The first, or black pepper, is the fruit of the Piper nigrum, L. a native of the East Indies, where the berries are gathered-in the month of October, and exposed to the sun for seven or eight days. They at first green, But- afterwards assume a red colour ; and, on being divested of their external covering, they appear in the state in which the corns are. used.
The white pepper is prepared by steeping the preceding sort in sea-water, and afterwards exposing it to the heat of the sun for several days, till the rind become loose. It is then taken out, half-dried, and rubbed till the husky shell separates ; after which the white fruit-is perfectly dried. By this process, the spice is deprived of a considerable portion of its heating property, and thus rendered more fit tor various purposes, than the native black pepper.—There is, however, a kind of white pepper produced on a species of the Piper, that is far preferable to the factitious, and is little inferior to the black spice of that name.
Long pepper is said to be obtained from a third species of the same germs of trees: it is of a cylindrical form, about an inch and a half in length : its external surface appears to consist of several small grains, arranged in a spiral direction.
All the species of pepper possess a strongly aromatic smell, and a hot, pungent' taste. The long sort, being the most ; powerful, is generally employed for medicinal purposes : the black is chiefly used in culinary preparations On account of their heating and stimulating properties, however, the use of every sort requires some circumspection.
Pepper is an excellent spice,-which should always be coarsely ground, and eaten only with fat, smoked, or tough animal food; with cabbages, cucumbers, and other flatulent and cold vegetables; and likewise with fish, and all sub-stances that are. difficult to be digested.— On the Continent, this spice is highly esteemed tor its efficacy in relieving flatulency, weak or impaired digestion, and the giddiness which generally accompanies the complaint last mentioned for this purpose-, from six to ten grains are directed to be swallowed every morning, previously to taking food : such practice, however, ought to be adopted only in cases where the stomach is in a high degree vitiated; or the patient has been habituated to the free use of spices and spirituous liquors.
Pepper is permitted to be imported from the East Indies into London only; being also prohibited to be brought from Germany, and the Netherlands : it is subject to the sum of 2l. per cent, according to its value, on being deposited in the warehouses of the East-India Company ; and also to the farther duty of 9 1/2d. per lb. on being taken out for domestic consumption. Pepper-mint. See Mint.