What is Black pepper?
Black pepper is the fruit of the black pepper plant from the Piperaceae family and is used as both, a spice and medicine. The chemical piperine, 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 a seasonal plant and is, therefore, available throughout the year. When dried, this plant-derived spice is referred to as a peppercorn. Because of its antibacterial properties, pepper is used to preserve food. Black pepper is also a very good anti-inflammatory agent.
A pinch of black pepper added to any recipe works as more than just a flavor enhancer. This king of spices is known to offer a number of health benefits while providing an excellent depth of flavor to a dish. The use of black pepper in the diet helps promote weight loss, improve digestion, relieve cold and cough, boost metabolism, and treat skin problems.
Black pepper is a great source of magnesium, vitamin K, iron, and fiber. It contains piperine which, when used in aromatherapy, helps ease aching muscles, digestive issues, and even inflammatory arthritis. Black pepper has antibacterial, antioxidant, immune-boosting, and fever-reducing properties.
History Of Black Pepper
Known to be discovered more than 4,000 years back along the Malabar Coast of south India, now Kerala, peppercorns are deemed to be the oldest used spices. But, they came into cultivation around 1000 BC. The spice was known in Greece in early 4th century BCE, but since it was rarely known and highly expensive, only the rich could afford it.
Though it was grown in southern Thailand and Malaysia too, India was the most important source of black pepper. The Romans, too, were aware of black pepper and opened ocean crossing of the Arabian Sea, after the conquest of Egypt, to reach India’s Malabar Coast.
But with the discovery of the new World and Chile peppers, popularity of black pepper declined. After the Middle Ages, black pepper was exported to Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa from India. With the Portuguese influence, black pepper was cultivated in Java, Sunda, Sumatra, Madagascar, Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia. However, these areas traded mostly with China or used the spice locally. With the Indian black pepper gaining more popularity, the Portuguese managed to find a sea route to reach India. Vietnam, India and Indonesia are the major producers of black pepper today.
Pepper is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia, and has been known to Indian cooking since at least 2000 BCE. J. Innes Miller notes that while pepper was grown in southern Thailand and in Malaysia, its most important source was India, particularly the Malabar Coast, in what is now the state of Kerala. The lost ancient port city of Muziris in Kerala, famous for exporting black pepper and various other spices, gets mentioned in a number of classical historical sources. Peppercorns were a much-prized trade good, often referred to as “black gold” and used as a form of commodity money. The legacy of this trade remains in some Western legal systems that recognize the term “peppercorn rent” as a token payment for something that is, essentially, being given.
The ancient history of black pepper is often interlinked with (and confused with) that of long pepper, the dried fruit of closely related Piper longum. The Romans knew of both and often referred to either as just piper. In fact, the popularity of long pepper did not entirely decline until the discovery of the New World and of chili peppers. Chili peppers—some of which, when dried, are similar in shape and taste to long pepper—were easier to grow in a variety of locations more convenient to Europe.
Before the 16th century, pepper was being grown in Java, Sunda, Sumatra, Madagascar, Malaysia, and everywhere in Southeast Asia. These areas traded mainly with China, or used the pepper locally. Ports in the Malabar area also served as a stop-off point for much of the trade in other spices from farther east in the Indian Ocean. Following the British hegemony in India, virtually all of the black pepper found in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa was traded from Malabar region.
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Black peppercorns were found stuffed in the nostrils of Ramesses II, placed there as part of the mummification rituals shortly after his death in 1213 BCE. Little else is known about the use of pepper in ancient Egypt and how it reached the Nile from South Asia.
Pepper (both long and black) was known in Greece at least as early as the fourth century BCE, though it was probably an uncommon and expensive item that only the very rich could afford.
A Roman-era trade route from India to Italy
By the time of the early Roman Empire, especially after Rome’s conquest of Egypt in 30 BCE, open-ocean crossing of the Arabian Sea direct to southern India’s Malabar Coast was near routine. Details of this trading across the Indian Ocean have been passed down in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. According to the Roman geographer Strabo, the early empire sent a fleet of around 120 ships on an annual one-year trip to China, Southeast Asia, India, and back. The fleet timed its travel across the Arabian Sea to take advantage of the predictable monsoon winds. Returning from India, the ships travelled up the Red Sea, from where the cargo was carried overland or via the Nile-Red Sea canal to the Nile River, barged to Alexandria, and shipped from there to Italy and Rome. The rough geographical outlines of this same trade route would dominate the pepper trade into Europe for a millennium and a half to come.
