Pepper is one of the top three most commonly used ingredients in the kitchen. In different forms and flavors, this spice was used by people even 4000 years ago. Long ago as precious as gold, today pepper can be found in any kitchen.
Pepper, Piper nigrum by its Latin name, is obtained from the plant belonging to the family Piperaceae, a family of tropical plants of approximately 1,400 species.
Pepper occurs in four colors: black, white, red and green. Its colors vary depending on its ripeness and the way peppers are harvested. The traditional types of pepper are the black and the white kinds.
White peppercorns are more intense in flavor compared with green peppercorns. Black pepper and green pepper are more aromatic than the white kind. Red pepper is hot and slightly sweet.
1. Ordinary pepper found in every kitchen was once sold at an exorbitant price
Today, you can hardly find a cuisine that doesn’t use pepper. Some testimonies show that this spice was already used in South Asia 4,000 years ago.
Centuries ago, pepper, a native of India, was a precious commodity, comparable to gold in price. Throughout history, pepper was used as commodity exchange and it was a symbol of one’s wealth or social condition. In the Middle Ages pepper was used to mask the smell of outdated meat with its strong taste.
In international cuisine peppercorns are nicknamed the king of the spices. Pepper is the third most used ingredient in recipes worldwide.
Pepper can be stored for years without losing its flavor. It keeps much better if the grain of pepper is kept whole; ground pepper tends to lose the strength of its flavor over time. The countries that produce the most pepper are India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brazil.
2. Peppers of different color come from the same source
For a long time, it was thought that black and white pepper come from different plants. This error has been propagated for centuries, before it was discovered that they actually grow on the same plant. Pepper varies in color, shades and flavor due to different phases of ripening, as well as the processing methods.
3. Black and white peppers are older than the green and red kinds
Black and white peppers are known from the antiquity. Black pepper is native to Malabar, a region in southern India. Even the origin of the word “pepper” comes from Sanskrit, the name of the long pepper. Next, the Greek word “Peper” and the Latin “piper” came along. Green and red peppers have become common more recently.
4. Pepper stimulates the appetite
The very strong flavor of pepper stimulates the appetite. Although not an absolutely necessary food to the body the way salt is, pepper is used in all cuisines of the world, from the Indian to the French.
5. Pepper brings meat dishes to life
Pepper goes very well in combination with meat. It also gives flavor to baked potatoes, sauces, pasta etc.
Also, pepper is recommended to flavor foods that contain natural fat. It may be combined with pork, meat, fatter fish and various steaks. Sauces with butter, oil or cream are more flavorful if a little pepper is added.