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Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning, known.
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White pepper has a different flavour from black pepper; it lacks certain compounds present in the outer layer of the drupe. Green pepper, like black, is made from the unripe drupes. Dried green peppercorns are treated in a way that retains the green colour, such as treatment with sulphur dioxide , canning , or freeze-drying. Pickled peppercorns, also green, are unripe drupes preserved in brine or vinegar.

Fresh, unpreserved green pepper drupes, largely unknown in the West, are used in some Asian cuisines , particularly Thai cuisine.


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Their flavour has been described as spicy and fresh, with a bright aroma. Wild pepper grows in the Western Ghats region of India. Into the 19th century, the forests contained expansive wild pepper vines, as recorded by the Scottish physician Francis Buchanan also a botanist and geographer in his book A journey from Madras through the countries of Mysore, Canara and Malabar Volume III.

No successful grafting of commercial pepper on wild pepper has been achieved to date. Orange pepper or red pepper usually consists of ripe red pepper drupes preserved in brine and vinegar. Ripe red peppercorns can also be dried using the same colour-preserving techniques used to produce green pepper. As they are members of the cashew family, they may cause allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, for persons with a tree nut allergy.

The bark of Drimys winteri "canelo" or "winter's bark" is used as a substitute for pepper in cold and temperate regions of Chile and Argentina , where it is easily available.

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In New Zealand, the seeds of kawakawa Macropiper excelsum , a relative of black pepper, are sometimes used as pepper, and the leaves of Pseudowintera colorata mountain horopito are another replacement for pepper. Several plants in the United States are used also as pepper substitutes, such as Lepidium campestre , Lepidium virginicum , shepherd's purse , horseradish , and field pennycress. It is a spreading vine, rooting readily where trailing stems touch the ground. Competing plants are cleared away, leaving only sufficient trees to provide shade and permit free ventilation.

The roots are covered in leaf mulch and manure , and the shoots are trimmed twice a year.

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On dry soils, the young plants require watering every other day during the dry season for the first three years. The plants bear fruit from the fourth or fifth year, and then typically for seven years. The cuttings are usually cultivars , selected both for yield and quality of fruit. A single stem bears 20 to 30 fruiting spikes. The harvest begins as soon as one or two fruits at the base of the spikes begin to turn red, and before the fruit is fully mature, and still hard; if allowed to ripen completely, the fruit lose pungency, and ultimately fall off and are lost. The spikes are collected and spread out to dry in the sun, then the peppercorns are stripped off the spikes.

Black pepper is native either to Southeast Asia [13] or South Asia. Global pepper production may vary annually [16] according to crop management, disease, and weather.

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Innes Miller notes that while pepper was grown in southern Thailand and in Malaysia , its most important source was India, particularly the Malabar Coast , in what is now the state of Kerala. The legacy of this trade remains in some Western legal systems that recognize the term " peppercorn rent " as a token payment for something that is, essentially, being given. The ancient history of black pepper is often interlinked with and confused with that of long pepper , the dried fruit of closely related Piper longum.

The Romans knew of both and often referred to either as just piper. In fact, the popularity of long pepper did not entirely decline until the discovery of the New World and of chili peppers. Chili peppers—some of which, when dried, are similar in shape and taste to long pepper—were easier to grow in a variety of locations more convenient to Europe.

Black pepper - Wikipedia

These areas traded mainly with China, or used the pepper locally. Following the British hegemony in India, virtually all of the black pepper found in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa was traded from Malabar region. Black peppercorns were found stuffed in the nostrils of Ramesses II , placed there as part of the mummification rituals shortly after his death in BCE. Pepper both long and black was known in Greece at least as early as the fourth century BCE, though it was probably an uncommon and expensive item that only the very rich could afford.

Details of this trading across the Indian Ocean have been passed down in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. According to the Roman geographer Strabo , the early empire sent a fleet of around ships on an annual one-year trip to China, Southeast Asia, India, and back. The fleet timed its travel across the Arabian Sea to take advantage of the predictable monsoon winds. Returning from India, the ships travelled up the Red Sea , from where the cargo was carried overland or via the Nile-Red Sea canal to the Nile River, barged to Alexandria , and shipped from there to Italy and Rome.

The rough geographical outlines of this same trade route would dominate the pepper trade into Europe for a millennium and a half to come. With ships sailing directly to the Malabar coast, black pepper was now travelling a shorter trade route than long pepper, and the prices reflected it.

It is quite surprising that the use of pepper has come so much into fashion, seeing that in other substances which we use, it is sometimes their sweetness, and sometimes their appearance that has attracted our notice; whereas, pepper has nothing in it that can plead as a recommendation to either fruit or berry, its only desirable quality being a certain pungency; and yet it is for this that we import it all the way from India! Who was the first to make trial of it as an article of food? Black pepper was a well-known and widespread, if expensive, seasoning in the Roman Empire.

Apicius ' De re coquinaria , a third-century cookbook probably based at least partly on one from the first century CE, includes pepper in a majority of its recipes. Edward Gibbon wrote, in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire , that pepper was "a favorite ingredient of the most expensive Roman cookery". Pepper was so valuable that it was often used as collateral or even currency.

In the Dutch language, "pepper expensive" peperduur is an expression for something very expensive. The taste for pepper or the appreciation of its monetary value was passed on to those who would see Rome fall. Alaric , king of the Visigoths , included 3, pounds of pepper as part of the ransom he demanded from Rome when he besieged the city in fifth century.

Once into the Mediterranean, the trade was largely monopolized by Italian powers, especially Venice and Genoa. The rise of these city-states was funded in large part by the spice trade. A riddle authored by Saint Aldhelm , a seventh-century Bishop of Sherborne , sheds some light on black pepper's role in England at that time:. I am black on the outside, clad in a wrinkled cover, Yet within I bear a burning marrow. I season delicacies, the banquets of kings, and the luxuries of the table, Both the sauces and the tenderized meats of the kitchen. But you will find in me no quality of any worth, Unless your bowels have been rattled by my gleaming marrow.

During the Middle Ages , pepper was commonly believed to be used to conceal the taste of partially rotten meat.

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No evidence supports this claim, and historians view it as highly unlikely; in the Middle Ages, pepper was a luxury item , affordable only to the wealthy, who certainly had unspoiled meat available, as well. E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want. News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

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Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings. There is reason for hope The days until next year's general election will be dark and stormy. Brought to you by: Pepper the robot is aimed at helping people. What To Read Next.

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Pepper loves to interact with you, Pepper wants to learn more about your tastes, your habits and quite simply who you are. Pepper can recognise your face, speak, hear you and move around autonomously. You can also personalise your robot by downloading the software applications that take your fancy, based on your mood or the occasion. Dance, play, learn or even chat in another language, Pepper adapts himself to you!

Your robot evolves with you.