With ships sailing directly to the Malabar coast, black pepper was now travelling a shorter trade route than long pepper, and the prices reflected it. Pliny the Elder’s Natural History tells us the prices in Rome around 77 CE: “Long pepper … is 15 denarii per pound, while that of white pepper is seven, and of black, four.” Pliny also complains, “There is no year in which India does not drain the Roman Empire of 50 million sesterces,” and further moralizes on pepper:
It is quite surprising that the use of pepper has come so much into fashion, seeing that in other substances which we use, it is sometimes their sweetness, and sometimes their appearance that has attracted our notice; whereas, pepper has nothing in it that can plead as a recommendation to either fruit or berry, its only desirable quality being a certain pungency; and yet it is for this that we import it all the way from India! Who was the first to make trial of it as an article of food? and who, I wonder, was the man that was not content to prepare himself by hunger only for the satisfying of a greedy appetite? (N.H. 12.14)
Black pepper was a well-known and widespread, if expensive, seasoning in the Roman Empire. Apicius’ De re coquinaria, a third-century cookbook probably based at least partly on one from the first century CE, includes pepper in a majority of its recipes. Edward Gibbon wrote, in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, that pepper was “a favorite ingredient of the most expensive Roman cookery”.
Pepper was so valuable that it was often used as collateral or even currency. In the Dutch language, “pepper expensive” (peperduur) is an expression for something very expensive. The taste for pepper (or the appreciation of its monetary value) was passed on to those who would see Rome fall. Alaric the Visigoth included 3,000 pounds of pepper as part of the ransom he demanded from Rome when he besieged the city in fifth century. After the fall of Rome, others took over the middle legs of the spice trade, first the Persians and then the Arabs; Innes Miller cites the account of Cosmas Indicopleustes, who travelled east to India, as proof that “pepper was still being exported from India in the sixth century”. By the end of the Early Middle Ages, the central portions of the spice trade were firmly under Islamic control. Once into the Mediterranean, the trade was largely monopolized by Italian powers, especially Venice and Genoa. The rise of these city-states was funded in large part by the spice trade.
A riddle authored by Saint Aldhelm, a seventh-century Bishop of Sherborne, sheds some light on black pepper’s role in England at that time:
I am black on the outside, clad in a wrinkled cover,
Yet within I bear a burning marrow.
I season delicacies, the banquets of kings, and the luxuries of the table,
Both the sauces and the tenderized meats of the kitchen.
But you will find in me no quality of any worth,
Unless your bowels have been rattled by my gleaming marrow.
During the Middle Ages, pepper was commonly believed to be used to conceal the taste of partially rotten meat. No evidence supports this claim, and historians view it as highly unlikely; in the Middle Ages, pepper was a luxury item, affordable only to the wealthy, who certainly had unspoiled meat available, as well. In addition, people of the time certainly knew that eating spoiled food would make them sick. Similarly, the belief that pepper was widely used as a preservative is questionable; it is true that piperine, the compound that gives pepper its spiciness, has some antimicrobial properties, but at the concentrations present when pepper is used as a spice, the effect is small. Salt is a much more effective preservative, and salt-cured meats were common fare, especially in winter. However, pepper and other spices certainly played a role in improving the taste of long-preserved meats.
A depiction of Calicut, India published in 1572 during Portugal’s control of the pepper trade
Its exorbitant price during the Middle Ages—and the monopoly on the trade held by Italy—was one of the inducements that led the Portuguese to seek a sea route to India. In 1498, Vasco da Gama became the first person to reach India by sailing around Africa (see Age of Discovery); asked by Arabs in Calicut (who spoke Spanish and Italian) why they had come, his representative replied, “we seek Christians and spices”. Though this first trip to India by way of the southern tip of Africa was only a modest success, the Portuguese quickly returned in greater numbers and eventually gained much greater control of trade on the Arabian Sea. The 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas with the Spanish granted Portugal exclusive rights to the half of the world where black pepper originated.
