Plants belonging to the genus of peppers (Piper) of the pepper family have more than one and a half thousand species. These are small semi-woody shrubs (vines), giving inflorescences-brushes like grapevines, on each of which 30-50 small spherical fruits-drupes are covered, covered with a thin layer of pulp – pericarp. However, from them, only 5-6 species are used as spices, growing in South Asia. They produce black, white, gray and brown peppers..
Black, white and red peppers, cubeb pepper and cayenne pepper, allspice, their main properties.
The plants from which red peppers (capsicum) are obtained – burning, semi-hot and sweet – have nothing to do with the genus of real peppers and belong to the nightshade family. The name “pepper” is also given in trade to a number of other spices, not belonging to the pepper family. Such, for example, “fragrant” peppers and pseudo-peppers (xylopia). Real peppers are black and white peppers, cubeba, long and African peppers.
Black Peppers (Piper nigrum L).
Black pepper (Piper nigrum L) homeland – South India. It grows and is cultivated in India, Indonesia, Thailand, Ceylon, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, the Caribbean, South America. Black pepper, as a spice, is prepared from green unripe fruits, which are dried whole, with the pulp of pericarp, directly in the sun. Sometimes, in order to speed up drying, the brushes of pepper fruits are immersed for several minutes in hot water or simply scald.
Dried peppers are black or black-brown wrinkled grains with a diameter of 3.5-5 mm. Black pepper is better, the harder, darker, heavier. 1000 grains of good quality black pepper should weigh exactly 460 grams.
This ratio in weight and number of black pepper grains caused its use in the Middle Ages as weights for weighing pharmacy goods and other small measures that require great accuracy. Well-dried black pepper should not turn gray in a lying position. The graying of pepper means its spoilage, complete or partial loss of its healing and aromatic properties.
Botanically the same plant as black peppers. But to obtain white pepper, spices use ripe, red pepper fruits, which are either soaked in sea or lime water so that red flesh comes out – the pericarp surrounding the seed-seed. Or fermented in heaps in the sun for 7-10 days, until the flesh itself peels off the bone.
Peppers cooked in the last way are more fragrant. After freeing the pulp, the white pepper is dried. It becomes a round smooth pea, the outside is off-white in color, and when crushed, it is slightly yellowish. The main areas of white pepper production are the countries of Indochina (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia) and Malaysia. White pepper is more valuable than black pepper. It is less spicy in taste, and more aromatic in smell, with a slightly different timbre..
Cubeba Pepper (Piper Cubeba L.).
Other names: Javanese pepper, kumukus, rinu. Liana, which gives clusters of fruits (“berries”), outwardly very similar to black pepper, but slightly larger and having at one end a characteristic narrowing, similar to a “leg”. Homeland – Indonesia (islands of Java, Bali, Sumatra, Borneo). Cultivated in Indonesia, Malaysia, Ceylon and partly on the Antilles (Central America).
Cubeb spice is obtained from fruits ripened directly on the eve of ripening (yellowed, but not yet reddened), dried in the sun. In its finished form, cubeb represents “grains” – balls 4–6 mm in diameter of dark gray or gray-brown color, with a small papilla sharpening at one pole and with a stick-leg 5–9 mm long at the opposite pole.
The grain surface is rather rough, as if covered with a convex network of wrinkles, more pronounced than black pepper. Unlike black and white pepper, cubeba grains are not monolithic, but consist of a thin (1 mm) hard but brittle shell (fruit wall), inside of which a black seed freely lies in the fetal cavity, attached only to the pole from which the stem leaves.
Another significant external difference between cubeba and black pepper is that when it is better preserved, when it is still completely “fresh”, its grains have an ash-gray color and only darken and turn brown with a further maturation. Thus, cubeba has a gray color – an indicator of good quality, and black pepper – bad. The taste of cubeba is spicy-burning and as if cooling (cooling), like mint.
The smell is pleasantly spicy with a slightly distinguishable camphor shade. Cubeba is several times hotter than black pepper, so it is used in very small doses, which usually make up a quarter of the dose of black pepper. Kubeba was widely used by krybe and for the manufacture of pepper.
Red peppers (capsicum).
