Q:

Where do peppercorns come from?

A:

Peppercorns are the fruit of the peppercorn vine, which originated in Kerala, a province in southwest India on the Malabar Coast. Peppercorns are grown primarily in Asian regions. They are also cultivated in other parts of the world, such as Brazil and Ecuador.

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Tellicherry and Malabar peppercorns come from India, and Sarawak peppercorns come from Malaysia. Vietnam and Indonesia also produce varieties of peppercorns. In Latin, the name of the peppercorn vine is piper nigrum; but, the common name is black pepper.

The different colors of peppercorns are the result of the time of harvest and the type of processing after harvest. Black peppercorns are produced from unripe peppercorn fruit, or drupes. After harvest, they are cooked and placed in the sun or a machine to dry for several days, until they darken. White peppercorns come from ripe drupes, which are soaked in water until the red, outer hull decomposes, revealing the seed. Green peppercorns are unripe drupes that are harvested, then dried in a way that retains the green color.

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