Piper nigrum L.
Plant Family: Piperaceae
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.
The dried whole berries, ground just prior to use.
Traditionally added to food. Can be taken in capsule form.
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.
Specific: Consumption of the fruit should not exceed small amounts for use as a spice.
General: We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
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.