names: Pepper; white pepper; green peppercorns
pepper (Piper nigrum), the king of spices, is one of the oldest and
the most popular spice in the world. It is a perennial, climbing vine
indigenous to the Malabar Coast of India. The hotly pungent spice
made from its berries is one of the earliest spices known and is probably
the most widely used spice in the world today. It was mentioned as
far back as 1000 BC in ancient Sanskrit literature. In early historic
times black pepper was widely cultivated in the tropics of Southeast
Asia, where it became an important article of overland trade between
India and Europe. It became a medium of exchange, and tributes were
levied in black pepper in ancient Greece and Rome. In the Middle Ages
the Venetian and the Genoese became the main distributors, their virtual
monopoly of the trade helping to instigate the search for an eastern
sea route. The name pepper comes from the Sanskrit word pippali meaning
from India, black pepper is widely cultivated throughout Indonesia,
Malaysia, Thailand, tropica Africa, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and
China also. It is a branching vine with a smooth, woody, articulate
stem swollen at the joints. A woody climber, it may reach heights
of 10m by means of its aerial roots. Its broad, shiny green, pointed
, petiolate leaves are alternately arranged. The sessile, white, small
flowers are borne in pendulous, dense, slender spikes of about 50
blossoms each. The berry-like fruits, or peppercorns, are round, about
0.5 - 1.0 cm in diameter and contain a single seed. They become yellowish
red at maturity and bear a single seed. The odour is penetrating and
aromatic; the taste is hot, biting and very pungent.
plant requires a long rainy season, fairly high temperatures, and
partial shade for the best growth. Propagation is usually by stem
cuttings. The cuttings are set out near a tree or a pole that will
serve as a support. Black pepper plants are sometimes interspersed
in tea or coffee plantations. They begin bearing in 2 to 5 years and
may produce for as long as 40 years. The berries are picked when they
begin to turn red. The collected berries are scalded with boiling
water for about 10 minutes, which causes them to turn dark brown or
black in an hour. Then they are spread out to dry in the sun for three
or four days. The whole peppercorns, when ground, yield black pepper.
pepper is obtained by removing the outer part of the pericarp of the
ripened berries. The outer coating is softened either by keeping the
berries in moist heaps fir 2 or 3 days or by keeping them in sacks
submerged in running water for 7 to 15 days, depending on the region.
The softened outer coating is then removed by washing and rubbing
or by trampling, and the berries are spread in the sun to dry. Whole
white pepper can also be prepared by grinding off the outer coating
mechanically. The flavour is less pungent than that of black pepper.
Green pepper are immature berries freeze dried or mechanically air
dried. They are available pickled in brine or vinegar.
and white pepper have two main components, the volatile oil and the
pungent components, commonly known as piperine. Black pepper contains
about 0.6 - 2.6 % essential oil that has the aromatic flavour of black
pepper but not the pungency. The level varies depending on the source,
maturity and variety. Of the 100 different components in the essential
oil, the main ones are a-pinene, b-pinene, 1-a-phellandrene, b-caryophyllene,
limonene and sabine-delta-3-carene. The main pungency principle is
piperine,the trans, trans form of 1-piperoylpiperidine. Other minor
pungent alkaloids are piperidine, piperettine, piperyline, piperanine
and piperolein A and B.
pepper is used in almost all applications where spice is used, with
exception of baked goods. It is used universally in sauces, gravies,
processed meats, poultry, snack foods etc. Both black and white pepper
are used in cuisine worldwide, at all stages of the cooking process
and as a table condiment. White pepper has a distinguishably different
flavour but is utilized to a lesser extent.
is used in processed meats and in applications where dark specking
is not desired. Black pepper is added to fruit cakes and gingerbread
and is also used as a light seasoning on fresh fruit. Black pepper
oleoresin is also used for similar purposes.
and other use
pepper has long been recognized as a stimulant to appetite as well
as an aid in the relief of nausea. In India it is being used since
time immemorial as a medicine for a number of health problems.