Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Black pepper is the drupe fruit of a liana plant Piper nigrum of the Piperaceae family.

P. nigrum is native to India.  Yet it is extensively cultivated in tropical regions.

The word ‘pepper’ is derived from Tamil word ‘pippali’, of which the Latin word ‘piper’ derived.  In Malay language, pepper is referred as ‘lada’ : black pepper – ‘lada hitam’, and white pepper – ‘lada putih’.  The Malay word ‘lada’ too refers to chili pepper. 
It is known as 胡椒 in Mandarin.

Black pepper is produced from drying of green matured drupes of P. nigrum.
White pepper consists only the seed of the pepper, with the skin removed via retting.
Green pepper is green peppercorns treated with special treatment.

Pepper gets its spicy heat from the piperine compound.   

Sichuan pepper is the fruit of mostly Zanthoxylum piperitum, of the Rutaceae family.   Few other species are use as Sichuan pepper as well : Z. piperitum, Z. simulans, and Z. schinifolium.

Zanthoxylum is a genus of some 250 species of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs, native to warm temperate and subtropical area worldwide. 

The generic name is derived from Greek words ‘xanthos’, which means ‘yellow’ ; and ‘xylon’, which means ‘wood’.  It refers to a yellow dye made from the roots of some of its species.
It is known as 花椒 in Mandarin.

Sichuan pepper gets its special flavour from hydroxyl-α-sanshool.

Chili pepper is the fruits of Capsicum genus, of the Solanaceae family.  There are some 20 – 27 species, 5 of which are domesticated :  C. annum, C. baccatum, C, chinense, C. frutescens, and C. pubescens.

Chili peppers, are short-lived perennial shrubs originated in the New World Americas, spread across the Old World after the Columbian Exchange.

The generic name ‘Capsicum’ is derived from Greek word ‘kapto’, which means ‘to bite’.
The common name varies between countries : capsicum, cabai, chile, chili, chilli, chilli pepper, hot pepper, green pepper, red pepper, bell pepper, lada, paprika, 辣椒 etc.

The chili fruit contains capsaicin, which produce the strong burning sensation.


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