Black peppercorns are the world's most beloved spice, used for thousands of years in culinary traditions. But how much do you know about them?
In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at black peppercorns: their history and nutritional value, different varieties, plus how to incorporate them into your dishes. Plus, we'll offer some tips on storing them properly, so your peppers stay fresh longer.
What Are Black Peppercorns?
Black peppercorns are the unripe berries of the pepper plant, which grows in southern India and Indonesia. Harvested when half ripe, these berries are sun-dried until they turn black.
Black pepper has been around since ancient times as a spice and medicine. China used it to treat colds and flu, while India utilized it to aid with digestive problems. Furthermore, pepper was believed to possess anti-inflammatory properties, which allowed it to reduce pain sensations.
Pepper was first made famous in Europe around 1000 AD when Arabic traders brought it over. At first, only the wealthy could afford it, but eventually, it became widely accessible and sought-after. By the 1500s, black pepper was growing throughout much of Western Europe. England, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Germany included, with many cultivators flourishing.
Today, black pepper is one of the world's most beloved spices. It can be found in numerous cuisines like Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Italian, French, and Spanish dishes and used as a seasoning on meat or fish dishes.
Nutritional Benefits of Black Peppercorns
One tablespoon (6 grams) of black peppercorns provides:
- Calories: 7
- Carbs: 1 gram
- Minerals: Iron - 2% of Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamins: Vitamin C at 4% of Daily Value (DV)
- Antioxidants: Quercetin, luteolin, and kaempferol
- Carotenoids: Alpha-carotene and beta-carotene
- Phytonutrients: Phenolic acids, flavones, flavonols, and stearic acid
Different Varieties of Black Peppercorns
There are numerous varieties of black peppercorns, each with its distinct taste, aroma, and spiciness. The most popular type is Indian black peppercorn with its sharp, pungent flavor; other popular choices include Thai black peppercorn for a milder bite; and Brazilian black peppercorn with fruity undertones.
How to Utilize Black Peppercorns
Black peppercorns can be used as a spice and seasoning in the kitchen. They can be added to recipes for flavor or used to create an aromatic pepper mill blend. Before using these peppercorns, crush them gently just before use to release their full aroma and flavor.
Health Benefits of Black Peppercorns
Black peppercorns contain piperine, an active compound linked to various health benefits. Studies have demonstrated that piperine increases metabolism, improves nutrient absorption, and enhances cognitive function. Furthermore, black pepper has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Home Remedies Utilizing Black Peppercorns
Black peppercorns can also be home remedies for minor illnesses like colds, coughs, and indigestion. For example, a standard cough treatment involves mixing crushed black peppercorns with honey and lemon juice - this mixture helps break up congestion while soothing the throat.
Best Practices for Storing Black Peppercorns
They should be kept cool, dry, and dark for optimal storage of black peppercorns. You can store them in a glass jar with an airtight lid, or a plastic bag with the air squeezed out.
Tips for Storing Black Peppercorns
Here are some helpful hints when it comes to storing black peppercorns:
- Store them in a cool, dry, and dark location.
- Store them in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid or plastic bag with the air squeezed out.
- If your climate is particularly humid, consider storing peppercorns in the fridge.
Black peppercorns are a versatile and flavorful ingredient that can be used in many ways. If you want to add some heat to your food or reap the health benefits of black pepper, always keep some on hand. Just remember to store them properly, so they stay fresh and potent.