freshly ground black pepper
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Also Known as
Kali Mirch powder, Kali Miri powder
Black pepper comes from the pepper plant, a smooth woody vine that can grow up to 33 feet in hot and humid tropical climates. They begin to bear small white clustered flowers after 3 to 4 years and develop into berries known as peppercorns. Ground peppercorns produce the spice we call pepper. Black pepper, green pepper and white peppercorns are actually the same fruit (Piper nigrum); the difference in their color is a reflection of varying stages of development and processing methods.
Black peppercorns are made by picking the pepper berries when they are half ripe and just about to turn red. They are then left to dry which causes them to shrivel and become dark in color. Black pepper is the most pungent and flavorful of all types of peppers and it is available as whole or cracked peppercorns or ground into powder.
How to select
To ensure best flavor, buy whole peppercorns and grind them yourself in a mill just before adding to a recipe. In addition to superior flavor, buying whole peppercorns will help to ensure that you are purchasing unadulterated pepper since ground pepper is oftentimes mixed with other spices. Whole peppercorns should be heavy, compact and free of any blemishes.
Just like with other dried spices, when purchasing black pepper try to select that which is organically grown since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated (among other potential adverse effects, irradiating black pepper may lead to a significant decrease in its vitamin C content.
· Add pepper that you have freshly ground in a mill at the end of the cooking process. Since it loses its flavor and aroma if cooked for too long, adding it near the end will help to preserve its flavor
· Coat steaks, skewed paneer or chicken with crushed peppercorns before cooking.
· Keep a pepper mill on your dining table so that you can add its intense spark to a host of different recipes that you prepare.
· Olive oil, lemon juice, salt and black pepper powder make a delicious salad dressing
How to store
Black pepper should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place. Whole peppercorns will keep almost indefinitely, while ground pepper will stay fresh for about three months. Pepper can also be frozen although this will make its flavor more pronounced.
· Black pepper stimulates the taste buds in such a way that an alert is sent to the stomach to increase hydrochloric acid secretion, thereby improving digestion.
· Black pepper is an excellent source of manganese, a very good source of iron and vitamin K, and a good source of dietary fiber
· Black pepper has long been recognized as a carminitive, (a substance that helps prevent the formation of intestinal gas), a property likely due to its beneficial effect of stimulating hydrochloric acid production. In addition, black pepper has diaphoretic (promotes sweating), and diuretic (promotes urination) properties.
· Black pepper has demonstrated impressive antioxidant properties.