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Whole Black Peppercorns
Black pepper is the heated beat that all spices drum to. Full of vitamins and antioxidants, it is one of the oldest and most continuously used spices in the world. Europeans used to go to war over it. You don't have to. (more info)
Originating in India, and harvested from Piper Nigrum, a flowering vine, black pepper is one of the first known culinary spices. It appears in almost every cuisine, and compliments a wide variety of flavors. It has become the most common seasoning after salt. Pepper contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which can have a synergistic effect when added to various foods, making it a perfect component to your daily diet.
Less obvious uses include tea steeped with cracked pepper for treating colds, and adding a little cracked pepper to enliven body scrubs.
For best flavor, keep whole until moments before adding it to dishes.
The dark, shrively appearance of black pepper comes from cooking the berries during the curing process. This brings out their aromatics, and tempers their warming quality.