Country of Origin:
Black Pepper, Blanc Poivre, Hu Jiao, Kali Mirchi, Kosho, Krishna, Marich, Maricha,
Pepe, Pepper, Pepper Extract, Pepper Plant, Peppercorn, Pfeffer, Pimenta, Pimienta,
Piper, Piper nigrum, Piperine, Poivre, Poivre Noir, Vellaja, White Pepper.
Black Pepper plants are actually climbing vines which can grow 10 m (32.8 feet) or more
in humid tropical climates. Once their main stem is established, they grow lots of side
shoots and will create a bushy column. Although black pepper is cultivated in many
tropical regions, it is native to the area around Kerala in India where it still occurs
wild in the mountains. Leaves are arranged alternately on the stems. They are shaped
like almonds, dark green, shiny and taper towards the tip.
The mature plant (3-4 years old or older) will bear small white clustered flowers which
develop into berries known as peppercorns. Ground peppercorns produce the spice we call
pepper. Black pepper, green pepper and white peppercorns are actually the same fruit
(Piper nigrum); the difference in their color is a reflection of varying stages of
development and processing methods. The spiciness of black pepper is due to the chemical
What are Peppercorns?
Black peppercorns are picked as unripe or green pepper fruit from the
pepper vine, which is native to southern India and Southeast Asia. These
fruits are actually about half ripe when picked and just about to turn
red. They are then left to dry, which results in the wrinkly shriveled,
black peppercorn fruit. Black peppercorns can be used whole or ground.
They infuse flavor and intensity to dishes, sauces and rubs.
Black pepper is one of the most widely used and oldest known spices. In
ancient times it was used as a trade commodity and was very expensive. The
pepper berries grow in clusters (50 to 60) per spike. The pepper berries
are first green in color. Then through the various stages of development
and processing black peppercorns and white peppercorns are derived.
How to use Peppercorns:
Black pepper is the most pungent and flavorful of all types of peppers.
It is available as whole or cracked peppercorns or ground into powder.
Like most spices, black pepper tastes best when freshly ground. A quality
peppermill allows you to control the size of the grind from fine to coarse.
For cracked and very coarsely ground pepper, it's good to have a mortar and
pestle on hand. And for grinding large quantities, an electric spice grinder
or coffee mill can be a real time saver.
Using peppercorns in sauces creates a beautiful speckled appearance with the
combination of sweet and spicy flavors. For sauces, simmer ten to twelve
peppercorns for every two to four pounds of meat (chicken, shrimp, pot roast,
beef, etc). For a less powerful flavor in a thinner liquid, use four to six
Ground black pepper adds flavor to soups, stews, chowders, salads and dressings,
vegetables, seafood, casseroles and BBQ sauces. You can also grind peppercorns
for crusts, rubs and dressings for meats or sprinkle ground peppercorns into sauces.
Dried Unripe Fruits - usually known as peppercorns.
Compounds Contained in This Herb:
Piperine, chavicine, piperidine and piperettine.
Store them away from heat and light (like any spice). Peppercorns should be
kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place. Whole
peppercorns will keep almost indefinitely. Peppercorns begin to lose potency
as soon as they are ground, so the flavor begins to weaken after a couple of
months. It is therefore best to store the peppercorns as whole dried fruits
and only grind them as needed.
Peppery herbs are contraindicated in cases of gastrointestinal ulcers and
inflammatory disorders of the kidneys. Peppery herbs are also contraindicated,
when given in large amounts, for children less than 4 years of age.
People taking cholinergic agonists, cyclosporine A, digoxin, cytochrome P450
metabolized agents, herbs or drugs by mouth, phenytoin, propranolol, rifamipicin
(rifampin), or theophylline should use black pepper cautiously.