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Black Pepper

Black pepper refers to the whole or ground black peppercorns we use in the kitchen and at the table for cooking and seasoning. Food that is cooked with black pepper has that signature mild kick. It is spicy enough to make the food flavorful and tasty, but mild enough to be tolerable for people who do not usually eat spicy food. Black pepper has a sharp, earthy flavor and aroma. Black pepper is pungent and spicy. The capsaicin and piperine in black pepper make it a great heating agent for food.

Black Pepper Trivia

  • Black peppers and white pepper – what’s the difference? If you are using ground pepper, you’ll sometimes notice that it is not white but white to light gray in color. This is called white pepper: black peppercorn removed from its black outer casing through soaking.
  • Jeanne Rose, in the book The Aromatherapy Book: Applications and Inhalations, explained that the mummified remains of the Egyptian king Ramses II was found with black peppercorns in his nostrils and abdomen as part of the ritual mummification process.
  • Black pepper is the most common type of spice you’ll see anywhere – in stores, at the table, and on anyone’s spice cabinet or kitchen – illustrating the significance of this spice ever since it was introduced to the world. Michael Dove, in the book The Banana Tree at the Gate: A History of Marginal Peoples and Global Markets in Borneo, wrote: “Black pepper is today the most important spice in the world in terms of usage and value, and it has been important in global trade since the first century A.D., when Pliny noted its availability in Roman markets” This is the reason why black pepper was once called “black gold.”

Black Pepper Buying Guide

You can buy whole or ground black pepper in the supermarket and grocery.

Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Piperales
Family: Piperaceae
Genus: Piper
Species: P. nigrum
Binomial name: Piper nigrum

There are different kinds of black pepper, like whole black peppers, coarse grind, cracked black peppers, extra coarse, fine, etc. There is a particular type of black pepper ideal or suitable for a particular dish or a specific use (rub, marinade, seasoning, etc.) It helps if you know what you are making so that you can buy the correct kind of black pepper during grocery shopping.

If you have a grinder, go for whole black peppercorns. You can grind them if you need ground black peppers.

Buy enough for what you need at home. There’s a 1/2 cup glass jar of ground or whole black pepper or if you need more, you can buy a gallon, even a 5-pound bulk bag, which is best if you have a restaurant or catering business and use black pepper in many of your dishes.

When you buy black pepper, it is commonly all-natural, gluten-free, Kosher Parve, and Non-GMO.

Look for black pepper labeled organic, fair trade, steam sterilized, and sustainably grown if you want to support local producers and buy pesticide-free black pepper.

Black pepper products in the market may be irradiated or not. Irradiation is a food safety process. It kills pathogens that cause food poisoning, mold spores and bacteria causing fast food spoilage, and insects. Irradiation of spices like black pepper is done through any one of the following methods: gamma rays, high-energy X rays, and high-energy electrons. Irradiated food is not radioactive. The choice is yours on which one you prefer.

Black Pepper Production & Farming in Texas

There is no full-scale commercial production of black peppercorns in Texas.

Nonetheless, black pepper is sold everywhere in Texas. Check out Walmart in Bentonville. H-E-B, an American privately held supermarket chain based in San Antonio, Texas, sells coarse ground black pepper. Texas Star Grill Shop, in Houston, sells black pepper. Bolner’s Fiesta Products, Inc. in San Antonio, sells whole black pepper.

Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals

A recent study found these chemicals present in black pepper.

  • Aldicarb
  • Bifenthrin
  • Captan
  • Carbaryl
  • Carbendazim
  • Carbosulfan
  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Cyfluthrin
  • Cyhalothrin
  • Cypermethrin
  • Dichlorvos
  • Deltamethrin
  • Diazinon
  • Dicrotophos
  • Dimethoate
  • Ethion2
  • Fenitrothion
  • Fenobucarb
  • Fenvalerate
  • Isoprocarb
  • Malathion
  • Methidathion
  • Methiocarb
  • Methomyl
  • Omethoate
  • Oxamyl
  • Permethrin
  • Phosalone
  • Pirimiphos-ethyl
  • Pirimiphos-methyl
  • Profenofos
  • Promecarb
  • Prothiofos
  • Triazophos

Black pepper may also be subjected to ethyl oxide fumigation (also known as EtO Treatment).


Vietnam is the world’s largest producer of black peppercorns. Other Asian countries also produce black peppercorns, including Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, China, and Malaysia. Brazil is also a major producer of black peppercorns.

The best black peppers are those made from peppercorns that came from Malabar and Tellicherry in India; from Sarawak in Malaysia; from Lampong in Sumatra, Indonesia; and black peppers from Cambodia.


Black pepper is sold in plastic, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, or glass bottles with a lid that serve the purpose of storage as well as a dispenser. The packaging includes cap shrink wrap for product safety and a label to make sure consumers are provided with the information they need, like ingredients, nutritional information, batch number, location of production and manufacturing, etc. You can also find black pepper sold in plastic refill packs, single-use packets, or pouches, as well as in a resealable, moisture-proof aluminum-lined stand-up plastic or paper bag with a valve zipper.

It is very common to find black peppers sold in a container that also functions as a grinder. This way, you have whole black peppercorns if you need them, and if the dish or plate requires ground black peppers, you can make ground black peppers with ease.

Enjoying Black Pepper

There are two ways to enjoy black pepper. First, use it for cooking (either to flavor the food, or as a rub for barbecues and roasted meat). You can also use it while eating, as a seasoning to food that is normally prepared without pepper. That is why it is found on the table along with salt and other condiments.


Store black pepper in a cool, dry place. The kitchen pantry is ideal. If you have a spice rack or spice cabinet, keep your black pepper there. Put it in a container with a lid and always keep the lid closed.


A great quality of black pepper is that it elevates the flavors of other ingredients, and does not overwhelm them with a blanket peppery taste (unless you overdo it of course). Black pepper is great along with citrusy and woody flavors.

Whole black peppercorns – These are excellent for making broth, stew, and soups. It is also used for pickling.

Ground black peppers – This is great to use as a rub for grilled or barbecued meat. This is also a great table condiment. Sprinkle it on your eggs, on mashed potatoes, on noodles and soups, on fried or grilled red meat, fish, and poultry, on sautéed dishes and on fresh green salad. Use it when making curries and pasta.

Black pepper, most of the time, helps bring the flavors of the ingredients together, but sometimes, black pepper is the star ingredient: think Pepper Chicken and Black Pepper Roasted Carrots.

Nutritional Benefits

Black pepper contains vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Black pepper also has calcium, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc.

Black pepper is good for digestion and intestinal health. Your immune system will also benefit from a diet that includes black pepper.

Want to know more about Banana Peppers? Click here.



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