Two types of commercial pepper can be prepared from the berries
(1) Black pepper from the fully mature but unripe (green) berries.
(2) White pepper from the fully ripe (red) berries.
Only black pepper is usually produced in
The correct stage of harvesting for the preparation of black pepper is when a few of the berries in the spikes begin to change color from green to yellow or when the last berries in a spike (distal end from the stalk) cannot be chopped easily with two fingers. During harvesting, each spike is picked off the fruiting branches taking care to avoid damage to tender branches or loosening vines from the supports.
The harvested pepper spikes are heaped for 24 — 48 hours and thereafter the berries separated from them by trampling. These berries are then spread in a thin layer on mats and dried in the sun for 5 — 6 days. Due to enzymatic action, the green color of the skin of pepper changes to black during drying. If there is no bright sunshine, pepper will not dry uniformly and mould may grow on the surface giving uneven colored product.
A better method used sometimes is to steep pepper in hot water (80° — 90° C) for 2-3 minutes and then drying in the sun or preferably in hot air dryers. This treatment helps to get rid of mould and other microorganisms front the surface of the berries and quicker drying. Also a uniform glossy black color is imparted to the product. A longer shelf life and better price is obtained for the pepper produced following this method. The outturn of dry pepper to green berries is 30 — 33%.
The white pepper of commerce is prepared by removing the outer rind and the pulp below it from the berries before their drying. For this spikes with fully ripened berries are collected in gunny bags and steeped in flowing water for 7-10 days. The soft outer rind of the berries is then removed by rubbing them with hands in a bucket of water. The seeds are then cleaned by washing with fresh water. They are then dried for 3 — 4 days by which time they become somewhat dull in color. The produce is further cleaned by winnowing and again polished by rubbing with a cloth. The recovery of white pepper is about 25% of ripe berries.
Due to the two flowering seasons, green pepper availability in
Well dried pepper packed in gunny bags can be stored for sufficiently long periods.