Black pepper has been grown for centuries in India and Indonesia. Who would have guessed that this widely used spice had such an exotic background?
Black pepper comes from the plant Piper nigrum
. To make pepper, the plant's tiny red berries are picked at a young age, boiled, and sun-dried. Then they're sold as whole peppercorns or ground into the spice
we call black pepper. Actually, pepper is both black and white. The black specks come from the berry's hull, or outer coating, which darkens when boiled. The white bits are from the berry's flesh. Chinese food sometimes uses a milder white pepper. White pepper is made by removing the hull
from mature berries, then grinding the center. back to top
How to use pepper
Add a dash of pepper to eggs, fish, beef, salads, vegetables, soups, and chowders to give them pizzazz. Feel daring? Sprinkle a little pepper on fresh strawberries, melon, or vanilla frozen yogurt! For stronger flavor, grind peppercorns in a mill
when you're ready to eat. Ground pepper loses its flavor quickly. As with all spices, use pepper sparingly to enhance
other flavors. back to top
What about red pepper?
Those crushed red pepper flakes you sprinkle on pizza come from dried chili peppers. Chilies, along with sweet peppers, come from a different family of plants than black pepper does. back to top