By Cecily Costa.
From my kitchen library—”PEPPER The Master Spice” (adapted from the classic and
essential The Spice Cook Book):
Once as rare as fine pearls, and traded as a substitute for money, pepper is thought to have been traded from India over 4,000 years ago. Ancient Greeks and Romans used both black and white pepper as far back as 3,000 years ago.
Much like cocoa beans (aka chocolate), pepper is grown within 20 degrees of the Equator. The names associated with pepper sound like a globe trotter’s itinerary of India and the Far East: Tellicherry, Alleppey and Pandjang, for example, have been pepper ports for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
Piper nigrum (peppercorns, or berries, as we know it) is believed to be native to Malabar on the western coast of India. It is a tropical vine that produces green, black and white pepper.
- Green peppercorns are unripe black peppercorns.
- Black peppercorns are picked just before they are fully ripe, making them more pungent.
- White peppercorns are allowed to ripen completely, making the shell easier to remove and the pepper inside more mellow.
- Tellicherry black peppercorns (BiRite #512723), from Malabar on the coast of India, are considered the best. They are left on the vine longer so they develop a deep, rich flavor and are larger than average in size.
The word pepper originates from the Latin piper, which also gave us poivre, pfeffer, pepe, pimienta and peppar in French, German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish, respectively.
We stock a full line of spices including a large selection of peppercorns including Green, Black and White as well as Pink & Szechuan which berries from different plants, but look like peppercorns. (Pink peppercorns are actually part of the cashew family & red Szechuan peppercorns are part of the citrus family).
Fun Fact: WHY DOES PEPPER MAKE YOU SNEEZE? Sneezing is a reflex that is triggered when nerve endings inside the mucous membrane of the nose are stimulated. White, black and green pepper contains an alkaloid called piperine. Piperine irritates the nerve endings in the mucous membranes causing you to sneeze (to rid your body of the product).
*Contact your BiRite Sales Rep for a complete list of pepper that we stock.