Unsurprisingly, the Portuguese proved unable to monopolize the spice trade. Older Arab and Venetian trade networks successfully imported enormous quantities of spices, and pepper once again flowed through Alexandria and Italy, as well as around Africa. In the 17th century, the Portuguese lost almost all of their valuable Indian Ocean trade to the Dutch and the English, who, taking advantage from the Spanish ruling over Portugal during Iberian Union (1580–1640), occupied by force almost all Portuguese dominations in the area. The pepper ports of Malabar began to trade increasingly with the Dutch in the period 1661–1663.
Pepper harvested for the European trader, from a manuscript Livre des merveilles de Marco Polo (The book of the marvels of Marco Polo)
As pepper supplies into Europe increased, the price of pepper declined (though the total value of the import trade generally did not). Pepper, which in the early Middle Ages had been an item exclusively for the rich, started to become more of an everyday seasoning among those of more average means. Today, pepper accounts for one-fifth of the world’s spice trade.
It is possible that black pepper was known in China in the second century BCE, if poetic reports regarding an explorer named Tang Meng are correct. Sent by Emperor Wu to what is now south-west China, Tang Meng is said to have come across something called jujiang or “sauce-betel”. He was told it came from the markets of Shu, an area in what is now the Sichuan province. The traditional view among historians is that “sauce-betel” is a sauce made from betel leaves, but arguments have been made that it actually refers to pepper, either long or black.
In the third century CE, black pepper made its first definite appearance in Chinese texts, as hujiao or “foreign pepper”. It does not appear to have been widely known at the time, failing to appear in a fourth-century work describing a wide variety of spices from beyond China’s southern border, including long pepper. By the 12th century, however, black pepper had become a popular ingredient in the cuisine of the wealthy and powerful, sometimes taking the place of China’s native Sichuan pepper (the tongue-numbing dried fruit of an unrelated plant).
Marco Polo testifies to pepper’s popularity in 13th-century China, when he relates what he is told of its consumption in the city of Kinsay (Hangzhou): “… Messer Marco heard it stated by one of the Great Kaan’s officers of customs that the quantity of pepper introduced daily for consumption into the city of Kinsay amounted to 43 loads, each load being equal to 223 lbs. Marco Polo is not considered a very reliable source regarding China, and these second-hand data may be even more suspect, but if this estimated 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg) a day for one city is anywhere near the truth, China’s pepper imports may have dwarfed Europe’s.
During the course of the treasure voyages in the early 15th century, Admiral Zheng He and his expeditionary fleets returned with such a large amount of black pepper that the once-costly luxury became a common commodity.
Types of Black Pepper
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 dry in the sun or by machine for several days, during which the pepper skin around the seed shrinks and darkens into a thin, wrinkled black layer. Once dry, 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 in certain beauty and herbal treatments.
White pepper grains
White pepper consists solely of the seed of the pepper plant, 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 and decomposes. 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 used in Chinese and Thai cuisine, but also in salads, cream sauces, light-coloured sauces, and mashed potatoes (where black pepper would visibly stand out). White pepper has a different flavour from black pepper; it lacks certain compounds present in the outer layer of the drupe.
Black, green, pink (Schinus terebinthifolius), and white peppercorns
Green 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 brine or 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
Pink pepper and other plants used as pepper
“Pink peppercorns” are the fruits of a plant from a different family, the Peruvian pepper tree, Schinus molle, or its relative the Brazilian pepper tree, Schinus terebinthifolius. As they are members of the cashew family, they may cause allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, for persons with a tree nut allergy.
The bark of Drimys winteri (“canelo” or “winter’s bark”) is used as a substitute for pepper in cold and temperate regions of Chile and Argentina, where it is easily available. In New Zealand, the seeds of kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum), a relative of black pepper, are sometimes used as pepper, and the leaves of Pseudowintera colorata (mountain horopito) are another replacement for pepper. Several plants in the United States are used also as pepper substitutes, such as Lepidium campestre, Lepidium virginicum, shepherd’s purse, horseradish, and field pennycress.
