• The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World

PEPPER ( Piper nigrum L.  )
Names in Other Languages:

English Pepper, Black pepper, White pepper
French Poivre
German Pfeffer
Spanish Pimienta
Italian Pepe
Turkish Karabiber
Japanese ペッパー Peppa
Family: Piperaceae

Origin: India and it is cultivated in Indonesia, Brazil, Madagascar as well.

General Description:

Pepper comes from several species of a vinous plant, the spice being the fruit, called peppercorns. Black pepper is the dried, unripe berry. The corns are wrinkled and spherical. White pepper starts out the same as the black, but are allowed to ripen more fully on the vine. The outer shell is then removed by soaking the berries in water until the shell falls off, or are held under flowing spring water, yielding a whiter, cleaner pepper. Green pepper is from the same fruit but is harvested before they mature. Pink pepper, is not a vinous pepper,Pink peppercorns have a brittle, papery pink skin enclosing a hard, irregular seed, much smaller than the whole fruit.Black pepper comes from the berries of the pepper plant. Black pepper, green pepper and white peppercorns are actually the same fruit (Piper nigrum); the difference in their color is a reflection of varying stages of development and processing methods. Black pepper is the most pungent and flavorful of all types of peppers and it is available as whole or cracked peppercorns or ground into powder. Black pepper is one of the world's most widely and frequently used spices all over the world.

Useful Parts:

Black pepper is obtained from the unripe green berries of the vine, which become black when they are dried in the sun. YELLOW (or WHITE) PEPPER is obtained from ripe red berries or by peeling off the pericarp from black peppercorns. Dried fruits, usually known as peppercorns. Depending on harvest time and processing, peppercorns can be black, white, green and red (reddish brown). Peppercorns are also available pickled in brine or vinegar. This is the traditional form of preserving green peppercorns, but in recent years, preserved red peppercorns have become increasingly popular. There is no pickled black or white pepper.
Sensory Quality:

Pungent and aromatic. The pungency is strongest in white pepper and weakest in green pepper, while black and green peppercorns are more aromatic than the white ones. Green peppercorn have a somewhat immature, herbaecous fragrance. Red peppercorns combine a sugary-sweet taste with the mature pungency and flavour of black pepper. Freshly ground pepper is more aromatic than packaged powders.
Main Constituents:

White pepper has a higher content of piperine (C17H19NO3) and consequently has a hotter taste than black pepper. Fresh peppercorns contain approx. 5 - 9% piperine [1]
Essential oils:
4.6 - 9.7% piperine in black pepper [2]
4.8 - 10% piperine in white pepper [2]

Black pepper contains about 3% essential oil, whose aroma is dominated (max. 80%) by monoterpenes hydrocarbons: sabinene, β-pinene, limonene, furthermore terpinene, α-pinene, myrcene, and monoterpene derivatives (borneol, carvone, carvacrol, 1,8-cineol, linalool). Sesquiterpenes make up about 20% of the essential oil: β-caryophyllene, humulene, β-bisabolone and caryophyllene oxide and ketone. Phenylether (eugenol, myristicin, safrole) are found in traces. Loss of monoterpenes due to bad storage conditions (especially for ground pepper) should be avoided.

The most important odorants organoleptically in black pepper are linalool, α-phellandrene, limonene, myrcene and α-pinene; furthermore, branched-chain aldehydes were found (3-methylbutanal, methylpropanal). The musty flavour of old pepper is attributed to the formation of heterocyclic compounds (2-isopropyl-3-methoxypyrazine, 2,3-diethyl-5-methylpyrazine) in concentrations of about 1 ppb. [3]

The content of essential oil of white pepper is lower (1%), and the most abundant compounds are monoterpene hydrocarbons: limonene, β-pinene, α-pinene and α-phellandrene. Organoleptically most important are linalool (although occurring as a minor component), limonene, α-pinene and phenylpropanoids (eugenol, piperonal); furthermore, short-chain aldehydes and carboxylic acids have been found important. In overstored white pepper, scatole is formed (2 ppm) and imparts an disagreeable, faecal flavour. [4]

