Pepper, common name for a family comprising
a medium-size group of perennial climbing vine of the family
Piperaceae, indigenous to the Malabar Coast of India. It is the
world's most important and oldest spice in use for at least 3000
Pepper, is prepared from the peppercorn, the fruit of the pepper
plant, it is widely cultivated in hot, moist areas of tropical
Asia and has been introduced into tropical areas of Africa and
of the Western Hemisphere. Peppercorns that are harvested while
green and immature and then allowed to dry yield black pepper.
To produce white pepper, red and ripe peppercorns are soaked in
water and their outer covering is rubbed off.
In early historic times pepper was widely cultivated in the
tropics of Southeast Asia, where it became highly regarded as a
condiment. Pepper early became an important article of overland
trade between India and Europe.
The plant can reach heights of 10 m. The berrylike fruits, or
peppercorns, are about 5 mm in diameter. They become yellowish
red at maturity and bear a single seed. Their odour is
penetrating and aromatic; the taste is hot, biting, and very
The plant requires a long rainy season, fairly high
temperatures, and partial shade for best growth.
The berries are picked when they begin to turn red. The
collected berries are immersed in boiling water for about 10
minutes, which causes them to turn dark brown or black in an
hour. Then they are spread out to dry in the sun for four days.
The whole peppercorns, when ground, yield black pepper.
White pepper is obtained by removing the outer coating. The
outer coating is removed by washing and rubbing, and the berries
are spread in the sun to dry. Whole white pepper can also be
prepared by grinding off the outer coating mechanically. The
flavour is less pungent than that of black pepper.