Black pepper is produced from the still-green unripe berries of the pepper plant. The berries are cooked briefly in hot water, both to clean them and to prepare them for drying. The heat ruptures cell walls in the fruit, speeding the work of browning enzymes during drying. The berries are dried in the sun or by machine for several days, during which the fruit around the seed shrinks and darkens into a thin, wrinkled black layer, the result of a fungal reaction. Once dried, the fruits are called black peppercorns.
Medincinal Uses: Black peppercorns figure in remedies in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani medicine in India. The 5th century Syriac Book of Medicines prescribes pepper (or perhaps long pepper) for such illnesses as constipation, diarrhea, earache, gangrene, heart disease, hernia, hoarseness, indigestion, insect bites, insomnia, joint pain, liver problems, lung disease, oral abscesses, sunburn, tooth decay, and toothaches.
Recipes that use Pepper
Alice Waters' Spicy Cauliflower Soup Serves: 4 to 6
Baked Snapper with Fennel Seeds, Paprika, and Garlic Powder Spice Rub Serves: 2 Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 30-45 minutes
Bloody Mary Serves: 8 Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bobby Flay's 16 Spice Rub for Chicken Yields: 3 cups Prep Time: 15 minutes
Indian Inspired Spaghetti Bolognaise Serves: 4-6 Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour
Lebanese Cabbage Rolls with Prosciutto Serves: 6 Prep Time: 45 minutes Cook Time: 30-45 minutes
Middle of the Road Chile Con Carne Serves: 6 Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 3 hours
Rubbed and Glazed Pork Spareribs Serves: 6-8 Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 2 hours