Pepper is a spice of wondrous variety with a wide range of colors and flavors. Black pepper has an intense heat and a strong flavor.
Black Pepper as a Spice
The different colors of peppercorns don’t just indicate different flavors, but also how hot the spice is. Green pepper has the mildest flavor, while black peppercorns have the most heat and an intense flavor. Pepper is by far the most common spice and is used in cuisines the world over. Numerous battles have been fought over its valuable fruit, known as peppercorns, and for a long time they were worth their weight in gold. The Republic of Venice has a close connection to peppercorns: The Venetian intermediary trade of pepper was hugely important right through to the 16th century.
The same rule applies to black pepper as for other types: The peppercorns are best ground fresh to get the optimal flavor. Black pepper gives a particularly intense heat when added to dishes whole and cooked for a longer time. When ground, however, pepper should not be cooked for too long, as this will cause it to lose its flavor. As a universal spice, black pepper is extremely versatile and is often paired with beef, especially steaks. The pepper should only be added to the meat once the meat has been seared, as it can become bitter if exposed to a high heat.
For a fantastic steak seasoning, toast a few peppercorns in a dry pan for a minute and roughly grind them with a mortar and pestle. Then mix the ground pepper with salt and sprinkle it over the steak after frying.
Pepper has been regarded as a luxury food in Malabar on the coast of India for over 4000 years. The peppercorns found their way to Europe in the 4th century BC. The spice was even used in cooking back in ancient Roman times. The fruits on the evergreen pepper plant are used as a spice. The plant has large leaves with long stems, and each panicle has 20–30 berry-like, pea-sized drupes. The seeds are contained inside these fruits. To produce black pepper, the fruits are harvested once they have turned slightly yellow in color and are then dried. They acquire their wrinkled, dark-brown appearance and their distinctive flavor during the fermentation process.
- Scientific Name
- Piper nigrum
- Pepper family (Piperaceae)