As one of the worlds more favored spices, a berry grown in grapelike clusters on the pepper plant that is a climbing vine native to India and Indonesia. The berry is processed to produce three basic types: black, white, and green. Black is the most common; when picken the berry is not quite ripe, then dried until it shrivels and the skin turns dark brown to black. Black is the strongest (slightly hot with a hint of sweetness) flavor of the three. Tellicherry and Lampong are among the best black peppercorns. White peppercorn, less pungent, has been allowed to ripen, then the skin is removed and the berry dried. White peppercorns are smaller, have a smoother skin and a light-tan color with a milder flavor.
What to look for:
A pepper plant is a perennial woody vine growing to four meters in height on supporting trees, poles, or trellises. It is a spreading vine, rooting readily where trailing stems touch the ground. The leaves are alternate, entire, five to ten centimeters long and three to six centimeters broad. The flowers are small, produced on pendulous spikes four to eight centimeters long at the leaf nodes, the spikes lengthening to seven to 15 centimeters as the fruit matures.
How Mother Nature loves it:
Black pepper is grown in soil that is neither too dry nor susceptible to flooding, moist, well-drained and rich in organic matter.( the vines do not do too well over an altitude of 3000ft above sea level) The plants are propagated by cuttings about 40 to 50 centimetres long, tied up to neighbouring trees or climbing frames at distances of about two metres apart; trees with rough bark are favoured over those with smooth bark, as the pepper plants climb rough bark more readily
How to use it:
Like many eastern spices, pepper was historically both a seasoning and a medicine. Long pepper, being stronger, was often the preferred medication, but both were used.
Black Pepper (or perhaps long pepper) was believed to cure illness such as constipation, diarrhea, earache, gangrene, heart disease, hernia, hoarseness, indigestion, insect bites, insomnia, joint pain, liver problems, lung disease, oral abscesses, sunburn, tooth decay, and toothaches.From many different sources from the 5th century onward also recommend pepper to treat eye problems, often by applying salves or poultices made with pepper directly to the eye. There is no current medical evidence that any of these treatments has any benefit; pepper applied directly to the eye would be quite uncomfortable and possibly damaging.