Black pepper, everything you need to know about this very popular spice

Black pepper, everything you need to know about this very popular spice

Pepper is one of the oldest spices in the world, alongside chili and ginger. This spice is the only one to be found on most tables alongside salt. Pepper found in the market comes from berries of various species of the pepper plant, belonging to the Piperaceae family. The pepper plant is native to India, specifically from the state of Kerala, more precisely from the Malabar coast. In fact, Malabar pepper, from the Piper nigrum family (black pepper), is considered the ancestor of all peppers. The MG1 quality (Malabar Garbled 1) is rare and remains an exceptional pepper with an intense spicy flavor and woody and fruity notes. However, cultivation has spread to various parts of the world. Madagascar is one of the main producers of pepper in the global market. Pepper prefers a tropical and humid climate, so it is found in large quantities in Asia and Latin America.

What is black pepper?

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is a spice obtained from the berries of the pepper plant. It is a perennial, evergreen climbing plant with woody stems that is native to southwest India (the state of Kerala) and Sri Lanka. Tropical regions are favorable for the growth of the pepper plant. This is why black pepper is found in regions with a tropical and humid climate.

Are there several species of pepper?

There are approximately 1000 documented species belonging to the Piperaceae family. They are all considered “true peppers,” but black pepper (Piper nigrum) remains the most cultivated and prominent in commerce. Peppers can be of various origins known by names such as Sarawak pepper, Penja pepper, Lampong pepper, Kampot pepper, Malabar pepper, and Madagascar pepper according to their origin.

Piper nigrum (black pepper) is the most well-known and common variety when it comes to pepper. This variety yields green pepper, white pepper, red pepper, and black pepper depending on the degree of maturity at the time of harvesting. Piper longum (long pepper) is native to Sri Lanka. It was one of the first spices to arrive in Europe from the East. It has a slightly sweet and less intense taste. Piper cubeba (cubeb pepper or tailed pepper) is characterized by its very round grain with a peduncle (tail) as long as its fruit. Its taste is similar to Jamaican pepper. This variety is mainly cultivated in Indonesia.

There are also other lesser-known species, but they are also used in cooking, such as Piper guineense (Ashanti pepper), Piper methysticum (intoxicating pepper), or Piper bordonese (wild pepper with Voatsiperifery tails).

Other aromatic berries resemble pepper, but they are not true peppers. Called “false peppers,” these berries still have their culinary interest similar to pepper for enriching the taste in recipes: Schinus molle (pink pepper), Zanthoxylum piperitum (Sichuan pepper), Xylopia aethiopica (Guinea pepper), Polygonum hydropiper (water pepper), Capsicum annuum (Cayenne pepper) … Cayenne pepper is actually a chili.

Why are the colors of Piper nigrum pepper so varied?

Piper nigrum” pepper can be marketed in different colors. It is the same pepper but harvested at different degrees of maturity.

Quality black peppers, Premium black pepper, Gourmet black pepper, Artisan black pepper,Black Pepper:

Black pepper is the one usually found in kitchens in the form of grains. The berries have been harvested before their maturity. This black color is due to sun drying. It is the most aromatic form. Black pepper can also be ground into fine powder, giving a gray color to the ground pepper. In cooking, black pepper is a condiment that is difficult to do without, giving a unique taste and aroma to all types of dishes. It is recommended to add it towards the end of cooking, as the flavor of pepper does not withstand heat well.

red pepper madagascar madamarket exportRed Pepper:

Red pepper is obtained from berries harvested when they are ripe. They are then dried away from the sun without removing the red-colored peel. Red pepper has a spicy and intense taste, with notes of caramel and candied fruits. It is preferred for flavoring meats, especially poultry, duck, and pork.

madagascar green peppersGreen Pepper:

Green pepper comes from berries harvested before maturity. Green pepper is characterized by its freshness, as the berries are not sun-dried. To preserve it, it can be dried, freeze-dried, or stored in salt or brine. Green pepper is less spicy, but it brings vegetal notes to dishes. It is regularly used to flavor fish and meats. Green pepper grains enhance the presentation of dishes once on the plates. In French and Thai cuisines, preparing rib steaks, duck breasts, or pork with green pepper is common.

Madagascar white pepper MadaMarket Export, white pepperWhite Pepper:

White pepper comes from ripe berries that have been stripped of their peel after soaking in water. The seeds are then dried until they whiten. In cooking, white pepper is commonly called “mignonette pepper” because of its texture, milder, and subtler taste. White pepper is preferred in sauces to avoid coloring them.

Pepper grains or ground pepper, which one to choose?

Pepper is widely used in cooking to flavor dishes, salads, marinades, spice blends, and vinegar pickles. Pepper grains store better than ground pepper. The use of a pepper mill is essential for effectively grinding the grains. Pepper instantly releases all its aromas when ground. This allows grinding only the amount needed for culinary preparations. Ground pepper is easier to use, but it is only practical for occasional use. Indeed, it is more difficult to preserve the aromas of ground pepper. It tends to lose most of its aromas over the months.

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