About White Pepper
About White Pepper
About White Pepper
White pepper, or sometimes called pepper corn, is a kind of pepper that comes from tropical berries called Piper Nigrum. It is actually made from the seed of the plant, once the fruit flesh is already stripped down. Unlike black peppers, however, the fruit from which white peppers come from are made to ripen fully before they are picked. When they are ready, the fruits (berries) are then soaked in water for several days (about eight days at least). Once the flesh has decomposed and softened, it is rubbed or scraped until the seeds come off. The seeds are then dried up until it becomes grayish or white. After which, it is sold in the market as either whole or grounded white pepper.
Compared to black pepper, white peppers do not come with a very strong smell. It is also milder but more pungent in taste than the black kind. White pepper’s flavor is sometimes described as piney. Sometimes white peppers are treated using chemicals and enhancers to make them whiter in color. These are the kinds that leave a bad taste.
Peppers in general are very spicy since they have “piperine”. But because some elements are removed from that of white peppers, the spiciness is reduced but the flavor increases.
White peppers are best used for vegetables, sauces and casseroles. Many recipes with tuna or shrimp in their ingredients also call for white peppers for that added relish and taste. White pepper has low sodium content and contains about 0.2 mg of sodium only. It is therefore ideal for those taking a low sodium diet.
Origin of White Pepper
White pepper is one of the world’s most favorite spices in history. In the ancient times, pepper was considered very valuable, that at one point, it was used as ransom money in the early fifth century Rome.
Peppers in South East Asia came as early as two thousand years past and plantations have doubled and tripled over the years. In 1930s, Brazil became a prime producer of this condiment in the West.
Pepper berries look like grapes and they grow in vine clusters that rise really tall (about ten feet or so). They are mostly found in countries like India and Indonesia. Basically, peppers berries produce pepper corns in three kinds: white, black and green and are sold whole or grounded. Black peppers are the most popular kind and they have the strongest flavor. They are processed before the pepper berry is even ripened. Green pepper corns come from berries that become immature and the seeds are processed by preserving them in brine. And finally, white pepper is processed from really ripened pepper berries, as mentioned earlier.
While black and white peppers were used since the old times, green pepper was only developed recently. Other kinds of variety were also developed, like pink pepper corns and red pepper corns. These too are soaked in vinegar and brine before the seeds are removed, dried up and sold in the market.
Peppers come from the family Piperaceae. Its botanical name is Piper Nigrum and its natural habitat is in Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India. The word is actually of Sanskrit origin and is meant to figuratively mean “energy” or “pep” when used to describe persons and situations.
Cultivation of Pepper
Pepper is grown in soil that is not very dry, but not also very dampened, although it needs proper moisture to grow well. Propagating the plant requires cutting forty centimeters of the vine, and tying this to a frame or tree. Plants surrounding the vines must be removed so as not to compete with its growth, but there must be sufficient shade and ventilation left, too. The roots of a pepper plant feeds on manure and mulch and it should be trimmed every six months.
If it's the dry season, the young plant must be watered daily. On its fifth year, a plant will then bear fruit and will do so for a period of seven years. Each stem from the vine will yield about thirty fruiting. When the fruit turns red, it is an indication that it is ready for harvest. For white pepper, the fruits are allowed to mature even further.
Trade and Economy
Pepper is the most exported and traded condiment in the international scene. Indonesia is one of the world’s major exporters of white pepper. They produce the Muntok variety. Bangka, which is a small island in Indonesia, is a very important producer of this kind of white pepper. Malaysia produces the Sawawak variety and its flavor is less distinctive than the kind Indonesia grows and exports. It is also of a lighter color than Muntok. These varieties, however, are not often exported in to Western countries or are so rare that they are priced at a premium, like the variety from South India (Malabar and Tellicherry). Brazil in South America also exports and produces their own kind of white pepper, although their variety is the mildest of all kinds.
Uses of Pepper
Pepper, the black kind, is usually found in every kitchen or dining table along with salt. The spice is a favorite because it brings out the flavor and aroma of many cuisines. It also acts as a food preserver. Pepper is a very popular addition to many European dishes. Grounded white pepper on the other hand, is very popular with Southeast Asians. They would heavily sprinkle white peppers on meat produce before they are grilled, fried or broiled.
To a great extent, white pepper is sprinkled on food to preserve the appearance. Since black pepper cannot be hidden and blended with, for instance, white sauce, it would be best to use white pepper for dishes like these. It is also better to opt for white pepper in cream soups and dishes with fish; or any kind of food where you do not want a speck of black dust to appear, but you would still like to maintain a certain flavor. White pepper is also good for marinades, salad dressing, stews, pickling and poached fish.
Pepper stimulates our body's gastric juice which is very important for proper digestion. It is also used as an alternative medicine which helps improve flatulence and intestinal upsets. In some cases, it relieves nausea and may even help reduce fever and chills.