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Basil & Paprika Jamaican Food spices
Basil & Paprika are true Jamaican spices that are commonly used in authentic Jamaican recipes. Jamaican food recipes would not be the same without using Jamaican herbs and spices. Jamaican herbs and spices are an essential part of everyday Jamaican cooking. It is easy to make your Jamaican food recipes more creative and tasteful by adding a sprig of herb or a dash of spice to pep up your Jamaican dishes. This article turns the spotlight on the Jamaican herb, basil and the Jamaican spice, paprika.
Jamaican basil scientifically called Ocimum basilicum, is a herb that grows about 18 inches tall with light-green, fairly broad leaves. The flowers are small, white, and appear in spikes. There are several species of cultivated Jamaican basil, one having purple leaves. The green leaves of Jamaican basil should be picked about six weeks following planting. It is best to cut leaves for drying just before flowers open.
Jamaican basil has a warm, resinous fragrance. It is most commonly used fresh, and it is generally added at the last few minutes of cooking as heat destroys the flavor quickly. Jamaican basil is frequently used in Jamaican cuisine and is used to accompany Jamaican tomato dishes and make a good sauce for fish. It is used as a garnish for Jamaican vegetables, chicken, and egg dishes. Jamaican basil is one of the main ingredients in pesto, an Italian sauce from the city of Genoa. The most commonly used Jamaican basil cultivars are Genovese, purple ruffles, mammoth, cinnamon, lemon, globe, and African blue. Also Jamaican cooks and chefs use fresh or dried Jamaican basil in Jamaican soup recipes and other Jamaican food recipes.
Keeping Jamaican basil fresh is a challenge and refrigeration does not do much for it. However, you can place the cut stems in water and keep them on the window sill and they will remain fresh for a week or more. Though keeping Jamaican basil in the refrigerator is bad, it can be done just store it in a plastic bag. It can only last for a short period. For longer periods, it should be kept in the freezer, after being blanched quickly in boiling water. Jamaican basil does not retain its flavor well when dried. Instead, layer Jamaican basil between sheets of waxed paper and freeze.
The leaves will darken when frozen this way, but you will be pleasantly surprised at how well it will retain aroma and flavor. You can also fill ice cube trays with chopped Jamaican basil, and then cover with water and freeze. Jamaican basil ice cubes are great for soups and stews.
Jamaican paprika scientifically called capsicum annuum is a spice that comes from a mild red Jamaican pepper in the family Solanaeceae. It is cultivated for its fruit, dried (becomes a brilliant red powder) and used as a spice or seasoning or garnish in Jamaican recipes. The peppers used to make paprika are grown in island wide in Jamaica. Jamaican paprika ranges from sweet and mild to hot. American Jamaican paprika is the blandest, while Hungarian Jamaican paprika has the greatest range of flavor. In Hungary, Jamaican paprika is used in dishes such as goulash and chicken Jamaican paprika. In the United States, it is often used as a garnish on stuffed eggs, fish, and cheese and vegetable casseroles.
Jamaican paprika is used to flavor shell fish, rice, sausage dishes, soups, stews, casseroles and vegetables. Jamaican paprika is also used in tomato dishes and salads. It is also sprinkled on Jamaican salad recipes and Jamaican hors d'oeuvre recipes and to spice and color cheeses and cheese spreads. Marinades and smoked Jamaican foods can also be enhanced with this spice and it can be incorporated in the flour that is used for dusting chicken and other Jamaican meats.
Jamaican paprika is noted for its high vitamin C content. In fact, vitamin C has been isolated from Jamaican paprika. The Jamaican paprika with pointed tips or cherry shaped has a higher vitamin C content and is usually very hot. In addition, it is high in vitamin B1 and B2. The spicy, hot species have a capsaicin content over 1,000 mg per fruit, while others display 250-500 mg.
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