Black pepper is produced from the still-green unripe drupes of the pepper plant. The drupes are cooked briefly in hot water, both to clean them and to prepare them for drying. The heat ruptures cell walls in the pepper, speeding the work of browning enzymes during drying. The drupes are dried in the sun or by machine for several days, during which the pepper around the seed shrinks and darkens into a thin, wrinkled black layer. Once dried, the spice is called black peppercorn. On some estates, the berries are separated from the stem by hand and then sun-dried without the boiling process.
Once the peppercorns are dried, pepper spirit and oil can be extracted from the berries by crushing them. Pepper spirit is used in many medicinal and beauty products. Pepper oil is also used as an ayurvedic massage oil and used in certain beauty and herbal treatments.
White pepper consists of the seed of the pepper plant alone, with the darker-coloured skin of the pepper fruit removed. This is usually accomplished by a process known as retting, where fully ripe red pepper berries are soaked in water for about a week, during which the flesh of the pepper softens anddecomposes. Rubbing then removes what remains of the fruit, and the naked seed is dried. Sometimes alternative processes are used for removing the outer pepper from the seed, including removing the outer layer through mechanical, chemical or biological methods.
Ground white pepper is often used in cream sauces, Chinese and Thai cuisine, and dishes like salad, light-coloured sauces and mashed potatoes, where black pepper would visibly stand out. White pepper has a slightly different flavour than black pepper, due to the lack of certain compounds present in the outer fruit layer of the drupe, but not found in the seed. A slightly sweet version of white pepper from India is sometimes called Safed Golmirch (Hindi), Shada golmorich (Bengali), or Safed Golmirch
reen pepper, like black, is made from the unripe drupes. Dried green peppercorns are treated in a way that retains the green colour, such as treatment with sulphur dioxide, canning or freeze-drying. Pickled peppercorns, also green, are unripe drupes preserved in brineor vinegar. Fresh, unpreserved green pepper drupes, largely unknown in the West, are used in some Asian cuisines, particularly Thai cuisine. Their flavour has been described as spicy and fresh, with a bright aroma. They decay quickly if not dried or preserved.
Wild pepper grows in the Western Ghats region of India. Into the 19th century, the forests contained expansive wild pepper vines, as recorded by the Scottish physician Francis Buchanan (also a botanist and geographer) in his book A journey from Madras through the countries of Mysore, Canara and Malabar (Volume III). However, deforestation resulted in wild pepper growing in more limited forest patches from Goa to Kerala, with the wild source gradually decreasing as the quality and yield of the cultivated variety improved. No successful grafting of commercial pepper on wild pepper has been achieved to date
Orange pepper and red pepper
Orange pepper or red pepper usually consists of ripe red pepper drupes preserved in brine and vinegar. Ripe red peppercorns can also be dried using the same colour-preserving techniques used to produce green pepper
Region of origin
Peppercorns are often categorized by their place of origin. Two types come from India’s Malabar Coast: Malabar and Tellicherry. Tellicherry comes from grafted Malabar plants grown on Mount Tellicherry.
Sarawak pepper is native to the Malaysian portion of Borneo. White Muntok pepper comes from Indonesia and Lampung hails its island of Sumatra. Vietnam produces both white and black pepper in the provinces of Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu, Chu Se District, Bình Phước, and Phú Quốc Island in Kiên Giang Province.
Kampot Pepper is native to Kampot, Cambodia. Kampot (pepper) has received GI (Geographical Indication) in 2008. The pepper grown and designated as Kampot Pepper is grown in a limited geographical region. There are four varieties grown – black, green, red, and white.
The pepper plant is a perennial woody vine growing up to 4 metres (13 ft) in height on supporting trees, poles, or trellises. It is a spreading vine, rooting readily where trailing stems touch the ground. The leavesare alternate, entire, 5 to 10 cm long and 3 to 6 cm across. The flowers are small, produced on pendulous spikes 4 to 8 cm long at the leaf nodes, the spikes lengthening up to 7 to 15 cm as the fruit matures.The fruit of the black pepper is called a drupe and when dried it is a peppercorn.
Pepper can be grown in soil that is neither too dry nor susceptible to flooding, moist, well-drained and rich in organic matter (the vines do not do too well over an altitude of 900 m (3,000 ft) above sea level). The plants are propagated by cuttings about 40 to 50 centimetres long, tied up to neighbouring trees or climbing frames at distances of about two meters apart; trees with rough bark are favoured over those with smooth bark, as the pepper plants climb rough bark more readily. Competing plants are cleared away, leaving only sufficient trees to provide shade and permit free ventilation. The roots are covered in leafmulch and manure, and the shoots are trimmed twice a year. On dry soils the young plants require watering every other day during the dry season for the first three years. The plants bear fruit from the fourth or fifth year, and typically continue to bear fruit for seven years. The cuttings are usually cultivars, selected both for yield and quality of fruit.
A single stem will bear 20 to 30 fruiting spikes. The harvest begins as soon as one or two fruits at the base of the spikes begin to turn red, and before the fruit is fully mature, and still hard; if allowed to ripen completely, the fruit lose pungency, and ultimately fall off and are lost. The spikes are collected and spread out to dry in the sun, then the peppercorns are stripped off the spikes.
