Black pepper is one of the most widely used spices in the world. In the United States alone, black pepper stands side-by-side with salt on most dinner tables. While it is one of the few spices nearly everyone uses with at least some regularity, most of us don’t stop to consider how this popular spice came to be passed around our tables today.
This particular spice has been one of the most widely traded in the world, dating all the way back to ancient times. It was once reserved for the wealthy, commanding rich prices in terms of its value on the world trade market.
The black pepper that is so common and familiar to us actually begins its life in the form of green berries produced by a flowering vine called Piper nigrum. While there are some other regions producing black pepper, this spice originates specifically from the Western Ghats of Kerala State in India. Incredibly, black pepper first became known and revered over 4,000 years ago to become the second most common household spice in our kitchens today.
Nowadays, the major commercial producers of pepper are India and Indonesia.