BLACK PEPPER

(Above) Here you can see the unripe green fruit which must be plucked, boiled and dried before you eat it.

COMMON NAME: Black pepper

 

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Piper nigrum

FAMILY: Piperaceae

OTHER NAMES: 

Kali mirch (Hindi)

Karimenasu (Kannada)

Kurumulaku (Malayalam)

Golmirich/Kali miri (Marathi)

Kurumilagu (Tamil)

DISTRIBUTION: Native to southern India, although now cultivated in many tropical countries

DESCRIPTION: A flowering vine, growing up to 8 m high on trees or poles

Historically, pepper has been one of the most sought after spices in the world largely due to its medicinal properties. Its high value in Europe in the Middle Ages was one of the incentives for Vasco da Gama and the Portuguese to seek a sea route to India. It was sometimes used as a sort of currency due to its high value, compact size, and durability. Think about it: those are the same properties we value in money!

 

Black pepper, white pepper and green pepper are all produced from Piper nigrum fruits, but are harvested at different times and processed differently. Betel leaf (Piper betel) is also from the same genus, and a number of other wild species are also called pepper locally, and used in a similar manner. For example, Indian long pepper (Piper longum), is native to the region from Assam to Myanmar. Sichuan pepper, often used in Asian cooking, is obtained from Zanthoxylum species. In South America, Pink pepper is obtained from the Brazilian pepper tree (Schinus terebinthifolia).  

 

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