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Flavour develops in three stages

There are literally hundreds of types of pepper and peppercorns come in different shapes and colours. Cubeb pepper is one of the lesser-know sorts. If you eat it, the flavour develops in three stages: first there's the impression of hot spiciness. Then you taste bitterness and finally a flavour of eucalyptus. It's a good idea to use cubeb pepper sparingly and to combine it with other spices. It's mainly used in Indonesian cuisine and in Sri Lanka to spice traditional rice, fish and seafood dishes.

Valued as a medicinal plant as far back as the middle ages

The Natural Healing Association (NHV) in Germany has selected cubeb pepper (Piper cubeba) as medicinal plant of the year 2016. The selection aims to draw attention to the long experience of its effects as a medicinal plant. Cubeb pepper has been used since the middle ages to treat inflammation of the urinary tract and chronic bronchitis. Chewing the peppercorns is said to help with headaches and dizziness. The patient feels better, concentration and memory are improved. The pepper is also known for its capacity to stimulate the appetite and improve digestion.

What's worth knowing about cubeb pepper

Cubeb peppercorns are the fruit of a perennial climbing plant that can grow up to 10 metres high. It grows in Indonesia, especially on Java, Sumatra and the southern part of Borneo. The round fruit peppercorns grow on the end of a small stalk. They're harvested before they ripen and sundried. As they dry, they turn dark brownish black and become wrinkled and very hard. Cubeb pepper contains 5 to 18 percent essential oils and about 2 percent cubebin – that's the component responsible for the peppery flavour. Dried cubeb pepper is available in specialist spice shops or via the Internet. 



Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de