Incredibly popular black pepper known as the "King of spices" and it accounts for the largest percentage in the international spice trade. It is most widely used spice all over the world. Black pepper of commerce is the mature dried berries of the woody perennial evergreen climbing vine, Piper nigrum. Pepper is cultivated over an area of 37,500 ha of Sri Lanka and Matale, Kandy, Kegalle, Kurunegala and Nuwara Eliya are accounted as major districts of cultivation.
Botanically, peppercorn belongs to the family of Piperaceae of the genus of piper; and known scientifically as Piper nigrum. It is a perennial vine and climber that requires supporting tree or pole to grow in height; thus it has similar growth characteristics that of beetle leaf plant. The pepper plant start producing small round berries after about three to four years of plantation. Technically, the pepper berry is a drupe, measuring about 5 mm in diameter, containing a single large seed at its center.
The color of peppercorns found in the markets are nothing but the same pepper fruit, which picked up from the plant at different stages of maturity and subjected to different methods of processing. In general, the peppercorns were harvested while half-matured and just about to turn red. They are then left to dry under the sun light until they become shrivel and turns black (black peppercorns). Alternatively, green peppercorns are picked while the berries still unripe and green. The white peppercorn got its name when a completely ripe berry soaked in the brine in order to remove its dark, outer skin, exposing inner white-color pepper seed.
Black peppers have a strong pungent flavor that comes to them from volatile-oils, such as piperine. In case of ground peppercorns, these volatile oils may disappear because of evaporation of these compounds if kept open in the air for extended periods.
Black Pepper : Available Grades 550GL, 525GL, 500GL, 470GL FAQ and Light Berries (300GL to 430GL)
White Pepper : Available Grades 630GL above, 575GL-600GL
Health benefits of Black Pepper
- Peppercorns contain an impressive list of plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties. Peppers have been in use since centuries for its anti-inflammatory, carminative, anti-flatulent properties.
- Peppercorns are composed of health benefiting essential oils such as piperine, an amine alkaloid, which gives strong spicy pungent character to the pepper. It also contains numerous monoterpenes hydrocarbons such as sabinene, pinene, terpenene, limonene, mercene, etc., which altogether gives aromatic property to the pepper.
- The above-mentioned active principles in the pepper may increase the gut motility as well as the digestion power by increasing gastro-intestinal enzyme secretions. It has also been found that piperine can increase absorption of selenium, B-complex vitamins, beta-carotene, as well as other nutrients from the food.
- Black peppercorns contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, calcium, zinc, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for cellular respiration and blood cell production.
- They are also an excellent source of many vital B-complex groups of vitamins such as Pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamin and niacin.
- Peppercorns are a good source of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-C and vitamin-A. They are also rich in flavonoid polyphenolic anti-oxidants like carotenes, cryptoxanthin, zea-xanthin and lycopene. These compounds help the body remove harmful free radicals and help protect from cancers and diseases.