Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)
Black Pepper has a pungent spicy flavour and is probably the best known spice.It comes from the Piper nigrum plant which is a vine that flowers and produces berries which when dried produce a hard black looking corn. These can then be used either ground or whole in nearly every way of cooking.
Black pepper is probably the most widely used spice there is and is great for seasoning many foods. Pepper can be added to cooking or used as a seasoning before you start to eat.
Antioxidants- Because these peppercorns are packed full of antioxidants due to its high contents of vitamins and minerals, it helps to reduce the risk of cancer. This is because it can help to repair damaged cells caused by free radicals.
Anti-inflammatory- These peppercorns have a good anti-inflammatory properties which are found in the compound called piperine. It can help relieve headaches and the likes of when consumed in your regular diet. Which basically means it has the ability to reduce pain naturally.
Vitamins- A, C, E, K, Choline, Folic acid, Niacin, Pyridoxine, Riboflavin, Thiamin.
Minerals- Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorous, Zinc, Potassium.
Buying black pepper is plentiful online and can be bought either whole or ground to a powder. If you decide to buy them whole then you need a pepper mill or grinder. These can also be found online and quite often come full of pepper corns ready for use.
Cooking with black pepper is fantastic and really adds depth and flavour to your cooking. It has many uses as it is such a flexible spice. It can be ground and added to cooking or used whole and cooked for long periods of time as its flavour does not diminish.
A great way to cook with whole pepper corns is in a slow cooker, using the soup as a marinade as well as cooking at the same time. I like to cook my barbecue spare ribs like this first, then finish cooking on the BBQ or in the oven. I like to serve this with a lovely salad.
Serves 4-6 people
1.5 kg baby back pork ribs cut into sections
1 bottle of barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons whole black pepper corns
1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
3-4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
Get your slow cooker and add the pork ribs, 4 tablespoons of barbecue sauce, black pepper corns, mustard seeds, coriander seeds and the bay leaves.
Now top up the slow cooker with water until the ribs are covered, add the salt and give a gentle stir. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours. You don't want the meat falling off the bone!
Once cooked remove the ribs from the slow cooker using tongs. Then all you need to do is, either place them in a roasting tin covering them with the BBQ sauce, and putting them in the oven on 200 degrees Celsius or 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes and serve.
Or, you can get a sheet of aluminium foil about 50cm long and place 1/2 the ribs in it. Cover with the BBQ sauce and fold up the foil so that no fluid escapes. Now do the same with the other 1/2 of the ribs. Then place onto the BBQ and cover with the lid and cook for 30 minutes. Unwrap and serve.