The pepper nigrum
The botanical term that represents it is piper nigrum. In ancient times it was well known and even for a period it became a currency of exchange. The plant includes, as often happens for botany, about 700 different species, but not all of these are considered producers of our favorite spice. Where does it come from? Like many spices from the East, the route of spices. Preferring a tropical environment, we find the plant spontaneously in China and south-western India. We are talking about wonderful territories such as Malaysia, Siam and the Philippines. For a long time in the East it was used as a currency, as well as in the Middle Ages when pepper was even used to pay rents, taxes and dowries. The reason for this custom? The high price of pepper which made it as valuable as money!
It is an evergreen and climbing perennial. It is characterized by a stem that can reach ten meters in height and by inflorescences, supported by petioles from which berries or fruits develop. The leaves of the plant are oval and deep green, and have a thick down. The petiole of the leaf is about 1-4 cm long. Pepper flowers are hermaphroditic and have two stamens with a unilocular ovary that produces only one egg, consequently only one seed. They are small and white. But let's get to our spice as we know it: the pepper fruit is a small berry, without a stalk that contains a single seed that experiences different colors, according to different ages. This makes us understand that the pepper on the market in our supermarkets has had either a particular treatment to obtain the color or, more likely, it has been harvested according to its season. The Red pepper for example, it is the stage of maximum ripeness of pepper.
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Pepper - Capsicum annum
Grown by inexperienced people
In addition to being very beautiful for the passage of colors over time, pepper is also a simple plant, especially to be grown by the inexperienced. Let's pay attention to where this plant comes from: it needs heat. Heat, light and humidity are the watchwords that we must never forget for plants that have a tropical origin. They love water, of course, but there must be no water stagnation otherwise, as with most plants, we risk rotting the roots. Let's make sure that the soil has a Ph around 5.5, and a good sun exposure. Let's go to our usual trusted nurseryman and ask for a plant to be grafted directly into the ground. Once planted, do not expect to get fruit immediately, it needs about three, four years to have the first production and even seven years for this production to be significant.
Red pepper: Customs and traditions
We have seen the species, we have studied how to cultivate it, the Red pepper as a species it must be harvested in the final ripening phase of the berry, fruit of the plant. It should be collected and dried quickly to prevent the color from being lost and then placed in brine to maintain its characteristics. The fruit contains piperine, essential oils and proteins. The smell and pungent taste of the spice derives from piperine. We analyze uses and customs, especially in the kitchen, but also in herbal preparations. In the kitchen it goes best with both meat and fish as well as being an excellent condiment for vegetables. Red pepper has a particular use because being very ripe it has a very strong flavor. It goes great with roasts and freshly chopped on other dishes, it is an excellent spice for those who love spicy flavors. Pepper can also give birth to herbal preparations. Red pepper decoction can relieve the discomfort of poor digestion, with the satellite effect of stimulating the metabolism. Alternative medicine uses pepper to treat coughs and colds. In short, an all-round plant!