The pepperbush is originally native to the warm and humid monsoon forests of Asia, especially the coastal forests of the Indian province of Malabar. Today it is cultivated in the tropics on both sides of the equator, mainly in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia - but also in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Congo Basin, Sierra Leone, the West Indies and Brazil.
The pepper plant is an evergreen climbing shrub that is grown on high wooden poles or trees similar to our hops. The plant rises about nine meters. They are propagated in the plantations by cuttings, more rarely by seeds. The plants are cultivated up to a height of 3-5 meters. The plant begins to bear fruit in the 3rd year. It reaches its highest output with the 7th or 8th year and is then harvested with hardly sinking yields for 25 to 30 years.
The berries of Piper nigrum L. are harvested over two to three months in spring and summer. Worldwide, an average of 200,000 tons of pepper are harvested every year. Pepper is thus the most traded spice in the world.
Black pepper is the oldest form of pepper and has been known since ancient times. Today it is also the most widely used pepper variety. The berries are still picked green when unripe. They are often left to ferment for a few days. The berries are then laid on mats and dried in the sun until they are wrinkled and have a warm black-brown color.
The typical pepper smell is due to the essential oil contained in pepper. The pungent taste is mainly caused by piperine, a non-toxic substance similar to alkaloids.
Black pepper is available in whole grain, ground or ground. Black peppercorns exude a wonderfully powerful, fruity aroma. Depending on the origin, a hint of citrus can be added. The black pepper has a pronounced pungency.
In many countries pepper is used as a seasoning for meat dishes, sausages, fish, salads, broths, soups, vegetables and marinades. Many spice mixtures used in the food and luxury food industry consist to a greater or lesser extent of pepper.
Salt and pepper are an indispensable "dream team" in European cuisine and are often used as table spices. In most cases, black pepper is used for dark dishes, white pepper for light dishes. Therefore, black pepper goes very well with steak and game, for example. Freshly ground or crushed in a mortar, pepper develops its aroma particularly well.