Black Pepper not only helps us flavor our food,
but also to extract food's nutrients
Native to India, Peppercorns ("Black Gold") were once used as a form of money and were a valuable trade item. Both back pepper and white pepper come from the same plant - (Piper nigrum).
Black pepper is ground from dried, whole unripe fruit, while White pepper is ground from dried, ripe fruit that has had the outer layer removed. The black pepper and white pepper powder are both used to make medicines. The spiciness of Black Pepper is due to a chemical called piperine which also gives it its healthy properties.
Besides culinary use and use as currency, black pepper has also been used for medicinal purposes, particularly to address upper respiratory conditions. It is well known for its use as a digestive aid, to relieve gas and nausea. A recent series of studies have shown that black pepper, and in particular piperine, can improve absorption of food nutrients, as well as vitamin supplements and therapeutic drugs.
There are cell studies being conducted by the American Institute of Cancer Research, on the effectiveness of Black Pepper (and other spices) as an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer substance.
Ground pepper loses its flavor and aroma quickly, so its best to store it in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place to preserve its spiciness as long as possible. You can grind whole peppercorns immediately (using a pepper mill) before using, for optimal flavor.
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