Peppercorns, whether black, white or green, are the dried fruits of the pepper plant. One of the oldest and best-known spices in the world, pepper is indigenous to India and is rightly called the "King of Spices". It is a perennial, climbing vine indigenous to the Malabar Coast of India.
The hotly pungent spice made from its berries is one of the earliest spices known and is probably the most widely used spice in the world today. Black pepper is produced when the fruits turn yellow-orange; pepper made from these almost ripe berries has a particularly good flavor. Fully ripened pepper fruits are used to make White Pepper. White pepper retains the full pungency of black pepper, but it has an altered flavor due to partial loss of aroma compounds. White pepper is significantly more expensive than black pepper. White pepper has a hotter taste than black pepper.
It is the 3rd most added ingredient in food among the wide range of spices. India is one of the largest producers of black pepper after China and Vietnam. Black pepper has played a pivotal role in India's international trade and it is said that the Europeans came to India primarily for this very spice. A wide variety of black pepper is traded at an international level, with India as one of the top five exporters of black pepper, along with Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil and Malaysia.
Pepper tastes & smells best when ground directly on to food. For hot food it is best to add pepper well towards the end of the cooking process, this preserves the aroma. White pepper is used in white sauces rather than black pepper, which would give the sauce a speckled appearance. Green peppercorns can be meshed with garlic, cinnamon or to make a spiced butter or with cream to make a fresh and attractive sauce for various vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
Pepper stimulates the taste-buds causing reflex stimulation of gastric secretions, improving digestion and treating gastro-intestinal upsets and flatulence. Pepper calms nausea and raises body temperature, making it valuable for treating fevers and chills. Indian Ayurveda prescribes pepper for constipation, diarrhoea, earache, heart disease, hernia, indigestion, insomnia, joint pain, liver problems, tooth decay, and toothaches.