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There are several different plants and ingredients commonly known as pepper including: Pepper

  • the chili pepper (including the bell pepper)

  • several Asian spices including 'pink' peppercorns and Szechuan pepper.

  • and lastly, black, green and white peppers, which is what is commonly used in the Western world for seasoning.

Whole unground pepper berries are called peppercorns.

The black, white and green peppers are actually the same berries (peppercorns) harvested and processed at different stages of ripeness. They are very similar in flavor and texture, with the main difference being the color. Black pepper is generally used when you want it to show up in the dish (especially in a whole or 'cracked' form) and white pepper is invisible in the finished product.

Black pepper is a seasoning produced from the fermented, dried, unripe red berries of the plant Piper nigrum. (The same fruit, when unripe green, can be dried, or preserved in brine or vinegar, to make green peppercorns; or when ripe, dried and dehusked to make white peppercorns.)

It is one of the most common spices in European cuisine and its descendants, having been known and prized since antiquity due to its strong flavor and its ability, critical during the Middle Ages, to conceal the taste of partially rotten meat. It is said that Alaric the Visigoth demanded from Rome a ransom of gold, silver, and pepper.

Ground black pepper may be found on nearly every dinner table in some parts of the world, accompanied by its constant companion salt.

When used in cooking, pepper added at the beginning of a recipe makes the whole recipe taste peppery. When added at the end of a recipe parts of the recipe taste peppery and other parts don't because the pepper won't be evenly distributed among the food.

Grinding pepper releases flavorful volatile oils that evaporate after time, so the full flavor of pepper is obtained when it freshly ground onto food at the end of cooking or after serving.

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