What can Black Pepper do ? The black pepper or (Piper Nigrum) is part of the Piperaceae family of flowering climbing vines. A pungent spice native to Southern India, that is not only consumed or added into other recipes, but is also popular for bioactive compounds, having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. An ingredient you add to almost every dish following salt, but what does it actually do to your dish, is there really any need for it?
A Short Introduction
There was a time in history that we could pay through spices. The “Black Gold” spice or “Pepper” is part of the flowering vine of the Piperaceae family. Cultivated for the fruit which is then dried and turned to our staple, ever ready peppercorn. ‘Pepper’ derived from the Old English word ‘pipor’ or Latin ‘piper’ was used since the 16th century, it played an important role especially to Ancient China and India, for its medicinal properties, a crucial ingredient in Roman dishes, and was an important ingredient to Medieval Europe. Vasco da Gama brought the black pepper plant to Africa, the Indian Ocean, and proceeded to be brought by Christopher Columbus across the Atlantic Ocean, then to the New World.
The Black pepper spice was once the most used spice, even called the ‘King of Spices’ being used in every cuisine in the world. Native and exclusively cultivated in the Malabar Coast of India, and other tropical regions. Written in numerous records dating back from at least 3000 years. Peppercorn were very much so used as medicine. Said to be used for antiseptic properties, toothaches, insomnia, constipation, and even as a substitute for toothpaste. This then reached China who also used it as a medicinal aid, and slowly used it for culinary purposes. They were also of importance in Ancient Egypt, aside from being active with trading goods with India and Arabia. While there are not many records on how the Egyptians used this spice, they were found stuffed in the nostrils of mummies, namely Ramesses II.
Used for its flavor and even as traditional medicine. Peppercorns or specifically the black pepper is a spice that will surely never be gone from your spice cupboard, from using it to broths, marinating, smoked goods, salads, rubs, pickling, and many more. Just adding a pinch of black pepper powder here and there to your savory dishes can add that bit of pungent, spicy, woody, limey and even musty-like taste that is sure to complete the dish.
What is black pepper good for ?
Pepper does more than improve the taste of food. While they were used for certain medical purposes in Ancient times, these below are the researched version of black pepper benefits of eating, or drinking can slowly help you with:
- Reduces formation of gasses, and helps you sweat to remove toxins in the body.
- These have antibacterial properties, also having potential as antioxidants.
- Improve gut health which in turn helps with cholesterol and blood sugar control.
- Boosts nutrient absorption especially for certain spices like cumin, fruits and vegetables.
Black Pepper Uses
A flavor modifier, combined with the dish of choice, carries the dish the way it needs to be. There are a variety of peppercorns that suit each type of dish better, here is a short list.
- Black peppercorns, the most common, are fully matured with a strong slightly spicy flavor.
- White peppercorns, ripened berries stripped of the outer skin, lacking strength in flavor compared to black peppercorns, used mostly for aesthetic purposes, to keep the dish spotless.
- Pink peppercorn, also called ‘red peppercorns’ are a bit fruitier with some heat, similar to the white peppercorn, it’s aesthetically used as a garnish.
- Green peppercorns, immature berries that are brined or dried, milder in taste.
Considered one of the most important spices grown in the Philippines. You’ll find this inconspicuous spice in every dish. An everyday seasoning used grounded, crushed, or whole. This spice that once dominated the earth through its specific flavor profile is sure to be readily available at home and can be used in a multitude of ways. Just make sure you use a dash at a time.