Black pepper vines grow in the East Indies, Java, and Sumatra. We are told that the best pepper grows in Malabar but that the U.S. derives their chief supply from Sumatra and Java. They bear fruit only after 3 or 4 years.
The black and white peppers are the FRUIT of the piper nigrum.
For black pepper, the BERRIES are gathered before they are fully ripe, and upon being dried in the sun, become black and wrinkled.
For the white pepper, the BERRIES from the same plant, are gathered when fully ripe, soaked in water until the external coat peels off, and then dried in the sun. The white is less pungent than the black, however the black is the more popular.
The use of pepper is centuries old. It was demanded in payment of taxes by the Greeks before the time of Christ. It was considered more valuable than gold and silver, being more difficult to secure. Early in the 10th century, English landlords taxed their tenants 1# pepper annually.
Pepper became so valuable and important that, in 1937, the N. Y. Pepper Exchange was organized.
From the time of Hippocrates, it has been employed as a condiment and as a medicine. Its culinary uses are too well-known to require explanation.
The dried, black BERRIES have an aromatic smell and a hot pungent and most fiery taste. They yield their virtues partially to water and entirely to alcohol.
Black pepper is an active stimulant and will assist in producing perspiration. It has some reputation as a gastro-intestinal stimulant to excite the languid stomach, assist digestion, and correct flatulence. It may be used as a substitute for cayenne.
It is capable of producing general arterial excitement. In hot infusion, it stimulates the circulation and tends to flow toward the surface. It assists in keeping up the temperature of the body and prevents exhaustion. Useful in congestive chills.
In the past, it was used for intermittents, however the bark was considered superior and the alcoholic X of pepper more so. In those cases of intermittents in which the stomach is not duly susceptible to the action of quinine, as in some instances of alcoholics, pepper may be found to be a useful adjuvant to the more powerful febrifuge.
The dose of pepper is from 5 to 20 grains. It may be taken in berry or powder, but is more energetic in powder form. The oil may be triturated on sugar.
Black pepper, red pepper, cayenne, and ginger maintains heat of the body longer than any other remedy. Black pepper is much used as a corrective of coldness and flatulence of a vegetable diet and is much adapted to our warm climate.
The New England Homestead once wrote: “as a moth repellent, sprinkle black pepper liberally among blankets and woolens, into suits and coat pockets before storing for the summer. Moths seem to hate it, and it is easily brushed, shaken, and aired out.”