What is Peppercorn? How many kinds of peppercorn?


What is Peppercorn? Peppercorn is one of the most popular spices in the world. Not only Black Pepper, there are many other varieties such as: green pepper, white pepper,….

History of Peppercorn

Peppercorn is one of the founding ingredients of the Western spice trade. Marco Polo reports the locations in which people sold and grew it, frequently and in great detail. But before this Venetian, we have a record of an extensive pepper trade centuries before he ever put pen to paper (or, more accurately, put pen to vellum). Modern excavations put pepper’s origin in Kerala, India.

These excavations also show early trade routes popping up between Kerala and countries in the Middle East by at least 1000 BC. In this area of the world, peppercorn was widely used, and was even included in mummification ceremonies, including that of Ramses II, widely considered the Pharaoh of the Exodus. (Of course, most of the spices Egyptians came across ended up stuffed inside mummies.).

By 100 BC, peppercorn had traveled east into China, where the wealthy preferred it over their native Sichuan pepper.

History of Peppercorn

Ancient Rome also highly valued piper nigrum, even using it as currency. However, they were also one of the first to use the spice extensively in cooking. Their writers include pepper in nearly every recipe, from adding a pinch in their desserts to adding an entire 2 tablespoons to flavor just four eggs.

The elite used over-peppered dishes as a common display of wealth. But pepper’s heyday in Rome was not to last.

The long pepper, a genetic cousin of piper nigrum (and also from India), overtook peppercorn’s market value, becoming both the more valuable as well as the pepper of choice–though this would change yet again in 641 AD.

What is Black peppercorn?

Black pepper is produced from the still-green, unripe drupe of the pepper plant. People cooked the drupes 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, people call it as black peppercorn. On some estates, people separated the berries from the stem by hand and then sun-dried without boiling.

After the peppercorns are dried, pepper spirit and oil can be extracted from the berries by crushing them. People use pepper spirit in many medicinal and beauty products. Pepper oil is also used as an ayurvedic massage oil and in certain beauty and herbal treatments.

Many types of Peppercorn

What is White peppercorn?

White pepper consists solely of the seed of the ripe fruit of the pepper plant, with the thin darker-coloured skin (flesh) of the fruit removed. This is usually accomplished by a process known as retting, where people soaked fully ripe red pepper berries in water for about a week; rubbing then removes what remains of the fruit, and drying. Sometimes people removed the outer layer from the seed through other mechanical, chemical, or biological methods.

Ground white pepper is commonly used in Chinese, Thai, and Portuguese cuisines. It finds occasional use in other cuisines in salads, light-coloured sauces, and mashed potatoes as a substitute for black pepper, because black pepper would visibly stand out. However, white pepper lacks certain compounds present in the outer layer of the drupe, resulting in a different overall flavour.

What is Green peppercorn?

Green pepper, like black pepper, is made from unripe drupes. Dried green peppercorns are treated in a way that retains the green colour, such as with sulfur dioxide, canning, or freeze-drying. Pickled peppercorns, also green, are unripe drupes preserved in brine or vinegar.

Fresh, unpreserved green pepper drupes are used in some cuisines like Thai cuisine and Tamil cuisine. Their flavour has been described as “spicy and fresh”, with a “bright aroma.” They decay quickly if not dried or preserved, making them unsuitable for international shipping.

What is Red peppercorns?

Red peppercorns usually consists of ripe peppercorn drupes preserved in brine and vinegar. Ripe red peppercorns can also be dried using the same colour-preserving techniques used to produce green pepper.

How to Plants Peppercorn?

Pepper tree

The pepper plant is a perennial woody vine growing up to 4 m (13 ft) in height on supporting trees, poles, or trellises. It is a spreading vine, rooting readily where trailing stems touch the ground.

Pepper can be grown in soil that is neither too dry nor susceptible to flooding, moist, well-drained, and rich in organic matter.

People grow the plants by cuttings about 40 to 50 cm (16 to 20 in) long, tied up to neighbouring trees or climbing frames at distances of about 2 m (6 ft 7 in) apart. Competing plants are cleared away, leaving only sufficient trees to provide shade and permit free ventilation.

The roots are covered in leaf mulch 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 then typically for seven years.

A single stem bears 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 fruits 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.[9]

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