One of the world’s most popular spices, black peppercorns are actually fruits. Flavor depends on quality—higher quality brings more consistent flavor—and darker peppercorns are more flavorful. The taste of black pepper ranges from acidic to sweetness to citrus-like to mustardy, and this diversity of tastes gives us so many options! Some common peppercorns are Lampong from Indonesia (citrusy), Tellicherry (fruity) from India, Brazilian (intense and pungent) and Vietnamese (smokey). Black pepper is the world’s most traded spice and is one of the most common spices added to cuisines around the world.
Black pepper is a flowering vine in the Piperaceae family, which is dried before it’s incorporated as a spice. It is native to India and has been used since at least 2000 BCE both for its flavor and as a folk medicine. Black pepper was believed to cure many illnesses, including constipation, insomnia, oral abscesses, sunburn and toothaches. More currently piperine, a substance found in black pepper, has been studied for its potential to increase the absorption of vitamin B-12 and other healthful compounds but the possible physiological effects remain unknown.