Freezing Ground Paprika Is A Flavor Crime

Paprika is a versatile ground spice made from dried peppers from the Capsicum annum family. Known for its vibrant, red color and smoky, earthy undertones, it is most popularly used to add a pop of color and heat to deviled eggs, potato salad, goulash, and chorizo; but it has been added to stews, rice, salads, and sauces around the world for centuries.

You can easily find regular paprika in the spice aisle at a grocery store, but it is better to buy it in a tin instead of a glass bottle because light can make it less potent. Prolonged exposure to light, heat, oxygen, and moisture diminishes spices' flavors, aromas, and colors, which is why Spice Advice says they must be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place. So, does this qualify the refrigerator or the freezer as a good storage place for paprika?

According to Healthline, ground paprika has a shelf life of 2-3 years (if stored correctly) and doesn't require refrigeration; but it does help to keep the color vibrant. However, Spice Jungle cautions that, unless spice containers are vacuum sealed, the refrigerator's humidity can change their flavors and even cause bacteria or mold to grow on them. But what about freezing paprika?

What happens to paprika when you freeze it?

The same principle applies to storing ground paprika in the freezer. In fact, the National Center for Home Food Preservation affirms that ground paprika loses its flavor when it is frozen; but how does this happen?

According to Pantry Tips, freezing causes the water inside paprika to expand and break its cell walls, which alters paprika's flavor and texture. Furthermore, the Club House for Chefs explains that when spices are repeatedly taken out of the freezer, condensation forms in the container; and this will make frozen ground paprika lose its flavor and aroma quickly, in addition to making it become moist and clumpy. Also, if the container is not sealed properly, the paprika may absorb moisture and odors from the other foods in the freezer, which will drastically change its taste and quality.

Overall, freezing ground paprika is not the optimal way to store it unless you want to kill any bugs and their eggs that might be in it. Pantry Tips adds that a couple of days in the freezer are enough to kill them, after which you can sift them out and use your paprika. 

Ultimately, storing paprika in an airtight container in a pantry, cupboard, or spice drawer is the best way to keep it fresh and flavorful.