Black pepper is either native to South East Asia or Southern Asia. Within the genus Piper, it is most closely related to other Asian species such as Piper caninum.
Phytochemicals, folk medicine and research
Like many eastern spices, pepper was historically both a seasoning and a folk medicine. Long pepper, being stronger, was often the preferred medication, but both were used. Black pepper (or perhaps long pepper) was believed to cure illness such as constipation,diarrhoea, earache, gangrene, heart disease, hernia, hoarseness, indigestion, insect bites, insomnia, joint pain, liver problems, lungdisease, oral abscesses, sunburn, tooth decay, and toothaches. Various sources from the 5th century onward also recommend pepper to treat eye problems, often by applying salves or poultices made with pepper directly to the eye. There is no current medical evidence that any of these treatments has any benefit; pepper applied directly to the eye would be quite uncomfortable and possibly damaging.Nevertheless, black pepper, either powdered or its decoction, is widely used in traditional Indian medicine and as a home remedy for relief from sore throat, throat congestion, cough, etc.
Pepper is known to cause sneezing. Some sources say that piperine, a substance present in black pepper, irritates the nostrils, causing the sneezing. Few, if any, controlled studies have been carried out to answer the question.
Piperine is under study for its potential to increase absorption of selenium, vitamin B, beta-carotene and curcumin as well as other nutrients. As a folk medicine, pepper appears in the Buddhist Samaññaphala Sutta, chapter five, as one of the few medicines allowed to be carried by a monk.
Pepper contains phytochemicals, including amides, piperidines, pyrrolidines and trace amounts of safrole which may be carcinogenic in laboratory rodents.
Piperine is under study for a variety of possible physiological effects, although this work is preliminary and mechanisms of activity for piperine in the human body remain unknown.
One tablespoon (6 grams) of ground black pepper contains moderate amounts of vitamin K (13% of the daily value or DV), iron (10% DV) and manganese (18% DV), with trace amounts of other essential nutrients, protein and dietary fibre
Pepper gets its spicy heat mostly from piperine derived both from the outer fruit and the seed. Black pepper contains between 4.6% and 9.7% piperine by mass, and white pepper slightly more than that. Refined piperine, by weight, is about one percent as hot as the capsaicin found in chili peppers. The outer fruit layer, left on black pepper, also contains important odour-contributing terpenes including pinene, sabinene,limonene, caryophyllene, and linalool, which give citrusy, woody, and floral notes. These scents are mostly missing in white pepper, which is stripped of the fruit layer. White pepper can gain some different odours (including musty notes) from its longer fermentation stage. The aroma of pepper is attributed to rotundone (3,4,5,6,7,8-Hexahydro-3α,8α-dimethyl-5α-(1-methylethenyl)azulene-1(2H)-one), a sesquiterpene originally discovered in the tubers of cyperus rotundus, which can be detected in concentrations of 0.4 nanograms/L in water and in wine: rotundone is also present in marjoram, oregano, rosemary, basil, thyme, and geranium, as well as in some Shiraz wines
Pepper loses flavour and aroma through evaporation, so airtight storage helps preserve its spiciness longer. Pepper can also lose flavour when exposed to light, which can transform piperine into nearly tasteless isochavicine. Once ground, pepper’s aromatics can evaporate quickly; most culinary sources recommend grinding whole peppercorns immediately before use for this reason. Handheld pepper mills or grinders, which mechanically grind or crush whole peppercorns, are used for this, sometimes instead of pepper shakers that dispense pre-ground pepper
Peppercorns (dried black pepper) are, by monetary value, the most widely traded spice in the world, accounting for 20 percent of all spice imports in 2002. The price of pepper can be volatile, and this figure fluctuates a great deal year to year; for example, pepper made up 39 percent of all spice imports in 1998. By weight, slightly more chili peppers are traded worldwide than peppercorns.
The International Pepper Exchange is located in Kochi, India. Participation in the IPE however is domestic with regulatory restrictions on international membership on local exchanges; something common to almost all Asian commodity exchanges.
As of 2008, Vietnam is the world’s largest producer and exporter of pepper, producing 34% of the world’s Piper nigrum. Other major producers include India (19%), Brazil (13%), Indonesia (9%), Malaysia (8%), Sri Lanka (6%), China (6%), and Thailand (4%). Global pepper production peaked in 2003 with over 355,000 t (391,000 short tons), but has fallen to just over 271,000 t (299,000 short tons) by 2008 due to a series of issues including poor crop management, disease and weather. Vietnam dominates the export market, using almost none of its production domestically; however its 2007 crop fell by nearly 10% from the previous year to about 90,000 t (99,000 short tons). Similar crop yields occurred in 2007 across the other pepper producing nations as well. Nowadays, in England, industrial buyers mix Peppers of different origin to maintain a balance between price, taste and other factors. Malabar black peppers are used for weight and taste, Sumatra for colour, and Penang for strength.
