Spanish paprika or pimenton is one of those ingredients that can be found in every Spanish kitchen. Paprika is used in dozens of Spanish recipes and also by butcheries (carnicerias) as paprika is a vital ingredient in the most famous of Spanish sausages - the chorizo. It is paprika that gives the chorizo as well as salsas and other dishes their deep red colour and of course flavour.
Paprika is made from dried chili peppers which are ground into a fine powder, the strength and flavour of the end product depends on the type of pepper used with hot peppers being used for picante paprika and sweet peppers being used for the dulce or mild/sweet version. You can also find a smoked variety, again in hot and sweet versions as well as an agri-dulce strength which typically has a spicy flavour in between the two. Smoked paprika is made by hanging the peppers in large drying sheds where they are smoked dried for two to three weeks using oak.
Some paprikas, especially the smoked variety even carry the denomancion de Origen stamp (D.O) which guarantees the products quality, the most famous region is La Vera so if your paprika tin has this stamp on it you can rest assured that you have some of the finest paprika money can buy.
Smoked Spanish paprika is a spice that compliments many dishes, its smell quite potent and used sparingly (you never need very much) adds a lovely depth to cream based dishes, casseroles and even soups. Paprika of all varieties is commonly used as a garnish due to its deep red colour and is popular for sprinkling over mayonnaise, soups and even salads.
With a long shelf life of well over a year your paprika will happily sit in a cool dry place, typically sold in 75g tins this is more than enough to last in the family kitchen for a good few months.