Black pepper Nutrition
Black pepper is a rich source of minerals like manganese, copper, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, and vitamins like riboflavin, vitamin C, K, and B6. Black pepper has a high content of dietary fiber and has a moderate amount of protein and carbohydrates too.
Total Weight: 102 g
|Calories From Carbohydrate||210|
|Calories From Fat||28|
|Calories From Protein||19|
|Total Carbohydrates||65 g|
|Dietary Fiber||26 g|
|Fats & Fatty Acids|
|Total Fat||3.3 g|
|Saturated Fat||1.4 g|
|Monounsaturated Fat||757 mg|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||1 g|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids||156 mg|
|Omega-6 Fatty Acids||711 mg|
|Vitamin A||560 IU|
|Vitamin E||1.1 mg|
|Vitamin K||168 mcg|
|Vitamin B6||298 mcg|
Amount Per 100 grams
- Calories 251
- Fat 3.3 g – 5% RDA
- Cholesterol 0 mg
- Sodium 20 mg
- Potassium 1,329 mg – 37% RDA
- Carbohydrate 64 g – 21% RDA
- Dietary fiber 25 g – 100% RDA
- Sugar 0.6 g
- Protein 10 g – 20% RDA
- Vitamin A 10% RDA
- Calcium 44% RDA
- Iron 53% RDA
- Vitamin B-6 15% RDA
- Magnesium 42% RDA
Source of Manganese
Using black pepper in your cooking helps you consume more manganese. A teaspoon of black peppercorns contains 370 micrograms of manganese, which is 21 percent of the daily intake for women recommended by the Institute of Medicine, and 16 percent for men. Black pepper’s manganese content activates enzymes your cells need to metabolize nutrients, including proteins and fats. Getting enough manganese in your diet also supports healthy bone development, and manganese helps you make collagen required for wound healing.
Health Benefits of Black pepper
1. Improves Digestive Health
Black pepper stimulates the digestive juices and enzymes, thereby promoting digestion. Research has shown that black pepper has a positive effect on pancreatic enzymes too, benefiting the overall digestive process.
Black pepper also has carminative properties and helps relieve stomach gas. It can also relieve flatulence and colicky pain.
2. Reduces Cancer Risk
Studies have shown that the piperine in black pepper exerts protective activity against numerous forms of cancer. Piperine also increases the absorption of other nutrients like selenium, curcumin, beta-carotene, and B vitamins in your intestines – nutrients that are vital for gut health and cancer prevention.
3. Aids in weight loss
Black pepper has low calories and has fat cell formation inhibation properties. Studies have found that piperine in black pepper, the very compound that makes you sneeze, also fights the formation of fat cells. This can push you a little further towards your weight loss goals. Research says that black pepper might offer an alternative to treatments for fat-related issues
4. Relieves Cold And Cough
Black pepper stimulates circulation and the mucous flow.The pepper can also ease asthmatic symptoms. Black pepper has been used for this purpose even in the ancient Chinese medicine. The pepper is known to stimulate circulation and the mucous flow. And when you combine it with honey, the effect is enhanced – as honey works as a natural cough suppressant.
Simply mix a teaspoon of powdered black pepper with 2 tablespoons of honey in a cup. Fill the cup with boiling water, cover it and let it steep for about 15 minutes. You can strain the drink and sip it. Do it thrice a day to clear congestion and sinuses.
The pepper can also ease asthmatic symptoms. One study conducted on asthmatic patients in a specialty care facility in Trinidad found that administering pepper to the patients had improved their condition. Black pepper clears the respiratory tract and eases other respiratory ailments like whooping cough as well.
5. Fights Infections
Black pepper has antibacterial properties. As per one South African study, piperine in black pepper exhibits larvicidal effects (targeted towards dangerous insects in their larval stage of life) and help prevent infection and spread of disease.
6. Brain Health
The piperine in the pepper inhibits one enzyme that breaks down serotonin, the calming neurotransmitter. This enzyme also degrades the functioning of another hormone called melatonin – which regulates the sleep/wake cycle.
