Black pepper should not be confused with other ‘peppers’ such as chili peppers and bell peppers, which belong to the genus Capsicum. Also the names ‘green pepper’ en ‘red pepper’ can be confusing. Depending on how black pepper seeds are processed they can be black, white, red, green or orange. But similar names are used for Capsicum peppers.
Black pepper is the most important and most widely used spice in the world.
Basic information and facts
Black pepper originates from south India.
Important producers of black pepper are Vietnam, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, China and Thailand.
Annual, biennial, or perennial:
Black pepper is a woody vine which is cultivated for its fruits, which can be used fresh or dried. Depending on how the fruits are processed they can be black, white, red, green or orange. The plant needs support from trees. When grown the plant is often supported by poles or trellises.
The alternate leaves are 5 to 10 cm long and 3 to 6 cm wide.
Flowers grow in cluster with many flowerheads attached to one long stem. This is called a spike.
The black pepper fruit is a drupe and contains one single seed. When fully mature the fruits have a dark red color. The dried fruit is called ‘peppercorn’.
Climate and weather:
The black pepper vines when supported by trees, poles or trellises, can be 4 meters long.
Black pepper plants are propagated by cuttings.
Harvested by handpicking the fruits before they are fully ripe. Often, the harvest begins when one or two fruits at the base of the spikes begin to turn red.
Most black pepper is used dried and often sold grounded as a spice. Depending on the process it can be black , white, green or orange. Also the fresh red or green fruits can be used in cooking.
Proverbs and Quotes
- Heart with pepper, soul with garlic. (Russian)
- He who has plenty of pepper may season his food as he likes. (Latin proverb)
- It’s better to eat pepper and be happy than to eat honey and be sad. (African proverb)
Did you know that?
- Black pepper has been a very valuable trade product and therefore is sometimes called “black gold”.