Learning about Spices
What is a spice?
Why were spices important?
Sources of spices
Perfumes and Incenses 
Use of spices as aphrodisiacs
Use of spices as medicines
Culinary herbs
A spice timeline

Table of Spices
Allspice (Pimento)
Anise
Black Pepper
Cardamom
Cassia
Chile Pepper
Chocolate
Cinnamon
Clove
Coriander (Cilantro)
Cumin
Dill
Fennel
Fenugreek
Frankincense and Myrrh
Galangal
Garlic
Ginger
Horseradish
Licorice
Mustard
Nutmeg and Mace
Onion
Saffron
Sugar
Sumac
Tamarind
Turmeric
Vanilla

Contacts and Acknowledgments
Common Name BLACK PEPPER BLACK PEPPER
Click image to enlarge
Genus SpeciesPiper nigrum
FamilyPiperaceae
Origin India
Cultivated India, Indonesia, Brazil, Madagascar
  
  
  
  
  
Description Freshly ground pepper is more aromatic than packaged powders, and the ceremony of the waiter grinding the pepper over one’s entrée has some gustatory merit in addition to offering a ceremonial reminder of pepper’s ancient importance.

Most black pepper comes from India, where it is known as the king of the spices; it is also exported from Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil. It has always been one of the most popular spices, and the successful sea voyages of U.S. importers of pepper and cloves made Salem, Massachusetts, one of the richest towns in the U.S.A. at the beginning of the 19th century. Black pepper is available on most Western dining tables, but yellow pepper is preferred in cooking since it does not add dark color to foods. See a list of Major Pepper Spices. See a list of spices by Taste and Hotness.
Useful Parts Black pepper is obtained from the unripe green berries of the vine, which become black when they are dried in the sun. YELLOW (or WHITE) PEPPER is obtained from ripe red berries or by peeling off the pericarp from black peppercorns.
Medicinal Properties The main flavor is from piperine, but other essential oils, including terpenes, contribute to the aroma. Its alkaloids include the pungent tasting chavicine and piperidine.
See chemicals in spices.
Historical View “Black pepper is an aromatic carminative stimulant; and is also supposed to possess febrifuge properties. Its action as a stimulant is more especially evident on the mucous membranes of the rectum and urinary organs.”

Bentley, Robert and Henry Trimen. Medicinal Plants; being descriptions with original figures of the principal plants employed in medicine and an account of the characters, properties, and uses of their parts and products of medicinal value. London, Churchill, 1880. (WZ 295 B556m 1880)
BLACK PEPPER
Click image to enlarge

Spice Exhibit URL: http://unitproj.library.ucla.edu/biomed/spice/index.cfm

History & Special Collections
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