Piperine also has its importance in Parkinson’s disease. It inhibits another type of enzyme that disrupts the production of dopamine, the feel-good hormone. Dopamine is usually deficient in patients with Parkinson’s, and ingesting black pepper can ease the symptoms. Similar effects can be observed in the case of depression too.
Black pepper can also delay brain aging and prevent Alzheimer’s. It can also enhance the nerve activity in the brain, thereby curing seizures. It also protects the nerve cells and prevents early cell death. Moreover, it also had shown beneficial effects in stroke patients.
7. Oral Health
Pepper also has anti-inflammatory properties that help treat gum inflammation. Pepper also contains peperine which has antibacterial properties which help relieve toothache and other oral infections. Certain massaging mixtures contain black pepper as one of the main ingredients. These massages relieve toothache and other oral infections, given piperine’s antibacterial properties.
Pepper also has anti-inflammatory properties that help treat gum inflammation. What else, you can even mix pepper with salt for relief from dental issues. Simply mix equal amounts of salt and pepper in water and rub the mixture on your gums. For toothache, you can mix black pepper with clove oil and apply to the affected area. However, there is limited research on this. Consult your doctor before use.
8. Helps Treat Diabetes
Black pepper has antioxidants that help stabilize blood sugar levels. They regulate hyperglycemia, thereby aiding in diabetes treatment.
In a 2013 a study was done that showed that black pepper oil can inhibit the two enzymes that break down starch into glucose and make diabetic symptoms worse.
9. Skin Care
Black pepper has antioxidants that fight free radicals that cause signs of premature aging – including wrinkles, fine lines, and even dark spots.
Black pepper can be used as a scrub to exfoliate the skin and remove dead skin cells. This makes the skin smoother.
10. Improves fertility in men
Pepper plays an important role in improving male fertility. It is known to increase testosterone levels as it is rich in zinc and magnesium – two minerals critical for male sex hormones. It also increases sperm count and its concentration. The zinc in pepper also helps in the development and movement of sperms.
11. Lowers Blood Pressure
It’s piperine, again. Reports have shown that piperine can lower blood pressure in animals, and similar effects can be expected in human beings. One Slovakian study states that oral administration of piperine can control the increase in blood pressure. Ingestion of piperine also proved to be effective in controlling blood pressure in yet another study. Interestingly, piperine also enhances the bioavailability of curcumin, another important compound found in turmeric.
12. Antioxidant Benefits
Black pepper has superb antioxidant effects, which contribute to your health in numerous ways. Antioxidants fight the disease-causing free radicals and boost immunity. In another Indian study, rats with induced oxidative stress, when administered with black pepper, showed considerable improvement in their condition.
Another test conducted by the National Institute of Nutrition in India found that black pepper had the highest concentration of antioxidants in all of the foods they had analyzed. The pepper also had the highest phenolic content. This high antioxidant content enables pepper to offer various health benefits, some of which include the prevention of serious ailments like cancer.
On top of all this, the piperine in black pepper increases the bioavailability of nutrients in numerous foods and supplements. And this means – it can transform a marginally effective therapeutic substance into a highly effective one – simply by enhancing its intracellular residency time. Also, it is important to note that the more intense the flavor of black pepper, the higher the piperine content.
13. Improves Fertility In Men
Pepper plays an important role in improving male fertility. It is known to increase testosterone levels as it is rich in zinc and magnesium – two minerals critical for male sex hormones. It also increases sperm count and its concentration. The zinc in pepper also helps in the development and movement of sperms.
14. Helps Quit Smoking
Studies have shown that inhaling the vapor from black pepper can reduce smoking withdrawal symptoms. Cigarette cravings were also significantly reduced in test subjects who inhaled black pepper vapor.
15. Helps Treat Diabetes
The beneficial antioxidants in black pepper might help stabilize blood sugar levels. They regulate hyperglycemia, thereby aiding in diabetes treatment. And a 2013 study has proved that black pepper oil can inhibit the two enzymes that break down starch into glucose and make diabetic symptoms worse. But ingesting black pepper can delay glucose absorption. Piperine can also be used as a bio-enhancing agent alongside metformin (a diabetes medication) – it helps reduce the dose of metformin and even its side effects, all the while helping ease the symptoms of the disease.
