What Is White Pepper?
Peppercorns are the berries of a tropical vine. To produce white pepper the outer skin of the ripening berries is removed and the hard core is then dried in the sun. White Pepper has a warm, pungent flavour with less aroma, but a hotter taste, than black pepper.
White Pepper Plant and Cultivation
Piper is grown mostly as woody shrubs, small trees, and vines in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. The Piper nigrum is a climbing shrub that grows to about 30 ft (9 m) tall through a system of aerial roots, but is usually pruned to 12 ft (3.66 m) in cultivation. Its flowers are slender, dense spikes with about 50 blossoms each. The berry-like fruits it produces become peppercorns; each one is about 0.2 in (5 mm) in diameter and contains a single seed. It has been with uniformly warm temperatures and with moist soil conditions. Each plant may produce berries for 40 years.
The pepper berries grow on bushes that are cultivated to heights of about 13 ft (4 m). If the berries were allowed to ripen fully, they would turn red; instead, they are harvested when they are green. Harvesting is done without any mechanical equipment. Women pick the unripened berries and transport them in large wicker baskets to drying platforms. The berries are spread on these large platforms to dry in the sun over a period of about a week and a half. In their dried state, the green berries blacken to become the peppercorns we use in pepper mills.
Alternatively, the pepper berries can be picked just as they begin to turn red. They are plunged into boiling water for approximately 10 minutes, and they turn black or dark brown in an hour. The peppercorns are spread in the sun to dry for three to four days before they are taken to the factory to be ground. This process is quicker than airdrying alone but requires the added step of the boiling water bath.
White Pepper Description
White pepper consists of only the inner seed of the pepper berry, with the pericarp removed. To make white pepper, the berry is picked fully ripe. Its outer shrunken skin is rubbed off, exposing the dried, greyish-white pepper inside. This white pepper is dried and sold commercially, in whole and powdered forms.
If white pepper is to be produced, the peppercorns are either stored in heaps after they have been boiled or they are harvested and packed in large sacks that are then lowered into running streams for seven to 15 days (depending on location). Bacterial action causes the outer husk of each peppercorn, called the pericarp, to break away from the remainder of the peppercorn. The berries are removed from the stream and placed in barrels partially immersed in water; workers trample the berries, much like stomping grapes, to agitate the peppercorns and remove any remaining husks. Some processors now use mechanical methods to grind off the outer coating to produce so-called decorticated pepper, but many exporters prefer the old-fashioned method.
Uses of White Pepper
White pepper is mostly used in light-colored dishes like white sauces and mashed potatoes for aesthetic reason. It is also common in Chinese cooking, and is also used in aromatic Vietnamese soups and pork dishes, as well as in many Swedish preparations. It can be sprinkled over eggs and a variety of cheeses for additional flavoring. It combines very well with salads, cold cuts, sandwiches, balsamic tomatoes and is mostly used as a flavoring agent.
10 Health Benefits of White Pepper
1- Pain Relieving - White pepper, or in fact all peppers contain capsaicin, a hot substance which generates heat. This fundamental property of pepper is utilized by using it in pain relieving gels and sprays. Under the impact of capsaicin, one feels the heat being generated in the affected area, due to which pain, resulting from spasms or sprains tends to lessen.
2- Arthritis Aid - The capsaicin in the pepper also has anti-inflammatory properties. It is, therefore, extremely beneficial for all those who have arthritis and suffer from muscular swelling and pain.
3- Weight Loss - Due to the presence of capsaicin, pepper helps in burning the fats inside the body and thus helps in losing weight. It is the reason most weight loss medicines and solutions contain capsaicin in them.
4- Cancer Cure - As per the research conducted at the University of Nottingham and the American Association of Cancer Research, Capsaicin in white pepper can kill some of the cancerous cells. It has been found to be especially beneficial in the cure of prostate cancer; however, further research on this topic is still being done.
5- Headache Healer - White pepper is also quite helpful in treating headaches. A pain in the head develops when the neuropeptide, substance P transmits pain to the brain. However, capsaicin can block this transmission and thus alleviate the symptoms of headache.
6- Cures Cough - Those affected by bad cough and sore throat must consume white pepper powder with a little bit of raw honey to seek relief. Raw honey and white pepper combine to have anti-biotic properties and also generate heat. Thus, they provide relief from cough and cold easily.
