The black peppercorn is native to tropical evergreen rain forests of South Indian state, Kerala. The Pepper fruit, known as the peppercorn, is actually a berry obtained from a perennial, woody vine that climbs as high as 33 feet, requiring a supporting tree or pole to grow in height.
The different colored peppercorns all come from the same plant, just picked before they are fully ripe. The black peppercorn is red when it is about halfway through the ripening process, but turns black as it dries in the sun. Green pepper is not yet ripe and white pepper is the ripened black peppercorn that has been soaked in brine to remove the hard outer shell. Pink peppercorns are actually from a completely different plant species that is related to ragweed.
The peppercorn has anti-inflammatory properties as well as the ability to prevent or relieve gas in the gastrointestinal tract. It stimulates hydrochloric acid production in the stomach, which helps the food break down more quickly, promoting a healthy digestive system.
The outer layer of the peppercorn stimulates the breakdown of fat cells to give the body energy. Don't hold back the pepper when dieting and it could help shed the unwanted stored fat.
Pepper contains potassium, calcium, zinc, manganese, iron, and magnesium. It also helps the body absorb vitamins and minerals from the foods we eat. It also contains antioxidants that help protect the body from cancer and other diseases.
Once used as currency, this ancient spice is still highly valued today. The best way to use pepper in recipes is to leave the peppercorns whole and grind them as needed. Some of the volatile oils are lost when the pepper is ground.