Mountain Rose Herbs

Pepper Ground, White

Also known as

Piper nigrum

Introduction

Peppercorns are the fruit of Piper nigrum, an evergreen climbing vine. Black, white, and green peppercorns all come form the same plant, but they are harvested at different times and handled in different ways. To make black pepper, the clusters are plucked when they are not quite ripe. They are then left in piles to ferment. After a few days, the berries are spread out on a mat and left to dry in the sun for two or three more days until they are shriveled and nearly black. To make white pepper, the berry is picked fully ripe. Its outer shrunken skin is rubbed off, exposing the dried, grayish-white pepper inside. White pepper has a milder, more delicate flavor than black pepper, and is useful for adding a peppery flavor to light-colored sauces and soup without adding black color. White pepper is popular in European cuisines.

Constituents

White pepper contains slightly less essential oil than black pepper. The aroma of both black and white pepepr is due to the 80% content of monoterpenes: sabinene, beta-pinene, limonene, furthermore terpinene, alpha-pinene, myrcene, delta-3-carene and monoterpene derivatives (borneol, carvone, carvacrol, 1,8-cineol, linalool). Sesquiterpenes make up about 20% of the essential oil: beta-caryophyllene, humulene, beta-bisabolone and caryophyllene ketone.

Parts Used

The dried whole berries, ground just prior to use.

Typical Preparations

Traditionally added to food. Can be taken in capsule form.

Summary

The black pepper many of us use every day to season food has a wide variety of medicinal applications. White pepper has similar but milder effects. Ground black pepper (although not peppercorns) can keep food fresh. In 1998, the Quarterly Review of Biology reported that ground black pepper killed about 25% of the bacteria that could cause spoilage of food. In combination with garlic, allspice, onion, or oregano, black pepper could kill almost all of the bacteria that could cause food to spoil.

Precautions

Avoid excessive use of black, white, or green pepper (more than 1 teaspoon per day) if you take prescription digoxin (Lanoxin) or phenytoin (Dilantin). Too much pepper may slow the rate at which the liver clears these medications from the bloodstream.

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

These pages are best viewed while sipping tea