In the past, seasoning with pepper was a privilege of the upper class. Today the spice can be found on almost every dining table. In addition, pepper is considered a traditional medicinal plant in many countries and is used for ailments.
Pepper – The Fruits Of The Pepper Bush
Together with salt, pepper is an integral part of every spice cabinet. The aromatic grains are the fruits of the pepper bush from the pepper family. The pepper bush is a climbing plant that grows up to 10 meters high. The pepper bush should not be confused with the pepper tree, which belongs to another family of plants – the sumac family.
These include, for example, the Peruvian and Brazilian pepper trees, which provide the pink pepper for colourful pepper mixtures. The Peruvian pepper tree, in particular, is a beautiful tree with drooping branches reminiscent of a weeping willow.
Where The Pepper Grows
If you send someone “to where the pepper grows”, you want the person to be somewhere far away, and you don’t want to see them again. This distant place was originally India, from where the spicy grains spread to other countries. The largest growing countries today include Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Brazil and Malaysia.
The Types Of Pepper
There are four types of pepper: black, green, red and white. The varieties all belong to the Piper nigrum, the so-called “real pepper”. So these are not different plants, but only different stages of maturity or other processing methods. The taste is correspondingly diverse. Green pepper tastes the mildest, white pepper the hottest. When unripe, the fruits are green. When ripe, they are red. The peppercorns only become black or white through further processing steps.
For green pepper, the unripe, green fruits are harvested. The grains are then freeze-dried or marinated in brine – depending on whether they are sold dried or marinated in a jar. The whole green peppercorns are z. B. used in pepper sauce.
Black pepper is also harvested unripe when the fruits are still green. The grains get their colour and wrinkled skin from drying or fermenting for several days. The black variant tastes much hotter and tart than the green pepper. It is used whole or ground and can refine almost any dish.
For red pepper, the peppery fruits are harvested when they are ripe. Due to the long ripening time, the red variety tastes much more aromatic and fruity than green and black pepper and has a sweet note. In addition, this type of pepper is more expensive because of the longer ripening time.
It is dried, mainly used whole and refined, e.g. B. Desserts. Red pepper should not be confused with pink pepper, which is sometimes added to pepper mixtures (see paragraph “Pepper-like spices – real pepper or not?”)
The ripe red fruits are also harvested for white pepper. The pulp is then loosened by soaking it in water for several days so that only the white seeds remain inside. These are then dried. The white variant tastes hotter than black, green and red pepper but less fruity.
White pepper should only be added at the end of the cooking time. Otherwise, it can develop unpleasant aromas. There are also many other representatives of natural pepper that are grown in different areas of the world according to specific guidelines and whose origin is a seal of quality.
Cooking With Pepper
In addition to salt, pepper is the universal spice par excellence – the grains are used worldwide and are typically used in hearty dishes and wherever a bit of spiciness is needed in food. But sweet dishes can also be perfectly refined with it. The red pepper is best suited for this, thanks to its sweet note. Below are some tips for cooking with flavorful grains.
Add Pepper Only After Cooking
Ground pepper is ideal for seasoning just before the cooking time or directly at the table. It is best to buy whole peppercorns and grind them fresh because the essential oils develop their full aroma during grinding. On the other hand, if you accept the ground version, most of the essential oils have already evaporated.
Whole peppercorns are ideal for dishes that need to cook longer. The aromas are primarily retained so that the grains still give off flavour even after a long cooking time. Peppercorns that have previously been roasted in the pan over a low heat are particularly rich in flavour. On the other hand, they should not be fried at high temperatures, as they quickly become bitter. Therefore only add the grains after frying.
This Is How Pepper Is Ground
The easiest way to grind the sharp grains is, of course, in a pepper mill. You can also use the mortar or the good old rolling pin if you don’t have a pepper mill. If you want to grind the sharp grains very finely, you will achieve the best results in the high-performance mixer.
This Is How You Can Neutralize Pepper
If you accidentally put too much pepper in a dish, you can neutralize the taste with a bit of cream, yoghurt or water. Potatoes also balance the typical peppery flavour, but of course, they don’t go well with every dish.
For Digestive Problems
Pepper stimulates the production of salivary and gastric juices and thereby supports digestion. The aromatic grains can also help with digestive problems such as flatulence, stomach pain and diarrhoea. In the case of sensitive people, the hot substances can, in turn, irritate the mucous membranes in the stomach and intestines.
So if you generally have a sensitive stomach lining, you shouldn’t use peppercorns if you have digestive problems. Use: grind a teaspoon of black peppercorns in a mortar, pour into a cup and pour 150 ml of hot water. Alternatively, you can also add 4 to 5 fresh peppermint leaves. The tea tastes better this way, and you also benefit from the pain-relieving effect of peppermint.
Since the pepper has an antibacterial and warming effect, it is wonderfully suitable as a home remedy for colds. Use: grind a teaspoon of black peppercorns in a mortar, add a few slices of fresh ginger and fresh turmeric root to a cup and pour 150 ml of hot water. Let the tea cool down and enjoy. You can drink cold tea several times a day.
Pepper For A Sore Throat
Due to its anti-inflammatory effects, pepper is an ideal and easy to use remedy for sore throats. Application: Chew three black peppercorns well in your mouth so that the active ingredients can escape. Then swallow and repeat several times a day if necessary.
This Pepper Is The Healthiest
The health effects of black pepper have been the most studied due to its prevalence and high piper content. Black pepper is therefore commonly considered to be the healthiest variety of pepper currently available. Green, red and white pepper, on the other hand, have been much less researched, so it is still difficult to assess their health potential.
Researchers suspect that the black pepper could be used in the future for inflammatory diseases such as various types of cancer, intestinal disorders, and skin diseases. So far, however, human studies are rare. However, black pepper is already used in dietary supplements today, as piperine is known to increase the bioavailability of other substances. This means that it ensures that the body better absorbs other substances.
Pepper For Histamine Intolerance
Piperine can make the intestine more permeable to histamine so that the body can absorb it better. This should be avoided in the case of histamine intolerance, which is why pepper is generally not recommended for histamine intolerance. You could try out whether you can tolerate small amounts of it and find the green, red or white variant better for you than the black one – this would be entirely possible due to the varying piping content.
A pepper allergy is relatively rare—mugwort pollen allergy sufferers from time to time from a cross allergy to pepper. Pepper allergies have the same symptoms as other food allergies, e.g. B. stomach pain, rash, itching, a runny nose, etc.
Pepper For Babies And Children
Since the taste buds of babies and children are more sensitive than those of adolescents and adults, it is often advised not to use strong spices such as pepper and chilli until they are two years old. After all, the little ones are only just getting to know what food tastes like. Do not introduce your children to spices until later, step by step.
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