Black Pepper

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae. Dried ground pepper has been used since antiquity for both its flavour and as a medicine. Black pepper is the world’s most traded spice. It is one of the most common spices added to European cuisine and its descendants. …

Plant

The pepper plant is a perennial woody vine growing up to 4 metres (13 ft) 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, 5 to 10 cm long and 3 to 6 cm across. The flowers are small, produced on pendulous spikes 4 to 8 cm long at the leaf nodes, the spikes lengthening up to 7 to 15 cm as the fruit matures.[13] The fruit of the black pepper is called a drupe and when dried it is a peppercorn.

Pepper can be 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 3000 ft 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. Competing plants are cleared away, leaving only sufficient trees to provide shade and permit free ventilation. The roots are covered in leaf mulch and manure, and the shoots are trimmed twice a year. On dry soils the young plants require watering every other day during the dry season for the first three years. The plants bear fruit from the fourth or fifth year, and typically continue to bear fruit for seven years. The cuttings are usually cultivars, selected both for yield and quality of fruit.

A single stem will bear 20 to 30 fruiting spikes. The harvest begins as soon as one or two fruits at the base of the spikes begin to turn red, and before the fruit is fully mature, and still hard; if allowed to ripen completely, the fruit lose pungency, and ultimately fall off and are lost. The spikes are collected and spread out to dry in the sun, then the peppercorns are stripped off the spikes.[13]

Black pepper is either native to South East Asia.[14] or Southern Asia[15] Within the genus Piper, it is most closely related to other Asian species such as Piper caninum.[15] …

History

Pepper is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia and has been known to Indian cooking since at least 2 BCE.[16] Its most important source was India, particularly the Malabar Coast, in what is now the state of Kerala[17] Peppercorns were a much-prized trade good, often referred to as “black gold” and used as a form of commodity money. On the other hand, because of a peppercorn’s individual size, the term “peppercorn rent” refers to a token payment made for something that is in fact being given. …

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_pepper

Foto:

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