The piper nigrum is a perennial, evergreen and climbing plant. The woody stem is covered with heart-shaped, dark green leaves. Flowering occurs in summer; the flowers are small, white and gathered in elongated locks. The fruits are small round-shaped berries that contain only one seed. Depending on the maturation of these berries, we will have different varieties of pepper. We remember the most important ones: black pepper (a variety that can be obtained when the harvest takes place when the fruits are still unripe. The fruits are then left to dry in the sun), white (the berries are picked when the fruit is ripe and is then left) macerate in water for about 7 days), the green variety (it is produced from the still unripe fruit, dried and placed in vinegar, brine or ground) and the red variety (the harvest is identical to the green variety only that the berries are harvested when they have reached the last stage of maturation.It is a method of collection little used).
The Piper (pepper) is native to India and can also reach 4 maximum 5 meters in height. The scientific name piper nigrum It is to be connected to the family from which it comes, the Piperaceae. Within this large family we can recognize about 700 species but among these, the most famous and used precisely as spice is the nigrum.
Exhibition and Climate
The pepper prefers sunny positions only partially and a particularly mild climate: the temperature must not fall below 16 ° C.
In the apartment he likes a very bright exposure, but far from the direct light that could cause burns. In the garden, in fine weather, the ideal location is under a pergola or in the shade of deciduous trees. Morning light rarely disturbs her, but let's avoid that summer afternoon.
The minimum temperature it can withstand is 5 ° C; we also keep in mind that to get the best results it is good to keep the temperature constant throughout the year. The optimal vegetative growth is obtained around 15 ° C, while flowering is stimulated reaching at least 20 ° C.
For a correct cultivation of the pepper, the destination soil must be fertile, well drained and made up of a substantial part of clayey compost. Watering must be moderate, especially during the winter season as the plant does not need abandoned water. It will be different for the summer season, where watering will be carried out more frequently. During the vegetative period it is good to fertilize the pepper plant on a monthly basis to ensure it thrives.
This vine requires a rich soil, but with excellent drainage capacity. Generally it is obtained by mixing universal soil and a little manure. The optimal pH ranges from 5.5 to 7. On the bottom we create a thick layer with expanded clay.
It can occur by sowing at a temperature not lower than 15 ° C, or by cutting. In the latter case it must be carried out in the summer, taking semi-woody cuttings.
PEPPER IN BRIEF
|Family, genus, species||Piperaceae, Piper nigrum|
|Type of plant||Climber, woody, perennial liana|
|Foliage||Persistent, dark green|
|Habitat of origin||Tropics, India and Vietnam|
|Height||Up to 4 m|
|Culture||Moderately easy, from a hot greenhouse or apartment|
|Ground||Rich in organic, soft matter|
|Soil humidity||Fresh, never dry and never wet|
|soil pH||Half shade (sun in the morning)|
|Minimum temperature||5 ° C|
|Stopping growth||18 ° C|
|use||Climbing, pot, greenhouse|
The flowers, gathered in panicles, appear from the floral armpits of the new branches. They then evolve into fruits that are green, then red, and then turn to black after drying. They can be collected at any stage of their maturation, depending on the use we want to make of them.
With the right temperatures, growth, flowering and fruiting are constant and abundant throughout the year. The plant can simultaneously bring flowers and fruits to different stages of maturation (making it also very decorative).
The green fruits reach maturity only when their color becomes dark red; only then will it be appropriate to proceed with the collection of the same.
The first crops are harvested 1 to 4 years after the start of cultivation. For long-term storage it is good to dry the fruits in the sun for about 3 days, until they are completely black, and then store them in airtight jars.
Properties of pepper
One of the reasons why pepper is often remembered and also used in the kitchen are its countless properties. The piper nigrum It is in fact rich in starch, terpenes (ie lipids that give the plant a particular aroma thanks to their essential oils), tannins and others. In addition to this, pepper is remembered for its phytotherapeutic properties. These arise from the presence of piperine, a substance that we can find in the seed of the piper nigrum and in other varieties, even if in lesser quantities.
Moreover, we remember the pepper for its high digestive power eg expectorant. He is a powerful man
antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic and also stimulant and aphrodisiac. For the followers of ayurvetic medicine, pepper is a fundamental ingredient to help increase appetite, improve digestion, solve problems related to the respiratory system and problems of anemia.
Irrigation and environmental humidity of the pepper
The soil must always be slightly damp, to obtain the best growth results. As the temperature increases it is also essential to vaporize the leaves often with water, possibly demineralized.
You can use a balanced liquid product to dilute a lot and distribute with each irrigation. The slow release granular products are also good. A slight intake of nutrients with leaf fertilization is also useful during vaporisations.
The most frequent problem is root rot, caused by excessive irrigation and / or inefficient drainage. We irrigate only when the soil is dry in depth.
Let us not be alarmed if we see black spots on the back of the leaves: they are normal crystalline formations of sugars.
Pepper - Piper nigrum: The pepper, the colors and its aromas
As we have seen, the pepper owes its colors and its different taste to the stage of maturation at the time of harvest and to any subsequent treatments.
Green pepper is harvested still immature and can only be preserved in brine. It has a delicate, slightly pungent and very fruity taste.
The white pepper at the harvest appears slightly orange, but is fermented and then removed from the outer skin. It is then dried and maintains a delicate aroma.
Black pepper is harvested when it appears red and then dried in the sun. It has a strong and spicy taste.
The berries known as "pink pepper" are on the contrary the fruit of a tree of South American origin, the Schinus molle, also cultivated in Italy as ornamental. Their flavor is much more fruity and aromatic.
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