Here we discuss the world’s most popular food seasoning; black pepper. What it is, where it comes from and how it is used.
Black pepper is a flowering vine produced for its fruit. It is grown in hot climates for 3-4 years when the buds start to develop. The berries are picked and then dried until dark and shrivelled, resulting in what we know as the peppercorn.
Black pepper is native to India and is widely produced there.
White, green and black pepper are all from the same plant, just picked at varying stages of development and processed differently.
Black pepper can be whole, crushed or ground.
Black pepper is best when whole peppercorns are ground fresh into a dish. It is recommended that this is done at the end of the cooking process to retain the full flavour of the peppercorns as the aroma and flavour can be lost if cooked for too long.
Whole peppercorns should be heavy, compact and free of blemishes.
Black pepper livens up and gives a kick to bland food. It was originally used to disguise food that wasn’t as fresh as it could be. It adds a flavour of its own as well as enhancing other ingredients. It stimulates appetite and gives food a gentle warmth.
Whole black pepper keeps for longer than the ground variety; however both should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container and stored in a cool, dark and dry place.
Black pepper is one of the main spices in the popular Indian spice mix; Garam Masala, which is used in approximately 70% of Indian cuisine. It can also be found on most dining tables around the world, alongside salt as a seasoning for food.
Traditionally, black pepper has been used in India and Pakistan to cure coughs and colds. It is also believed to cure constipation, heart disease, indigestion, joint pains and toothache.
Black pepper is an excellent source of manganese, iron, vitamin K and fibre.