7- Decongestant - The heat generated by white pepper can help one clear the nasal tract and relieve nasal congestion. So much so, it can also fight nasal tract infections by cleaning the air ducts and thus help one in breathing properly.
8- Prevents Stomach Ulcers - Consumption of white pepper can kill the ulcer-causing bacteria in stomach and intestines. Therefore, it is helpful in preventing stomach ailments such as ulcers and stomach ache.
9- Blood Pressure Control - Since white pepper is rich in flavonoids, Vitamin C and A, it is quite helpful in keeping the blood pressure under control. Individuals having high blood pressure and other related issues must consider including white pepper in their daily diet.
10- Promoting Heart Health - A unique feature of white pepper is that due to its heat generating properties; it causes one to sweat a lot, leading to the expulsion of excess fluids from the body. Here is a fact that too many fluids in the body, especially around the heart, can put strain on the heart and affect its functioning adversely. It could even lead to water retention in the body, along with difficulty in breathing due to the excessive pressure on the lungs. Hence, to flush out the excess fluids from the body, it is important to consume white pepper.
Producing Countries of White Pepper
Over the last 20 years pepper exports have increased from 76,816 tons to 197,447 tons recording an annual growth rate of 5%. Today, Vietnam is actually the world’s largest producer and exporter of pepper, accounting for 34%, while India now provides 19% of this spice. It’s interesting to think that pepper was once currency and now pepper and pepper grinders are items found in just about every home.
Consuming Countries of White Pepper
United States is the number one importer of pepper in the world. United States imported more pepper than any one country exported. United States bought a total of 18% of the world’s pepper in 2009.
The next largest buyer of pepper was Germany, who bought less than half that of the United States. Countries like Canada, Russia and Japan who preferred pepper from India have now switched over to other import hubs such as Vietnam.
Recipe for Beverages with White Pepper
Watermelon White Pepper ShrubIngredients
A: 1⁄2 large watermelon, blended (about 8 1/2 cups of liquid)
B: 8 cups granulated sugar (or to taste)
C: 1 ounce white pepper
D: 4 1⁄4 cups champagne vinegar
A: Puree flesh of the watermelon in a blender.
B: Pour the flesh into a large bowl, then add sugar and white pepper.
C: Cover and place in your refrigerator for 2 days. (You’ll begin to notice the liquid separating from the fruit.).
D: Strain out solids; add champagne vinegar.
E: Store, covered, in large mason jars or bottles leaving at least half an inch of head room for 1-2 weeks. (The longer the shrub ages, the more mellowed out the flavors should become. Just keep it in your refrigerator).
Recipe for Cooking with White Pepper
Potato latkes (Potato Pancakes)Ingredients
A: 1kg/2lb 4oz old or baking potatoes, peeled, soaked in cold water until needed
B: 1 onion, peeled
C: 25g/1oz plain flour or fine matzoh meal
D: 1 free-range egg, beaten
E: salt and freshly ground white pepper
F: olive or vegetable oil, for frying
A: For the latkes, finely grate the potatoes and onion and mix together.
B: Place the grated potato and onion into a colander and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Or roll up the potato and onion in a clean kitchen tea towel and wring well to extract the liquid.
C: Mix the potato and onion with the flour, egg and salt and freshly ground white pepper.
D: Heat the oil in a frying pan until moderately hot and then place heaped tablespoons of the mixture into the pan to shallow-fry. Lower the heat to medium, flatten each latke with the back of a spoon and fry for about five minutes on each side, turning over when the edges turn golden-brown. If the heat is too high, the latkes will become dark-brown on the outside before they are cooked inside.
E: Remove the latkes from the pan and drain on brown paper bags (they absorb the oil, leave the latkes crisper and the latkes won't stick to the paper).
F: Serve the latkes hot with soured cream and apple sauce.
Recipe for Dessert with White Pepper
Marinated Strawberries with Mint and Clotted CreamIngredients
A: 400g/14oz strawberries, washed and quartered
B: 55g/2oz caster sugar
C: ½ lemon, juice only
D: pinch of ground white pepper
E: 1 tsp finely chopped fresh mint
F: clotted cream, to serve
A: Place half of the strawberries into a large bowl with most of the sugar and all of the lemon juice. Using a fork, mash well. Mix the remaining quartered strawberries into the mashed strawberry mix.
B: Season the mixture with the pepper and chopped mint and adjust the sweetness to taste with the remaining sugar. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.
C: To serve, place the strawberries into bowls and spoon over clotted cream.