Where does black pepper come from and how it is produced?
Black pepper is the most widely used ingredient in the world. It is also so-called “The King of Spices“. However, do you know where does black pepper come from and how it is produced? We – the pepper specialists from Chu Se Pepper will help you answer all of your questions.
What is black pepper?
Black pepper is also called Piper Nigrum in technical term. It is a flowering vine in the family of Piperaceae clinging to a straight pillar with their roots. Pepper plants grow best in hot and humid tropical climates.
The stems grow around the pillar and form a pepper tree with thick green pepper branches.
A pepper tree can grow up to 10 meters tall. Its flowers are slender, dense spikes with about 50 blossoms each. It starts to bear small white clustered flowers after 3 to 4 years and then develop into berries known as peppercorns
Pepper leaves are just like betel leaves, but longer and tapering.
There are about 20-30 fruits per cluster. Each fruit is about 5mm in diameter and just contains a single seed.
Different kinds of peppercorns and how they are produced
Before we get to know about where does black pepper come from, let’s discuss the varieties of pepper.
Black pepper, green pepper, and white peppercorns are actually the same fruits. They are different in color because of their varying stages of development and processing methods.
Green peppers have not fully established the corn. Therefore, if they are harvested and dried, they are easily broken. On the other hand, when mature fruits are dried, they contract and turn black. They have a sharp, pungent aroma and flavor. These fruits are called black peppers.
Green pepper is immature and is the first pepper growing on the plant.
Even though they are green, they are still picked for a specific use such as cooking ingredient for hot spot – a popular food in Vietnam in cold weather.
Red pepper is a ripe peppercorn. Therefore, when the peppercorns turn red, it is the time for harvesting.
Red pepper is riper than the yellow one. However, the fruits can be picked when they are either red or yellow.
After we pick the red and yellow peppercorns, we dry them under the sun. After few days, they will turn their colors into black.
How White Pepper is made
White pepper is made by drying ripe pepper and removing the skin. It has grey color, less rumpled and aromatic than black pepper because the pepper oil is lost from the crust. However, it is spicier because of its ripeness.
Even though white pepper has the “white” in their name, it actually has grey color. If the peppercorns you buy from supermarket have white color; the pepper manufacturers may use chemicals to change its colors.
Want to know more about different kinds of peppercorns? Click here
Where does black pepper come from?
The term “pepper” was actually misled by Europeans after Christopher Columbus brought the pepper trees from India. The spice was used commonly at that time, and the name “pepper” was applied to all of the spices which had pungent and spicy taste.
There are other related peppers which may confuse you:
- Capsicums are from Capsicum genus, and are also called bell peppers which have three different colors (Green, yellow, and Red). Actually, Capsicums are fruits but they are used as vegetables in cooking .
- Chili are also from Capsicums genus, but chili is different from bell peppers. Chili can produce lipophilic chemical, called capsaicin; which can lead to a strong burning sensation.
The black pepper plant is related to Piper Nigrum genus, and was originally from India;but tropical regions are the best place for growing pepper plants.
Currently, Vietnam is the largest black pepper producer and exporter, totaling around 35% of the world’s supply, followed by Indonesia, India, Brazil, China, and Sri Lanka.
Black pepper is the most traded spice in the world. In fact, it constitutes about 20% of the world’s total spice trade and is worth billions of dollars trade yearly.
So, there is no surprise that it is called ” The King Of Spices”.
As usual, we give you a bonus at the end …
Black pepper benefits
Pepper is not only common spice used for marinating, and cooking; but also effective remedy to cure some health problems.
Here are some health benefits of black pepper that you should know:
When you have toothache, you can use black pepper ground and apply to affected area. It will immediately reduce pain.
Besides adding flavor to your dish and improving digestion, black pepper acts as a stimulant for appetite.
Research has shown that black pepper improves appetite through olfactory stimulation. This makes it a great, simple remedy for those with a poor appetite.
Black pepper contains very strong plant nutrients; which can break down fat cells accumulated in the body.
If you usually eat black pepper, you can even feel it.
With high levels of vitamin C, black pepper helps treat cough, cold, sinusitis and stuffiness. In addition, black pepper is an anti-bacterial ingredient that helps with constipation and diarrhea.
Improve the digestive system
Black pepper is an ingredient that stimulates taste; helps the stomach to produce more hydrochloric acid for better food digestion.
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, Black pepper can be used for the treatment of arthritis.
In addition, this wonderful spice also contributes to improving blood circulation, preventing and reducing joint pain due to poor blood circulation.
Because of its antioxidant properties, black pepper has the potential to prevent cancer, especially breast and colon cancer.
I hope now you know where does black pepper come from. If you want to know more about the history of black pepper, click here.