- Black pepper is the number one selling spice in America.
- Americans consumed more than 112 million pounds of pepper last year, an increase of nearly 80 percent during the past two decades.
- Most black pepper is grown in India, Indonesia, Brazil, and Vietnam.
- Piper nigrum is a tropical plant that grows in countries with a strong seasonal monsoon period followed by diminishing rain and concluding with a dry period that encourages the berries to fully ripen. There is a seven to eight-month period between the time the flower is pollinated and the harvest.
- Peppercorns grow on a vine supported by a stake or host tree. A pepper vine can grow to lengths of 100 feet. The plant requires three years to mature and produce peppercorns, but the vines will continue to be fruitful for years.
- The same pepper vine produces three different spices depending on the maturity of the pepper berry when picked and how it is dried.
- Green Peppercorn -- immature berries are soaked in a salt water brine to preserve their green color, then freeze dried
- Black Peppercorn -- mature green berries that have been harvested and sun dried for seven to 10 days
- White Peppercorn -- fully matured berries that have turned red/yellow color and have been soaked in water to remove their outer skin, leaving the white pulp of the pepper berry
Lots of good, fun, and practical info at the McCormick site. They've done a very nice job.