About Spices: Part II PEPPERS


The following is not meant to be a complete analysis or guide to peppers, but is intended to be a quick summary of some facts about their differences which may help in deciding their best usage as adaptation is needed from one food recipe to another. Black pepper (Piper nigrum) Black pepper, Piper nigrum, is a flowering  vine in the family Piperaceae, a drupe,  cultivated for its fruit, which is most often dried and used as a spice/seasoning.  As is the case with all drupes, the fruits contain a single seed, is dark red when fully mature, and is known as a peppercorn when dried.   Derived from the ground peppercorns is the product described simply as pepper, or more precisely as black pepper (cooked and dried unripe fruit), green pepper (dried unripe fruit) and white pepper(unripe fruit seeds). White pepper, the seed of the pepper plant alone, after the darker skin of the pepper fruit is removed. Accomplished usually by a process known as retting, once done,  the naked seed is dried.  The process happens when fully ripe red pepper berries are soaked in water for about a week, during which the flesh of the pepper softens and decays.   It is then rubbed to remove what remains of the fruit, and the naked seed is dried.  Sometimes alternative processes are used, including mechanical, chemical or biological methods. White pepper has a slightly different flavor than black pepper.  It is often used in cream sauces, light-colored sauces and mashed potatoes, where black pepper would visibly stand out.  Chinese and Thai cuisine, and dishes like salads also are often seasoned with white pepper. White Bells These white (or albino) peppers are great for gourmet salads. It is a sweet bell pepper  and will stay white for a long time before turning red. Peruvian Whites are a variety of habaneros are not truly white, but are pale off-white to pale yellow.  Often referred to as White Lightening because of the intensely hot flavor and their firey zap.

  • The White Habanero is a brand new, lovely variety of the Habanero
  •  The beautiful chiles are approximately 2 inches long by 3/4 of an inch in diamater
  • Over 300,000 Scoville Units which is about ten times hotter than a standard Jalapeño Pepper
  •  Matures in 85 to 90 days
  • • Can be used fresh, but makes wonderful, fiery dried chile powder or ultra hot white hot sauce!

Red Peppers

  • Chili powder:  a finely ground mixture of dried chili peppers
  • Crushed red pepper:   a coarsely crushed mixture of dried chili peppers
  • Whole peppers that are red, especially:
    • Cayenne Pepper
    • Bell Pepper: has various colors including red
    • Pickled ripe peppercorns

Fun Facts about Peppers

Chili Peppers (en masse) from Nahuatl chilli is the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum of the nightshade family, Solanaceae . The term used in many  countries is just chilli without “pepper”. Chili peppers originated in the Americas.   After the Columbian Exchange, many cultivars of chili pepper spread throughout the world to be used in both food and medicine. Chili peppers arrived in Asia through Portuguese navigators ca: 16th century. India is the world’s largest producer, consumer and exporter of chili peppers

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