Peter Piper picked a peck of Pickled Pepper?… Philip T.

24 09 2008

Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) the almost, most always involved ingredient in cooking with it’s sidekick the salt is one of the most important basic seasoning a home cook to a famous chef will always have in his or her kitchen. In it’s dried form the fruit is often referred to as peppercorns and the grounded up powdered pepper can be described as black, white, red, pink and green pepper. It is native in South India and cultivated elsewhere in the tropical regions. Dried ground peppers is prized for it’s flavour and it’s medicinal purposes. It’s spiciness is due to the chemical piperine. The English word for pepper is derived from the Old English pipor. Black pepper comes from still green unripe berries of the pepper plant. it is cooked briefly in hot water, both to clean and prepare them for drying, the heat ruptures cell walls in the fruit speeding up the browning enzymes during drying, the berries are then either dried under the sun or machine dried for several days during which the fruit around the seed shrinks and darkens into a thin, wrinkled black layer as a result of fungal reaction, once dried the fruits are called peppercorns. White pepper consists of the seed only, with the fruit removed. This is done by allowing the fully ripe berries to soak in water for about a week, during which the flesh of the fruit softens and decomposes, rubbing then removes what remains of the fruit and the naked seed is dried, other processes are used for removing the outer fruit from the seed, including the removal of the outer layer from the black pepper produced from unripe berries. Green pepper is also made from unripe berries, dried green peppercorns are treated in a manner which retains it’s green color such as sulfur dioxide or freeze drying. Pickled peppercorns also green are unripe berries preserved in brine or vinegar. Fresh, unpreserved green pepper berries, largely unknown in the West, are used in some Asian cuisines particularly Thai cuisine, it’s flavour has been described as piquant and fresh with a bright aroma, it decays quickly if not dried or preserved. Two well known types come from India’s Malabar Coast: Malabar pepper and Tellicherry pepper, Tellicherry is a higher grade pepper, made from the largest, ripest 10% of berries from Malabar plants grown on Mount Tellicherry. In the United States white pepper is often used in dishes like light colored sauces or mashed potatoes, where ground black pepper would stand out, regarding spiciness there is a disagreement regarding which holds the title because of the processing method they do have different flavours due to the presence of certain compounds in the outer fruit layer of the berry that are not found in the seed.                                                                                                                               Pepper gets it’s spiciness mostly from the piperine compound which is found in the outer fruit and it’s seed, Refined piperine, milligram for milligram is about one percent as hot as capsaicin in chilli peppers, The outer fruit layer, left on black pepper also contains important odour contributing prperties including pinene, sabinene, limonene, caryophyllene and linalool which gives it it’s citrusy, woody and floral notes, these scents are mostly missing in white pepper which is stripped of it’s fruit layer, white pepper can gain some different odours  including it’s musty smell from it’s longer fermentation stage. Pepper loses it’s flavour and aroma through evaporation, an airtight storage helps preserve the original pepper’s spiciness longer, Pepper can also lose it’s flavour when exposed to light because it transforms the piperine into tasteless isochavicine, Once ground, pepper aromatics can evaporate quickly, most culinary sources recommend grinding whole peppercorns immediately before use. Peppercorns are by monetary value the most widely traded spice in the world accounting for 20 percent of all spice imports in 2002, The price of pepper can be volatile and this figure fluctuates a great deal yearly, by weight slightly more chilli peppers are traded worldwide than peppercorns. The International Pepper Exchange is located in Kochi, India.

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