than be the basis for a first class spice for making a first-class meal.
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