Piper nigrum

Pepper is a vine that climbs up to 9 metres high on trees or other columns. Not until the third year of growth does it bear fruit, which hangs down in clusters like currant berries. Harvesting takes place about three months after flowering, meaning that the berries can be harvested three times a year. Green, black and white pepper all stem from the same shrub. Green pepper comes from berries that are harvested while still green and then pickled in salt or vinegar. Black pepper is obtained from semi-ripe berries that are dried after harvesting. For white pepper, the red berries are allowed to ripen, harvested, soaked and the fleshy outer covering is then chafed away. Finally, the berries are dried until they turn yellowish white.

Countries of origin

India, Indonesia, Brazil, Borneo, Java, Sumatra, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, Madagascar, West Africa
The pepper shrub is native to the Malabar Coast in southwest India. Pepper came to play an important role throughout history, serving not only as a gift to the gods, but also as a currency to pay things like taxes in countries involved in early commercial trade. European and Asian countries that controlled the pepper trade amassed great wealth. India is still a principal producer today, in addition to Sarawak on Borneo, Java and Brazil. More than 20 varieties of pepper are currently available on the world market.

Flavour and aroma

Pepper is a hot biting spice. The green and white corns have a more aromatic and milder flavour than the black. The alkaloid piperine makes pepper pungent. Black pepper: beef or pork roasts, steak, game, sausage products, dark soups or sauces White pepper: white soups, sauces and fricassees; poultry, rabbit, veal, fish, egg dishes, mushrooms; also ideal in salad dressings Green pepper: sauces, steak, poultry, cheese, salads, tomato soup Pepper is used in soups, stocks, sauces, vegetables, as well as fish and meat marinades. One to two white peppercorns give pickled peaches and mirabelle plums an especially delicious flavour. A cook's rule for using the different varieties is: white pepper for light-coloured foods, black pepper for dark. Both kinds are particularly aromatic when ground fresh in a peppermill. Green pickled pepper harmonises well with steak, ground meat, soups, sauces and meat stuffings. Even fruits, such as strawberries, acquire a piquant taste from green pepper. Red pepper mainly serves as a decorative spice.

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