Constituent parts: Acrid resin - Essential oil - Piperine.
Pepper, unlike the other spices, possesses a nitrogenized principle, called Piperine. Its effect on the human body is the same as that of the Theine in tea, Caffeine in coffee, and Theobromine in cocoa; consequently it is extremely wholesome.
Pepper is the berry of the pepper plant known as Piper nigrum and longum. Black pepper is the entire berry of the Piper nigrum ground; white pepper is the same berry ground without its husk or outer covering. Peppercorns are these berries whole. They are imported from Malabar, Sumatra, and Penang. They should not be too small or shrunk in drying, and should sink in water.
The Piperine is contained in the white or internal structure of the berry.
Cayenne Pepper is made from the pods of capsicum plants. This pod consists of an outer skin which contains a principle called capiscin, very powerful on the oigans of sneezing; an inner substance, and a number of small seeds. The whole pod is ground up to make Cayenne.
This pepper is more wickedly adulterated than any other article of food. The mixtures with it being red lead, Venetian red, red ochre, vermilion, and common salt. There is no possibility of defending one's self from these poisonous deceptions except by dealing with first-class tradesmen, or by getting friends who go to Africa or the West Indies to bring it home with them. We know a lady who prepares the pepper herself from the pods, and sells it, to the great benefit of her neighbours and the poor. The writer uses it herself in preference to any other.
Dr. Kitchener gives the following receipt for making it: -
"Four hundred large chilies, a fourth part of their weight in salt. Take away the stalks and put the pods into a colander, set it before the fire; they will take twelve hours to dry. Then pound them to a fine powder in a mortar with the salt. Bottle and keep. This receipt makes a quarter of a pound of Cayenne pepper.""*
We think a few dried Capsicums might be added with advantage, but unless home-made Cayenne pepper is procured, the article is scarcely ever pure. Considering its importance as a cure for one kind of sore throat, and its digestive uses, this is much to be regretted.