16. Fights Wrinkles
The antioxidants in black pepper fight free radicals that cause signs of aging and harm your skin in more than one way. Black pepper fights the signs of premature aging – including wrinkles, fine lines, and even dark spots. You can simply add black pepper to your daily diet to see its skin-enhancing effects. Or just combine a teaspoon of black pepper with equal amounts of honey or turmeric. Add water for a smoother consistency. Apply the mask to your face twice a day.
17. Exfoliates The Skin
Black pepper can be used as a scrub to exfoliate the skin and remove dead skin cells. This makes your skin smoother. Crush some black pepper and make a scrub to remove dead skin cells and exfoliate your skin. Just take 1/2 teaspoon of powdered black pepper and 1 teaspoon of yogurt. Apply to your face and wash after 20 minutes.
This face pack will help remove toxins from your skin, leaving it soft and radiant. Black pepper also helps promote blood circulation and provides more oxygen and nutrients to your skin. Its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties help prevent acne.
18. Cures Vitiligo
Vitiligo is a condition that causes the skin to lose its pigmentation in certain areas. When your skin loses its natural pigmentation, it turns white. There are many different treatments for this skin disease, but a majority of them involve the use of harsh chemicals. Many patients are now turning to black pepper as a cure. According to researchers from London, piperine found in black pepper provides a safe and natural alternative to chemical-based treatments.
19. Helps Treat Dandruff
If you are suffering from dandruff problems, black pepper is the best treatment. Add a teaspoon of crushed pepper to a bowl of curd and apply it to your scalp, leaving it on for about 30 minutes. Wash off with water. Do not use shampoo. If you want, you can shampoo the next day as this will give the mixture ample time to work on dandruff. Remember not to overdo the pepper as an excess of this ingredient will make your scalp burn, causing extreme discomfort.
20. Revitalizes Hair
Mix a teaspoon each of lemon and ground black pepper seeds and apply to your scalp and hair. This will revitalize your hair, making it shiny, lustrous, and soft. Leave the mixture on for 10 to 15 minutes and rinse off with cold water. You can also mix a teaspoon of powdered black pepper with equal amounts of honey and apply to your hair. This will strengthen the hair roots and can even help prevent baldness. That’s the list of benefits of black pepper. But one must also know how to select the pepper and store it.
How to Select Black Pepper
- Black pepper is available in ground, coarsely ground, cracked and whole peppercorn forms.
- Whole peppercorns are the best choice as they keep their freshness, flavor and essential oils intact for longer durations.
- As for ground pepper, it tends to lose its texture with time and takes on a bitter taste.
- Another alternative to obtain the full flavor is to buy freshly ground black pepper.
- While purchasing whole peppercorns, they should weigh heavy, be compact and free from any kind of blemishes.
Black Pepper Storage Tips
- Whole peppercorns can be stored at room temperature in a sealed container in a cool, dry place for up to one year. However, some sources reveal that whole peppercorns can keep well for up to three years, when stored properly.
- Since ground pepper starts losing its flavor, it is recommended to use it within four months, or as soon as possible to enjoy its flavor to the maximum.
- You can store ground pepper and whole peppercorns in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month, under good conditions.
- Brined peppercorns should be refrigerated once opened and consumed within a month, before they start decaying.
- Water-packed peppercorns have the shortest shelf life after opening. Thus, place them in the refrigerator once opened and use them within one week.
Tips For Preparing Black Pepper
- Increase the quantity. This can help enhance the taste of your dish and would be beneficial to your health too. First, add a regular amount of salt and pepper – and then go on a little more with the pepper.
- Since you are adding a little more amount of black pepper to your dish, you might trigger a coughing fit if the black pepper is finely ground. Hence, go for the coarse variety.
- You can also use peppercorns as a coating for your food. This will make your dish crunchier.
Quick Serving Ideas Of Black Pepper
- Coat steaks with crushed peppercorns before cooking to create the classic dish, steak au poivre.
