Food Focus: Peppercorns

Food Focus: Peppercorns

We are all familiar with black pepper as a seasoning. How many of us know that it is actually a medicinal berry that grows from a vine?

Black, white, and green peppercorns are all berries from the same vine. Black peppercorns are actually dried green peppercorns that are picked before they ripen. If they are left on the vine to ripen, the peppercorns become a bright red color. The bright red outer skin can be ripped off, leaving the white peppercorns.

White pepper is mostly used in white sauces and in recipes that would be “marred” with black specks. However, the aromatic flavor of pepper is found mostly in the skin.

Claudia Ward, in Healing Powers of Ayurvedic Spices, recommends that black pepper sauteed in ghee or olive oil for “improved brain nourishment”.  She states that: “Pepper helps carry nutrition across the blood brain barrier. Since the brain is over 50% fat, it is nourished by high quality oils”.

I have been taught that pepper stimulates the digestion, but it should be used sparingly because of its heat content. According to Ms. Ward, “Black pepper helps correct digestive disorders and its vital component called piperine strengthens immunity and the functioning of the heart and kidneys”.

Black Pepper is a good source of Vitamin C, Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin K, Iron, Copper and Manganese.




  • Sophie Grigson’s Ingredients Book, 1993, published by Mitchell Beazley
  • Healing Powers of Ayurvedic Spices, by Claudia Ward, LAc, Dipl. C.H. CAS

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