Cracked black pepper is a spice most of us use every day. It’s gained its universal popularity from its delicious, fresh taste in dishes and is known for giving almost any food the little lift it needs. It’s the most traded spice in the world and a staple in the culinary arts, food manufacturing and of course, the household. As expert suppliers of herbs and spices online, here at World at Spice, we thought we’d give cracked black pepper it’s time to shine and take a closer look at what it really brings to the table in this week’s blog.
Where Is It From?
Did you know that peppercorns are actually a tiny fruit? They’re the produce of a flowering vine known as Piper Nigrum and grown in tropical regions, native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
Black peppercorns start as green peppercorns, which are the unripe fruit of the Piper Nigrum plant. The fruits grow in long, thin bunches on the vine, almost like grapes. They’re picked, cooked and then sun dried. It’s during the drying process, that certain enzymes turn the skin a dark brown, almost black and cause the outer skin of the fruit to contract and wrinkle.
Alongside tasting delicious, this spice has numerous benefits! Cracked black pepper has been used in medicine for thousands of years, due to its high concentration of natural plant compounds.
High in Antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatories: Black pepper is rich in a plant compound called piperine, which test-tube studies have found to have potent antioxidant properties. Studies suggest that a diet high in antioxidants may help prevent or delay the damaging effects of free radicals, caused by exposure to things like pollution, cigarette smoke, and sun rays. There is also increasing evidence that chronic inflammation can be reduced by piperine, with less swelling particularly around inflamed joints.
Promotes Healthy Brain Function: Researchers have found that piperine reduces the formation of amyloid plaques. These are damaging protein fragments that first develop in the areas of the brain linked with memory and cognitive function.
Antibacterial Properties: New studies point to piperine’s antibacterial potential. Researchers have concluded that the spice could be a powerful ingredient for future therapies against both infectious diseases and foodborne pathogens. Another test found that piperine and piperlongumine (a component of the long pepper plant) may help fight multidrug-resistant pathogens.
Good Cholesterol, Gut Health Blood Sugar Levels: Cracked black pepper may help boost nutrient absorption, as well as display prebiotic-like behaviour, helping to regulate intestinal microbiota and enhance gastrointestinal health. It can also significantly increase the bodies’ high-density lipoprotein, also known as the ‘good cholesterol’. Piperine is known to improve insulin sensitivity. Meaning the hormone insulin is better able to regulate the uptake of glucose when pepper is integrated into the diet.
The Different Types
Although we’re shining the spotlight on cracked black pepper, it’s certainly worth knowing about the other kinds of pepper, the differences between them and the variety of grinds that are offered.
Black Pepper: is harvested before the berries have ripened. Sun drying turns them dark brown and wrinkly. This is the most popular pepper used. It has a robust and potent flavour.
Green Pepper: is more mild than black pepper, the berries are picked in the same way, but they’re specially handled to maintain their unripe qualities. The closer the berries are to full ripeness when picked, the better the herbaceous flavour.
White Pepper: is when the berries are picked fully ripe and then husked. The red, outer skin is removed, and the green berries are sun-dried, which lightens their colour. White pepper has a much subtler taste than black or green and is often used to favour creamier sauces.
Pink Pepper: is used for its sweeter flavour and full colour. The dried, ripe berries are decorative when combined with other peppercorns in a clear mill. They come from the South American Schinus Terebinthifolius plant.
Peppercorn Blends: A blended mix of peppercorns offer a combined, fresh flavour. Simply combine two or more types of whole peppercorns in your grinder for a complex burst of flavour that’s more fragrant than black peppercorns.
Find Your Grind
Grinding fresh peppercorns as you go will set your cuisine apart from the rest. During grinding, the volatile oils are unlocked there and then, creating intense flavour and aroma. With all whole spice, the natural oils are locked inside, almost frozen in time, retaining every drop of potency. The moment the spice is ground, the oils cast their essence into food, wherever they are added. If your spices are pre-ground, that potent flavour has already had time to seep out long before you’ve brought them into your restaurant.
Cracked black pepper comes in a variety of grinds. The larger the pieces of the berry, the longer the pepper retains its flavour in storage. Consequently, most chefs prefer to grind whole peppercorns, which retain flavour best, right before use.
Whole Peppercorns: will always offer the freshest taste. You can grind as needed in cooking or with a peppermill at the table. Freshly cracked black pepper is more potent than pepper sold ground, enhancing the taste of your cuisine. Whole peppercorns are also used without grinding in pickling, marinades, stocks, and soups.
Cracked Pepper: consists of large pieces of cracked pepper berries, which provide a burst of heat with each spoonful. Cracked black pepper is especially good on salads, pasta or pressed into raw meat that’s been rubbed with oil before cooking.
Coarse Pepper: Slightly smaller than cracked pepper, course pepper adds subtle texture, whilst retaining a more volatile aroma and flavour than finer grinds. A small dash to any protein like beef, poultry and fish will work perfectly.
Medium and Fine: Medium and fine grinds are known as the grind most suitable for table condiments, or baking. While these grinds don’t have the same impact as the coarser grinds, they are convenient for blending quickly and smoothly into food.
Get in Touch
At World of Spice, we understand the importance of authentic and traditional tasting cuisine. Our herbs, spices and seasonings online are known for their purity and potency, full of delicious flavour to give your food the edge. Our service is cost-effective and reliable; we go above and beyond for each of our customers to ensure that you get the produce you need for business.
From top notch peppercorns, bespoke blends to a choice of packaging, complete with custom labelling, our comprehensive service can help you achieve your culinary goals. For more information about our services and what we can offer you, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or feel free to call our team on 01277 633303. We look forward to hearing from you.