Can you grow your own black pepper?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by watcher, Jan 15, 2010.

  1. watcher

    watcher de oppresso liber

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    I was wondering could the average person grow his own black pepper?
     
  2. Michael Kawalek

    Michael Kawalek Well-Known Member

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    I don't think so, unless you live in a tropical or semitropical area. Peppertree is not frost hardy and will die in freezing weather. You might be able to grow it in Florida or southern California though. Here's a company that can sell you pepper seed. http://www.reimerseeds.com/peppercorns-black-pepper.aspx

    Chinese peppercorn though is supposed to be hardy to zone 5-6, and I'm looking for a seed/seedling source for that. It's not pepper, but it is a seasoning that grows on a cold hardy tree.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2010

  3. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Guest

    Hawaii or southernmost Florida otherwise it's a greenhouse plant. Jene's Tropicals down to St. Pete sold the plants when last I looked.

    .....Alan.
     
  4. txquilter

    txquilter Well-Known Member

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    I never considered that. So maybe greenhouse planting would work? How large do this type of plant/tree get?

    I've got SO MUCH to learn...
     
  5. SquashNut

    SquashNut Well-Known Member

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    I started cayene plants in case I don't for some reason have black pepper.
    My concern with black pepper is the amount I would get per plant.
     
  6. TheGoodLife

    TheGoodLife Member

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    FYI -- I've used these as seasoning for roasts and I like the taste. Bare in mind that the berries on juniper bushes are in several stages of ripness. You want the darkest ones on the bush (the green ones aren't yet ripe for this though they may be the ones used for gin?).
     
  7. StaceyS

    StaceyS Well-Known Member

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    We had a peppertree in So. Cal that produced a lot!
     
  8. dancingfatcat

    dancingfatcat Well-Known Member

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    peppertrees are toxic and are not I repeat NOT to be used!!!!!! POISON
     
  9. CamM

    CamM Gefion's Plow

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    Something that may be a sorta-substitute is crushed red pepper. I use the storebought kind, but I read all you have to do is dry out red peppers and crush them with a hammer, seeds and all.
     
  10. Tracy Rimmer

    Tracy Rimmer CF, Classroom & Books Mod Supporter

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    Someone once told me that dried sumac berries, ground up, make a pretty acceptable pepper substitute, but I've never tried it.
     
  11. culpeper

    culpeper Well-Known Member

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    There seems to be some confusion here. Black pepper is NOT related to cayenne pepper or any of the other 'peppers' mentioned.

    Cayenne pepper comes from a particular species of Capsicum, (either Capsicum minimum or C. baccatum) and is one of many species better called 'chillies'. Common ones are Anaheim, Poblano, Jalapeno, Hot Thai - and there are dozens more. Products labelled 'red pepper flakes' or similar are actually chillies ie members of the Capsicum family. Not pepper at all.

    I won't confuse you further by mentioning Cubebs (False Peppercorns, Piper cubeba, which is closely related to black pepper), or Monk's Pepper (Chaste-berries, Vitex agnus-castus).

    I am not familiar with the peppertree referred to by StacyS. It is probably a member of the Schinus family, and very likely to be Schinus terebinthifolius, which is a very invasive species. This plant is poisonous to humans and animals, and is closely related to rhus trees and poison ivy (and has similar effects!).

    For the white or black or green peppercorns (which result in the spice known as pepper, as in 'pepper and salt'), you need to grow a pepper plant, Piper nigrum. It's not a tree, it's a vine. As already mentioned, it's a tropical or subtropical plant.

    Propagate by seeds, planted 1cm deep, or by cuttings. Needs plenty of water, shade, humidity and heat. It takes 3-4 years before the first fruit can be harvested. Plants are most productive when about 8 years old but will continue bearing for up to 30 years. A single stem will bear 20-30 fruiting spikes. Each spike may produce 50 or more single-seeded fruits. In the wild, plants grow in humid, tropical areas where they grow among trees, shaded by their leaves and supported by their branches. The plant needs a support such as a trellis. It will grow well when its roots are waterlogged and is suitable for planting near a pond. Hardy to 0°C although growth will retard and damage may occur below 4°C.

    Clusters of peppercorns are harvested after 3 years from planting the cuttings. For black peppercorns, harvest the berries before they are fully ripe, when they are still green, then dry. For white peppercorns, berries should be picked once they are fully ripe and the red outer shell removed, leaving a grey-white kernel. Green peppercorns can be preserved in brine before drying.

    You will not be able to grow a pepper vine from the peppercorns you buy in the supermarket. They have been treated to prevent germination. Best to buy a living plant, probably from a mail-order company such as Richters.
     
  12. naturelover

    naturelover Well-Known Member

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    They're only toxic to certain species of animals and in small children (vomiting and diarrhea) if too many of them are eaten fresh. However, they are not supposed to be eaten fresh. Birds eat them fresh without problems.

    The pepper berries are dried and crushed, used as a culinary spice in the food industry. Specialty restaurants and food industry suppliers here import them from California. They are absolutely delicious with a distinct fruity-peppery flavour and I use them myself in a variety of recipes. There's more information about them here.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schinus_molle

    Known as Peruvian Pepper (Schinus molle), also known as American pepper, Peruvian peppertree, escobilla, false pepper, molle del Peru, pepper tree, peppercorn tree, Californian pepper tree, pirul and Peruvian mastic.

    The trees are very beautiful. See pics:

    http://www.hotgardens.net/Shinus_molle_California_Pepper_tree.JPG

    fruit and leaves of California pepper tree: http://www.banana-tree.com/catalog%20images/image659.jpg

    .
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2010
  13. dancingfatcat

    dancingfatcat Well-Known Member

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    Yes, the trees are beautiful and they do grow quite large and fast. Have a wonderful peppery smell and little red/pink berries and is very messy. But, after researching it a few years ago, I decided against trying it. Thanks though :)
     
  14. txquilter

    txquilter Well-Known Member

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    Culpeper - thanks for all the information. I think as a fairly new homesteader I will be steering clear of this for now!
     
  15. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    We grow Horseradish, dry and powder. My Dw uses it as a substitute for black pepper.
     
  16. hotzcatz

    hotzcatz Well-Known Member

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    Papaya seeds have sort of a peppery flavor if you'd like to try those instead of peppervine.

    The peppervine doesn't get that big, if you had a moist warm greenhouse you could probably grow some in there. My friends let theirs grow on their treefern and it produces a lot of peppers. The peppercorns are produced in interesting hanging spirals.
     
  17. NostalgicGranny

    NostalgicGranny Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You should be able to grow it if you brought it in during the winter.