This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Pepper: the small, round, aromatic fruit of a trailing plant growing in Sumatra, Java, and Malabar, (Piper nigrum Linn.) The pepper-corns adhere in clutters to the stalks, without pedicles: when ripe, they are firm, not juicy, of a red colour, which changes in drying to a black.
(a) Linnaeus, Flora lapponica, p. 10.
(b) Simon Paulli, Quadripartit. botanic.
(c) Ray, Historia plant arum, i. 752.
(d) Gissler, Suenska vetenskaps acadmieus bandl. 1749.
(e) Gerard, Herbal emaculated, p. 789.
1. Piper nigrum Pharm. Lond. & Edinb. Melanopiper. Common or black pepper: the fruit gathered, probably, before perfect maturity, and dried in the sun.
2. Piper album. Leucopiper. White pepper: the ripe fruit decorticated by maceration in water. Some of the grains, as brought to us, have pieces of a dark-coloured skin still upon them.
Of these pungent hot spices, the black sort is the hottest and strongest, and most commonly made use of for medicinal as well as culinary purposes. They both seem to heat the consti-tution more than some other spices that are of equal pungency upon the palate; and from those spices they differ in this, that their pungency does not reside in the volatile parts or essential oil, but in a substance of a more fixt kind, which does not rife in the heat of boiling water.
Pepper, infused in water, impregnates the menstruum pretty strongly with its flavour, but weakly with its taste: by boiling for some time, a little more of its pungent matter is extracted, and its flavour dissipated. On collecting the fluid that exhales in the boiling, the water is found agreeably impregnated with the odour of the spice, but scarcely discovers any taste: the essential oil, which rises to the surface of the water, thin, light, and limpid, in smell strong and agreeable, is in taste mild; a drop or two impressing on the tongue only a moderate grateful warmth. On infpiffating the decoction, a part of the pungency of the pepper is found in the mucilaginous extract, and a part is retained by the pepper itself. * (a)
Rectified spirit extracts completely the active matter of the pepper. The tincture is extremely hot and fiery, a few drops setting the mouth as it were in a flame: infpiffated, it leaves an extract still more fiery; the spirit carrying off in its exhalation a little of the flavour, but nothing of the heat or pungency of the spice. The quantity of extract is nearly the same from both kinds of pepper; the spirituous amounting to about one eighth, and the watery to near one half their weight: but those of the white, like the spice in substance, are weaker than those of the black sort.