Along with salt, pepper is one of the oldest and best-known spices. These black peppercorns were grown until full maturity and then smoked for a subtle, yet smoky flavor. Great in rubs or seasoning blends, smoked black peppercorns also make for a good finishing pepper. Grind fresh on top of grilled meats, vegetables, salsas, etc.
Peppercorns are the fruit of Piper nigrum, an evergreen climbing vine. Black, white, and green peppercorns all come from the same plant, but they are harvested at different times and handled in different ways. To make black pepper, the clusters are plucked shortly before they ripen and are left in piles to ferment. After a few days, the berries are spread out on a mat and left to dry in the sun for two or three more days where they shrivel and blacken. Black pepper has been cultivated for thousands of years on the Malabar coast of southwestern India, in the region defined by the modern state of Kerala. For much of the last two thousands years, black pepper was a luxury for the very rich, a commodity so valuable that it was even used as money. Nowadays black pepper is common around world and used in the cuisine of almost every nation.
Black pepper contains about 3% essential oil. The aroma is due to the 80% content of monoterpenes: sabinene, beta-pinene, limonene, furthermore terpinene, alpha-pinene, myrcene, delta-3-carene and monoterpene derivatives (borneol, carvone, carvacrol, 1,8-cineol, linalool). Sesquiterpenes make up about 20% of the essential oil: beta-caryophyllene, humulene, beta-bisabolone and caryophyllene ketone.
The dried whole berries, ground.
Traditionally added to food. Can be taken in capsule form.
The black pepper many of us use every day to season food has a wide variety of medicinal applications. Ground black pepper (although not peppercorns) can keep food fresh. In 1998, the Quarterly Review of Biology reported that ground black pepper killed about 25% of the bacteria that could cause spoilage of food. In combination with garlic, allspice, onion, or oregano, black pepper could kill almost all of the bacteria that cause food spoilage.
Avoid excessive use of black pepper (more than 1 teaspoon per day) if you take prescription digoxin (Lanoxin) or phenytoin (Dilantin). Too much pepper may slow the rate at which the liver clears these medications from the bloodstream.
For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.