Buy pepper online in the Gewürz Mayer Shop
Pepper is certainly the most important spice in the kitchens of the western world. The spice has been used in India for at least 3000 years, and shortly afterwards it was also available in the Mediterranean region. When people talk about pepper, they usually mean Piper Nigrum, which is available in different colours depending on when it is harvested and how it is processed. In our shop you can buy just about any pepper, but first a few details...
How is pepper classified?
Pepper can be categorised in different ways. On the one hand, according to its botanical affiliation. There are so-called true peppers, which botanically belong to the pepper plant genus, and spices that have peppery properties (usually it is the pungency) and are used like pepper, but do not belong to the pepper plants. This is called false pepper.
Real pepper includes black, white, green and real red pepper, all of which belong to the form Piper Nigrum, long pepper, such as Bengal pepper or Assam pepper, and Voatsiperifery pepper, which grows wild in Madagascar. All of them have a more or less classic pepper aroma, although the latter also have different aromas and are visually quite different from Piper nigrum.
In addition, there are a number of other spices under the collective term pepper, which are sometimes more, sometimes less reminiscent of the classic pepper aroma. These include, for example, Tasmanian mountain pepper, one of the few classic seasonings of the Australian aborigines, or the spicy-tart Malaguetta pepper from Africa. In many parts of Asia, there are relatives of the Szechuan pepper. These have a distinct citrus aroma and numb the tongue, which some people perceive as pungency, which in turn gave rise to the term pepper for these spices. Interesting representatives of this genus are the Nepalese Timut pepper, the Vietnamese Mac Khen pepper or the Japanese Sansho.
Further distinguishing characteristics of pepper
The origin or cultivation area of pepper is also responsible for different aroma spectra. While pepper from Cambodia tends to have characteristics such as elegant, floral, lemony and moderate pungency, Indian pepper has a dense, fruity and earthy aroma, and the pungency is usually pronounced. Each growing region produces pepper with different nuances, depending on the soils and climatic characteristics.
A further distinction can be made on the basis of the degree of ripeness of the berries, i.e. the time of harvest. The later pepper is harvested, the more pronounced its aroma and pungency. At the same time, the complexity of harvesting and processing is increasing, which is ultimately reflected in the price.
Green pepper and black pepper are usually harvested unripe. Both are picked green when fresh. The subsequent discoloration in brown to black tones is caused by the automatic fermentation, which is triggered by an enzyme. The pepper also matures in terms of taste and gains depth and complexity. With green pepper, the enzyme responsible for starting fermentation is destroyed. This is usually done by immersing the pepper in hot water. Green pepper has a slightly flatter taste than black pepper. The main benefit is its physical consistency. Green pepper is more brittle than its relatives and also softens again when stewed. Perfect for preparing pepper sauces. Peppers that are harvested unripe are the norm and account for well over 90% of the global harvest.
A speciality from the Indian Malabar coast is the Tellicherry pepper. This is harvested almost ripe, when the berries turn yellow-orange. Here, the individual berries must be picked at the right time or sorted after being separated from the panicles. The later harvest time results in an intense pepper aroma and a pronounced spiciness. The best quality of black pepper is the so-called genuine red pepper. For the production of this quality grade, only red, i.e. fully ripe berries are harvested. The berries are like overripe fruit and require a lot of experience from the farmers to dry them, as they tend to rot and the outer skin of the fruit separates easily from the kernel. The more pronounced the red tone of the pepper, the less fermented it is. A light red tone is either the result of very rapid drying or destruction of the enzyme as in green pepper. We prefer the dark, brown-reddish pepper, which is unfortunately very difficult to obtain. In terms of taste, real red pepper is once again a step more intense and hotter than almost ripe pepper. We recommend using these specialities only for re-peppering. They are definitely too bad to use in cooking.
Pepper can also be differentiated according to its degree of processing. The majority of all pepper varieties and qualities are harvested, dried and sorted (usually cleaned again in the recipient countries, sieved, germ-reduced, etc.). However, some peppers are processed by the farmers shortly after harvesting. White pepper, for example, is harvested fully ripe and then peeled Piper Nigrum. The de facto typical, strong to slightly musty aroma of white pepper, which many people describe with terms such as henhouse or similar, is actually an off-flavour that is due to a processing error. To separate the skin of the pepper from the kernel, the pepper is soaked in water. If the water is not running, or if the stagnant water is not sufficiently monitored and regularly replaced, the unpleasant off-flavour develops. This is very pronounced in poor qualities, hardly at all in good qualities, such as Indonesian Muntok pepper, and not at all in the most carefully processed qualities, such as white Borneo pepper or white Sri Lanka pepper.
Another example is the pepper available on the market as fermented pepper. This is an alternative method of preservation. The pepper is not preserved by removing moisture, but by adding salt. For this purpose, the berries separated from the panicle are layered with salt in barrels. The originally green pepper ferments in the salt and turns black. Some of the liquid escapes, salt enters the pepper and preserves it. This produces a soft pepper that can be eaten in one piece and, unlike peppers pickled in brine, does not have any foreign aromas. A preservation method that had almost fallen into oblivion, it was revived with Sri Lanka pepper and marketed with great success, first in Japan and then in Europe.
Finally, pepper can be differentiated according to its flavouring. In addition to numerous spice mixtures in which pepper is used as the dominant component (e.g. lemon pepper), there are cold- or hot-smoked peppers. The cold-smoked pepper (e.g. smoked pepper) has a pronounced smoky aroma of beech. The hot-smoked Bucay pepper from Ecuador, on the other hand, tastes more like it has been roasted. Warm, nutty and mild. Another example is the whiskey pepper pickled in single malt, a development of a Brandenburg spice manufacturer.