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The original meaning of Peppercorn is the fruit of Black pepper.Black pepper comes from the pepper plant, a smooth woody vine that can grow up to 33 feet in hot and humid tropical climates. They begin to bear small white clustered flowers after 3 to 4 years and develop into berries known as peppercorns. Ground peppercorns produce the spice we call pepper. Black pepper, green pepper and white peppercorns are actually the same fruit (Piper nigrum); the difference in their color is a reflection of varying stages of development and processing methods. spiciness of black pepper is due to the chemical piperine.
Black peppercorns are made by picking the pepper berries when they are half ripe and just about to turn red. They are then left to dry which causes them to shrivel and become dark in color. Once dried, the spice is called black peppercorn . Black pepper is the most pungent and flavorful of all types of peppers and it is available as whole or cracked peppercorns or ground into powder.
White pepper corn consists of the seed only, with the skin of the pepper removed. This is usually accomplished by process known as retting, where fully ripe peppers are soaked in water for about a week, during which the flesh of the pepper softens and decomposes. Rubbing then removes what remains of the fruit, and the naked seed is dried. Alternative processes are used for removing the outer pepper from the seed, include the removal of the outer layer from black pepper from small peppers through mechanical, chemical or biological methods.
Green peppercorn, like black, is made from the unripe berries. Dried green peppercorns are treated in a manner that retains the green colour, such as treatment with sulfur dioxide or freeze-drying. flavor has been described as piquant and fresh, with a bright aroma.
Orange pepper or red pepper corn consists of ripe red pepper berries preserved in brine and vinegar. Ripe red peppercorns can also be dried using the same colour-preserving techniques used to produce green pepper.
Pink pepper from Piper nigrum is distinct from the more-common dried "pink peppercorns", which are the fruits of a plant from a different family, the Peruvian pepper tree.
How to select
Whole peppercorns should be heavy, compact and free of any blemishes.Just like with other dried spices, when purchasing black pepper try to select that which is organically grown since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated (among other potential adverse effects, irradiating black pepper may lead to a significant decrease in its vitamin C content.
· White pepper corn and its powder is often used in dishes like light-coloured sauces or mashed potatoes, where ground black pepper would visibly stand out.
· Fresh, unpreserved green pepper berries, largely unknown in the West, are used in some Asia cuisines, particularly Thai cuisine.
· Whole peppercorns will provide flavor to recipes without adding a great deal of heat. Just be sure to remove them so that no one suffers from biting into one. Add pepper toward the end of cooking to prevent it from turning harsh.
· Pepper corns are a part of the Indian garam masala and are used as tempering along with cinnamon and bayleaf for certain specific recipes.
How to store
Peppercorns should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place. Whole peppercorns will keep almost indefinitely, while ground pepper will stay fresh for about three months.
· Peppercorns stimulates the taste buds in such a way that an alert is sent to the stomach to increase hydrochloric acid secretion, thereby improving digestion.
· Peppercorn is an excellent source of manganese, a very good source of iron and vitamin K, and a good source of dietary fiber
· Black pepper has long been recognized as a carminitive, (a substance that helps prevent the formation of intestinal gas), a property likely due to its beneficial effect of stimulating hydrochloric acid production. In addition, black pepper has diaphoretic (promotes sweating), and diuretic (promotes urination) properties.
· Peppercorn has demonstrated impressive antioxidant and antibacterial effects
· Peppercorn has been used for illnesses as constipation, diarrhea, earache, heart disease, hernia, hoarseness, insect bites, insomnia, joint pain, liver problems, tooth decay, and toothaches.
Green peppercorns are seed berries of Piper nigrum vine, whose origin dates back to 1000 B.C. It is one of the widely and oldest used spice and has been used as a trade commodity which was very expensive. The pepper berries grow in clusters (50 to 60) per spike. The peppercorns are first green in colour and in various stages of development and processing black peppercorns and white peppercorns are derived. Green peppercorns are unripe berries, which are picked when they are green in colour. They are not allowed to dry, are least pungent and their spiciness and flavour is less concentrated than other peppercorns. They are usually pickled in brine or vinegar.How to select
Green peppercorns are mostly soaked in brine or vinegar. Ensure that you check the brand, packaging, manufacturing date and expiry date before purchasing. They are available in bottles or jars and thus ensure they are not chipped and are well sealed. Culinary Uses
· Green peppercorns are always available pickled in vinegar or brine. Use as an healthy accompaniment to curd rice etc. Do note that it can be sliced, chopped or eaten whole when pickled.
· Green peppercorns are more widely used in Thai, French and Western European cuisine.
· Since they have a very mild flavour, one can flavour pastas, stews, casseroles, gravies etc with green peppercorns.
· It is used to prepare green peppercorn sauce which goes very well with grilled meats, chicken etc. You can also use this sauce innovatively in Indian sizzlers.
· A variety of mustards are flavoure with green peppercorn. These flavoured mustards act as a wonderful sandwich spread and a good base ingredient for dips etc.
· It can act as a unique topping on pizzas, open toasts, canapés and other starters. How to store
Since they are perishable, always store green peppercorns under refrigerated conditions. Once the jar is opened, ensure that you use green peppercorns within a month. Health Benefits
· They help fight bacterial growth in the intestines. In addition, green peppercorns are high in iron, vitamin K, and antioxidants.
· The skin of the peppercorn is helpful in breaking down fat cells, so eating green peppercorns can even help lose weight.
· Green Peppercorns act as digestive stimulants. It also helps reduce several types of stomach disorders.
· Green pepper contains the enzyme "piperine" which can dramatically increase the absorption of nutrients like Vitamin B, selenium and Beta- carotene.
· Green peppercorns also figure in Ayurveda and Siddha remedies. Books have mentioned how they aid combat illnesses like diarrhea, constipation, joint pains, indigestion, tooth decay, tooth aches etc.