The fruits of several plant species of the genus capsicum family Solanaceae, of which the following are most common as spices. Capsicum anuum L. Capsicum longum L.). Other names: red, spicy, pungent, Mexican, Spanish, Turkish, Magyar, paprika, chili. In the wild state it is perennial, in the cultivated one it is an annual herbaceous plant that produces pod fruits.
Homeland – Central America. It is cultivated in all countries with a relatively warm climate. In addition to the indicated main trade and culinary names, it has many local and agro-varietal names related to where this variety was imported from and where it was selected.
In the process of breeding in Europe, many modifications (varieties) of capsicum were developed, which differ in the appearance of the pod (long, curved, conical, pear-shaped), its size and color (red, black, green, yellow). As a spice, only red (spicy) varieties of capsicum are used, unripened having green color.
As a spice, either ripe fresh, but most often dried fruits (whole and ground) with an elongated-conical shape, slightly curved at the end, measuring 4 to 10 cm in bright red color with a smooth, shiny, like varnished surface, are used. The smell of capsicum is weak, the taste is pungent, due to the presence of a significant amount of capsaicin alkaloid in all types of capsicums.
Pods can be consumed with and without seeds, given that ground pepper, made from whole pepper and seeds, is more hot than prepared from only the outer shell, without internal partitions and seeds.
Capsicum is difficult to spray (grind, powder), especially with manual, not machine milk. Therefore, real (unmixed) market red pepper comes out coarsely ground. Thinly ground red peppers are more often mixed and usually belong to low-burning varieties (red pepper (paprika). When ground, red pepper has different shades of orange or brick red.
Cayenne pepper (Capsicum fastigiatum and Capsicum frutescens).
Other names: Indian pepper, Brazilian pepper. A small perennial shrub with short fluffy branches. Homeland – South India, Java. It is also bred in South America (Guiana, Brazil) and in some other tropical countries. It differs from capsicum primarily in the appearance of the fruit. They are small (1.5 x 0.5 cm), light orange.
When ground, cayenne pepper is pale orange, almost yellow or gray-yellow – much lighter than red capsicum. Cayenne pepper is more burning than regular red (it can even cause severe skin burns), therefore it is used in very small doses. But the main difference between cayenne pepper is that in ground form it has a specific spicy-bitter aroma, while the aroma of other capsicums is extremely weak.
Under this name there are several spices, and none of them has anything to do with real peppers – plants of the pepper family. The dominant property of all “allspice” is their increased and extremely persistent aromaticity of various shades. Below is a description of the two most common “allspice”.
Jamaican pepper (English pepper, English spice, quadruple, pimento).
Myrtle family tree. Homeland – Caribbean islands, mainly Jamaica, which gives almost 85% of the world production of Jamaican pepper, as well as Haiti, San Domingo, Cuba. As a spice, ripped shortly before full ripeness and dried in the shade fruits are used, which are ready-made “peas” twice or three times larger than the “peas” of black pepper, of uneven gray-brown color.
In powdered powdered form, Jamaican pepper has a beautiful, even dark beige color with a reddish tint. It has a strong odor, combining the smell of cloves, black pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. That is why he was called in France the name of the “Quaternity” (Katrapis).
Paradise or Malagueta (Amomum Melegueta Rosc).
Other names: amomum, “Guinean pepper”, Mallagvetian, Melegetic, manigvetian pepper. A herbaceous plant in the ginger family. Homeland – tropical West Africa, the coast of Sierra Leone and Liberia. As a spice, ripe, dry seeds are used – round, with slightly noticeable blunt ribs, shiny brownish “peas” with a shagreen surface with a shagreen surface, with a diameter of 3 mm.
They have an extremely burning taste in combination with a pungent aroma characteristic only of paradise grains. From time immemorial, the malaget under the name of “paradise grains” has been used in Africa and the Middle East, since the 13th century it began to be used as an independent or replacing black pepper spice in England, and later in Canada, USA, Australia.
Since the end of the 19th century, the use of paradise grains has declined. Now they are used in the English distillery and brewing industry to flavor strong alcoholic beverages – whiskey and brandy, as well as English ale, the main distinguishing and obligatory component of which they are.
According to the materials of the book Peppers, tinctures on pepper. Bitter, semisweet, low-degree tinctures with pepper on alcohol, vodka, moonshine distillate.