The piper nigrum plant
Not everyone may know that the many varieties of pepper that exist on the market, and which usually take their name from a color, are not the product of different plants, but of a single plant, namely the Piper nigrum. Piper nigrum is a plant in the family Piperaceae, native to India, where it is widely cultivated today, as well as in other tropical countries. Pepper has been used as a spice since ancient times and was so valuable that it was even used as currency. Its plant is a semi-climbing and perennial shrub, which can reach up to 4 or 5 meters in height. It has rounded and smooth branches. The leaves are long and pointed, of an intense green color and with the underside covered with hairs. The flowers are small and white and are collected in spikes up to 20 centimeters long.
varieties of pepper
The piper nigrum plant, once the flowers have opened, also produces fruits, which are small stalkless berries containing a single seed. The color of the fruits is green, just born, then it turns yellow and finally red. Its diameter, once dried, can vary between 0.3 and 0.6 centimeters. The many varieties of pepper that can be used in cooking all come from these berries, which are processed in different ways and left to ripen for varying periods of time. For example, the most common type of pepper, black pepper, is obtained from still green fruits that are left to dry for seven days. It is the hottest pepper. White pepper, on the other hand, is obtained by macerating the ripe fruit in water. Finally, the red pepper It is made by pickling very ripe berries. It’s not very spicy.Red pepper, like other existing varieties, has many beneficial properties, which is why its use is recommended not only because it gives flavor and spiciness to every dish, but also because it is good for health. Seed that in the shell of the fruit, piperine, but in addition to piperine, it also contains pinene and limonene, which in turn give it its aromatic properties. As per usual, Red pepperit is only able to release the maximum of its aroma as soon as it is pulverized: this is why it is generally served at the table with the pepper mill, to sprinkle on the dishes at the moment. In fact, it is useful as an expectorant and anti-inflammatory. It aids digestion, has antiseptic and diuretic properties, as well as mild aphrodisiac characteristics.
Red pepper: how to grow pepper at home
If you want to grow a pepper plant at home, in your own herb garden, you can try, although it is not one of the easiest activities. Being a tropical plant, it needs a very hot and humid climate, and a soil rich in organic substances. In nurseries you can find already developed seedlings or use the seeds. It is necessary to find a fairly spacious corner of the garden where to place the pierp nigrum, because the bush could also grow considerably. If the plant takes root and bears fruit, the harvest should be based on the type of pepper you want to get. To have red pepper, as we have said, you have to remove the ripe berries and put them in brine. Alternatively, black pepper is more easily obtained by drying unripe fruit.