- As the pungent taste of black pepper is a natural complement to the deep, berry-like flavor of venison, use it to flavor this meat when preparing venison steaks or venison stews.
- Keep a pepper mill on your dining table so that you can add its intense spark to a host of different recipes that you prepare.
- Olive oil, lemon juice, salt and cracked pepper make a delicious salad dressing.
How to Grow Black Pepper
Black Pepper Recipes
1. Black Pepper Tea
- 2 cups of filtered water
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of freshly chopped ginger
- First, bring the water to a boil.
- Add all the ingredients.
- Turn off the heat and allow it to steep for about 5 minutes.
- Strain into a mug and drink while hot.
2. Black Pepper Sauce
- 60 grams of chopped butter
- 1/4 cup of red wine
- 2 cups of Massel beef stock
- 2 finely chopped eschalots
- 2 teaspoons of cracked black pepper
- Over a medium frying pan placed over medium heat, melt half the butter until it foams.
- Add the eschalots.
- Keep stirring and cook for about 5 minutes until the eschalots have softened.
- Add the red wine and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium.
- Cook the sauce for about 2 to 3 minutes or until it is almost evaporated.
- Add the stock and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Stirring occasionally, simmer for about 10 minutes. The stock must be reduced to half and slightly thickened.
- Whisk in the remaining butter until it melts and the sauce has slightly thickened.
- You can serve the sauce with steak.
- Black pepper doesn’t just have a spicy side alone. There is a bit of fun too.
Facts About Black Pepper
- Indian monks ate several peppercorns a day during their travels to enhance endurance.
- Pepper was mostly consumed by the wealthy as it was very expensive.
- The Romans used to demand pepper as ransom when they besieged a city.
- During the Middle Ages, peppercorns were worth more than gold in weight.
- Vietnam is the largest producer and exporter of pepper in the world.
- There are thousands of different varieties of pepper, of which 30 are known.
Negative Effects Of Black Pepper
Creates Burning Sensation In Stomach:
Well, we all know that black pepper is ‘hot’. Common sense tells us that we should limit the use of black pepper in our dishes. But, sometimes common sense takes a back seat! In such a case, the overuse of black pepper can lead to severe burning in the stomach. Don’t worry, the burning will pass, it’s just temporary. Just be careful next time!
Can Cause Death:
Now, this is one of those rarest of rare cases. But if pepper is consumed directly, it can get into the lungs and cause death, especially in children. So it is advised to eat black pepper by mixing it with your food.
Creates Burning Sensation In Eyes:
Remember black pepper is hot! So avoid applying black pepper directly on your skin.or else accidentally if it gets into your eyes, it may cause burning and redness, both on your skin and eyes.
Contraindication With Certain Drugs:
Patients taking cyclosporine A, cholinergic, digoxin, and cytochrome P450 should avoid consuming black pepper.
Black pepper may upset the stomach or cause gastrointestinal problems. So, patients suffering from gastrointestinal disorders should avoid taking black pepper.
May Lead To Respiratory Problems:
One must not inhale black pepper as it may lead to respiratory problems like respiratory irritation, asthma, etc.
May Cause Irritation:
In some rare cases, the intake of black pepper can lead to skin irritation with symptoms like itching, swelling, and redness in skin.
Difficulties During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding:
If you are pregnant, your body is already sensitive to spices. So try and stay off black pepper. If you are craving the flavor, add some to your favorite dish, but in minimal quantities. The hot flavor and taste of black pepper can be transferred into breast milk. So, unless you want to give your infant a crash course in Indian spices, stay away from black pepper if you are breastfeeding.
Increases Skin Dryness:
Black pepper should not be consumed in large quantities as it can dry the skin. If you have dry skin, too much black pepper is certainly a no-no
Avoid During Summers:
Summers are hot, don’t add to it! Black pepper can increase the body heat and can even lead to bleeding noses. So, say no to black peppers during the hot summer months.
If you weigh in the pros and cons of consuming black pepper, the pros will win hands down! The only way black pepper can harm you is if you consume too much of it,which is an unlikely scenario. So, enjoy your favorite spice in moderation!