The health benefits of black pepper include relief from respiratory disorders, coughs, the common cold, constipation, indigestion, anemia, impotency, muscular strains, dental disease, pyorrhea, diarrhea, and heart disease. Black pepper is the fruit of the black pepper plant from the Piperaceae family and is used as both a spice and a medicine. The chemical piperine, which is present in black pepper, causes the spiciness. It is native to Kerala, the southern state of India. Since ancient times, black pepper is one of the most widely traded spices in the world. It is not considered a seasonal plant and is therefore available throughout the year. When dried, this plant-derived spice is referred to as a peppercorn, and is then ground into a powder to be put on food to add flavor and spice. Because of its antibacterial properties, pepper is also used to preserve food. It is a rich source of manganese, iron, potassium, vitamin-C, vitamin K, and dietary fiber. Black pepper is also a very good anti-inflammatory agent. Health Benefits of Black Pepper The health benefits of black pepper include the following: Good for the Stomach Pepper increases the hydrochloric acid secretion in the stomach, thereby facilitating digestion. Proper digestion is essential to avoid diarrhea, constipation and colic. Pepper also helps to prevent the formation of intestinal gas, and when added to a person’s diet, it can promote sweating and urination, which remove toxins from the body. Sweating removes toxins and cleans out the pores of any foreign bodies that may have lodged there, and it can also remove excess water or accumulation, also known as edema. In terms of urination, you can remove uric acid, urea, excess water, and fat, since 4% of urine is made of fat. For digestion, inducing digestion can help you lose weight and increase the overall functioning of your body and prevent various gastrointestinal conditions and colorectal cancer. Its ability to expel gas is because black pepper is a carminative, which forces gas out of the body in a healthy, downward motion, rather than pressing upwards in a dangerous way and straining the upper chest cavity and vital organs. It also inhibits more gas from forming in the body. Weight Loss The outer layer of peppercorn assists in the breakdown of fat cells. Therefore, peppery foods are a good way to help you shed weight naturally. When fat cells are broken down into their component parts, they are easily processed by the body and applied to other, more healthy processes and enzymatic reactions, rather than simply sitting on your body and making you look overweight. Skin Health Pepper helps to cure Vitiligo, which is a skin disease that causes some areas of skin to lose its normal pigmentation and turn white. According to researchers in London, the piperine content of pepper can stimulate the skin to produce pigment. Topical treatment of piperine combined with ultra violet light therapy is much better than the other harsher, more chemically-based treatments for vitiligo. It also reduces the chances of skin cancer due to excessive ultraviolet radiation. Respiratory Relief In Ayurvedic practices, pepper is added to tonics for colds and coughs. Pepper also provides relief from sinusitis and nasal congestion. It has an expectorant property that helps to break up the mucus and phlegm depositions in the respiratory tract, and its natural irritant quality helps you to expel these loosened material through the act of sneezing or coughing, which eliminates the material from the body and helps you to heal from whatever infection or illness caused the deposition in the first place. Antibacterial Quality The antibacterial property of black pepper helps to fight against infections and insect bites. Pepper added to the diet helps to keep your arteries clean by acting in a similar way to fiber and scraping excess cholesterol from the walls, thereby helping to reduce atherosclerosis, the condition highly responsible for heart attacks and strokes. An antioxidant like pepper can prevent or repair the damage caused by the free radicals and thus help to prevent cancer, cardiovascular diseases and liver problems. Free radicals are the byproducts of cellular metabolism that attack healthy cells and cause their DNA to mutate into cancerous cells. Antioxidants like black pepper neutralize these harmful compounds and protect your system from many conditions, even premature aging symptoms like wrinkles, age spots, macular degeneration, and memory loss. Enhances Bioavailability Black pepper helps in transporting the benefits of other herbs to different parts of body, maximizing the efficiency of the other health foods that we consume. That is why adding it to foods not only makes them taste delicious, but also helps make those nutrients more available and accessible to our system. Cognitive Impairment and Neurological Health Piperine, one of the key components of black pepper, has been shown in numerous studies to reduce memory impairment and cognitive malfunction. Chemical pathways in the brain appear to be stimulated by this organic compound, so early research demonstrates the possibility for pepper to benefit Alzheimer’s patients and those that are suffering from dementia and other age-related or free radical-related malfunctions in cognition. Peptic Ulcers A number of studies have shown that black pepper may have beneficial effects on gastric mucosal damage and peptic ulcers, due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. More research is still being done on this aspect of black pepper health effects. Asthma and Whooping Cough Pepper is a good treatment for respiratory conditions like due to its properties as an expectorant, as well as its strong anti-inflammatory properties. Other Benefits? According to Ayurvedic medicine, black pepper also helps to prevent ear-aches and gangrene. It is also good for conditions of hernia, hoarseness and insect bites. It is also commonly used to treat conditions of tooth decay and toothache. In ancient times, pepper was also administered to treat vision problems. Preparing grounded pepper powder at home is better than buying ready-made pepper powder. However, even home-made powder retains its freshness for only 3 months, while whole peppercorns can keep their freshness indefinitely. Thus, adding a pinch of black pepper to every meal helps to improve both taste and digestion. It also improves your overall health and well being.