Pepper: As Old As Time
Pepper has been around for many centuries, and in fact at one time was used as currency. A man’s wealth could be determined by his stock pile of peppercorns. Pepper was used as a religious sacrifice to the gods. It grows on a woody plant, in tropical areas, which after about four years can be cultivated.
Both black and white pepper comes from the same woody vine known as a pepper plant. To obtain black peppercorns the fruit must be picked while half ripe (prior to turning red) and dried. This is how they gain their shriveled appearance. We get white pepper from picking the berries when they are very ripe; green from unripe berries. The ripe peppers are just one stage past the black pepper and are red. To create white pepper the peppercorn is soaked in brine and the outer shell removed.
Minerals Found in 1 Tbsp. of Pepper
- Amounts per Selected Serving of 1 tbsp or 1 gram
- Calcium 27.3 mg 3% DV
- Iron 1.8 mg 10%DV
- Magnesium 12.1mg 3% DV
- Phosphorus 10.8 mg 1% DV
- Potassium 78.7mg 2% DV
- Sodium 2.7g 0% DV
- Zinc 0.1mg 1% DV
- Copper 0.1mg 4% DV
- Manganese 0.4mg 18%DV
- Selenium 0.2mcg 0% DV
- Fluoride 2.1mcg 0% DV
- Total Omega-3 fatty acids 10.0mg
- Total Omega-6 fatty acids 60.6mg
The good: This food is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Vitamin C, Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin K, Iron, Copper and Manganese. From nutritiondata.com
In long ago days pepper added the needed flavor boost to foods which were past their prime along with many other benefits such as:
- Containing diuretic and diaphoretic properties aiding in removing excess fluids from the body
- Stimulating the metabolism
- Promoting a healthy digestion
- Containing antioxidant and antibacterial properties
- Being a carminative, this means helping to prevent the formation of intestinal gases and stomach irritation
- Keeping the stomach on an even keel preventing diarrhea or constipation
- Opening the sinuses
- Treating aching muscles, arthritis, chilblains, and muscle cramps
- Improving circulation
Availability and Storage
Black pepper is available whole, crushed or ground into a powder. For the best flavor purchase whole peppercorns and grind them yourself in a pepper mill just prior to eating. Whole peppercorns should be heavy, compact and free of any blemishes, according to George Mateljan, from the World’s Healthiest Food Organization. Pepper which has been irradiated will be seriously lower in vitamin C than peppercorns which have been organically grown. Whole peppercorns will keep almost indefinitely while ground pepper will only remain fresh for around 3 months. It is best stored in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool dark place. Pepper corns can even be frozen. George warns that frozen pepper has an even more potent flavor.
For the most robust flavor grind pepper from a pepper mill just prior to eating. Pepper which has been added while cooking looses its kick.
More Uses for Pepper
Reader’s Digest offers a few more suggestions for uses of pepper in the book “Extraordinary Uses for ordinary things” 2005:
- Stop a car radiator leak. According to Reader’s Digest a handful of pepper tossed into a leaky radiator will temporarily plug the leak on the way to the service area.
- Keep colors from running and keep them bright in the wash. The recommendation is to add a teaspoon of pepper to the wash load.
- Keep bugs off your buds. They suggest making a mixture of flour and pepper and dusting plants with it to deter the bugs. I have sprinkled my house plants with pepper to keep my cat out of them. She does not like the aroma.
Pepper is just one of God’s many gifts to us. It is available year around and easily accessible. Why not enjoy the benefits today?
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