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Botanical name: Piper nigrum L.
Family name: Piperaceae
Commercial part: Fruit
Malayalam: Kurumulaku

Pepper or black gold has earned Kerala transnational fame. The Malayalam name for pepper is kurumulaku. Pepper is the berry of Piper nigrum, a climbing perennial shrub. It is usually grown in the moist regions of south India. The creeper has swollen nods with clinging roots on its either sides. It is grown on support trees and the roots help the creeper to anchor on the trees. The single-seeded fruits grow spirally on fleshy pedantries. The fruit is spherical in shape and green in colour, which turns red on ripening.

The sun dried fruit is black pepper which is in high demand in the spice market. Besides the green pepper, white pepper is also sold in the market, which is the kernel after removing the skin. The skin is the most pungent part of the seed and hence white pepper is for those who want the less fiery variety. White pepper is used in products such as mayonnaise when the black specks of black pepper are not desired.

The other Indian states that grow pepper are Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Pepper is an inevitable ingredient for several culinary delights. Besides hot taste and aroma, it is added to dishes to correct the seasoning. Pepper is a good preservative which is used in baking, pickling, canning and for preserving meat.

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