The pungent principle in pepper is an alkaloid-analog compound, piperine; it is the amide of 5-(2,4-dioxymethylene-phenyl)-hexa-2,4-dienoic acid (piperinic acid) with azinane (piperidine); only the trans,trans conformer contributes to pepper’s pungency. Several piperine-analogs have been isolated from black pepper where the acid carbon backbone is partially hydrogenated (piperanine) or two carbon atoms longer (piperettine); amides of piperinic acid with pyrrolidine (piperyline) or isobutylamine (piperlongumine) have also been isolated. Total content of piperine-analogs in black pepper is about 5%. The main flavor is from piperine, but other essential oils, including terpenes, contribute to the aroma. Its alkaloids include the pungent tasting chavicine and piperidine
Nutritional Profile:

According to a 1968 Pan-American Health Organization (PHAO) survey, the following conclusions were obtained:
Contents % Black Pepper

% White Pepper

Humidity 13 4.5
Ash, maximum 7 3
Soluble fixed mineral residues, maximum 3.5 1
Fixed mineral residues insoluble in hydrochloric acid (1+9) maximum 1.5 0.5
Ethereal extract, minimum 7 6
Alcoholic extract (calculated on dry substance), minimum 8 7

Raw fiber, maximum

15 5

Main uses in food processing:

Black pepper is mostly used in Western culinary but also yellow pepper is preferred in cooking cause it does not ass dark color into the foods. Pepper is used widely in sauces, meat dishes and snack foods. The oil and oleoresin is used to produce convenience foods and sometimes in perfumery. Secondary importance is the use of preserved immature green pepper or fresh pepper fruits. They are eaten more like a vegetable.
Culinary Uses:

Black pepper has a biting, hot flavor suitable to seasoning an immense variety of foods. White pepper is more subtle in heat and more practical in lighter colored dishes where black specks would be unappealing. Used in combination, black, white and green peppercorns offer a great range of tastes. Pepper is best ground directly on to food. With hot food it is best to add pepper well towards the end of the cooking process, to preserve its aroma. White pepper is used in white sauces rather than black pepper, which would give the sauce a speckled appearance. Green peppercorns can be mashed with garlic, cinnamon or to make a spiced butter or with cream to make a fresh and attractive sauce for fish. Pink peppercorns are called for in a variety of dishes, from poultry to vegetables and fish. The traditional types are black and white; dried green peppercorns are a more recent innovation, but are now rather common in Western countries. Red peppercorns, however, are still a very rare commodity.
Medicinal Properties:

Improve Digestion and Promote Intestinal Health
Black pepper stimulates the taste buds in such a way that an alert is sent to to the stomach to increase hydrochloric acid secretion, thereby improving digestion. Hydrochloric acid is necessary for the digestion of proteins and other food components in the stomach. When the body's production of hydrochloric acid is insufficient, food may sit in the stomach for an extended period of time, leading to heartburn or indigestion, or it may pass into the intestines, where it can be used as a food source for unfriendly gut bacteria, whose activities produce gas, irritation, and/or diarrhea or constipation.
Black pepper has long been recognized as a carminitive, (a substance that helps prevent the formation of intestinal gas), a property likely due to its beneficial effect of stimulating hydrochloric acid production. In addition, black pepper has diaphoretic (promotes sweating), and diuretic (promotes urination) properties. Black pepper has demonstrated impressive antioxidant and antibacterial effects--yet another way in which this wonderful seasoning promotes the health of the digestive tract. And not only does black pepper help you derive the most benefit from your food, the outer layer of the peppercorn stimulates the breakdown of fat cells, keeping you slim while giving you energy to burn.


[1]Falbe, J. - Regitz, M.: Römpp Chemie Lexikon, Georg Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart 1995
[2]Scharnow, R.: Codiertes Handbuch der Güter des Seetransports, VE Kombinat Seeverkehr und Hafenwirtschaft - Deutfracht/Seereederei - Ingenieurhochschule für Seefahrt Warnemünde/Wustrow, Rostock 1986, Bd. 1: Stückgut A-K, Bd. 2: Stückgut L-Z, Bd. 3: Spezialgut
[3] (Eur. Food Res. Technol., 209, 16, 1999)
[4] (Eur. Food Res. Technol., 209, 27, 1999)
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