Adding condiments to food can give it different nuances and transform a common dish into a very elaborate and sophisticated one. However, the opposite can also happen, if different condiments are added indiscriminately, without taking into account the quantity, we could end up ruining the food.
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The truth is that the second situation can occur due to lack of knowledge, but also due to carelessness. Perhaps we are in a hurry, we take the spice, we put it in the food and we think that everything is fine, but when we taste it, we notice what has happened and it is already too late to do anything about it.
This usually happens, very frequently, in the case of spices that have a very strong flavor, as is the case with black pepper, an almost obligatory condiment in the world of cooking.
Pepper has a pungent flavor. But, it also adds aroma to the preparations. For that reason, it is one of the main ingredients in many foods. It is also considered the secret touch of an internationally famous chef.
Now, naturally, it may happen that, at a certain moment, we do not have pepper in our pantry, what to do in that case? The immediate response would be: go shopping. However, what do you think about the possibility of growing your own black pepper at home?
It may seem like a crazy idea to you, but the truth is that it is possible. You will do better if you live in a tropical climate zone, as it is the right one for the cultivation of this plant.
Like any plant, black pepper requires certain care. But, you have nothing to worry about. During this post I will be indicating, step by step, what you must do to plant and grow your own black pepper. Let’s see how.
Instructions for growing black pepper
As a curious fact, did you know that pepper was used, for a long time, as currency? However, among all its varieties, black pepper was, and still is, one of the most popular.
This spice comes from a tree that can measure up to 4 meters. Its berries are picked before they are ripe and boiled in water to break down their cell walls and speed up the browning process.
In addition to giving food an exquisite flavor and helping to reduce the amount of salt we use in them, black pepper has other even more important benefits. For example: it reduces cholesterol, strengthens the immune system, prevents breast cancer, helps treat vitiligo, helps fight depression, reduces wrinkles, etc.
For all this and much more, it is worth taking on the work of growing black pepper at home. But; how can you do it? Make sure to follow the instructions below:
- Find a partially shaded spot. Black pepper should be between 6 and 8 hours under sunlight. Therefore, choose a place where there is a combination of shade and sunlight during the day.
- Lay a trellis in the ground where you will plant the pepper. Since it is a vine that will grow more than 4 meters, this trellis will prevent it from being trampled.
- Plant the pepper in soil that has good water drainage. If you notice that the soil is a bit clayey, you can add compost, silt, sand or peat to make it have good drainage.
- Soak pepper seeds for 24 hours before planting. When the seeds are dry and hard, they respond less to the action of nutrients from the soil. If you want to plant cuttings, you won’t need to soak them.
- Make a hole half a centimeter deep, place the seed and cover it with soil.
- If you are going to plant more than one seed, make sure they have a distance of about 5 centimeters between them. Next, moisten the soil using a spray bottle.
This is the first phase to get black pepper plants. But what else do you need to achieve it?
What do you need to grow black pepper?
Once the plant has sprouted, it needs to be watered 2 or 3 times a week, since, to grow healthy, this plant needs moist soil. In hotter climates, you may need to water it more often.
Something that will help you determine if the soil has enough moisture is to insert your index finger into the soil. If it feels dry or hot, then you should water your plant.
Use fertilizers 2 times a month. This will help your plant stay healthy and strong. You can buy an organic fertilizer or make it yourself. Use your hand to spread it around the plant, so it can easily absorb all its nutrients.
Cover the pepper plant with mulch every 6 months. This is necessary because its root system is quite shallow. In addition, they assimilate organic nutrients well. Covering your plant with organic mulch will keep the soil moist and reduce changes in temperature during the day or night.
Harvest time will come two or three years after planting. When it reaches its full size, it will flower and form clusters of peppercorns. You’ll know the beans are ready to be picked when they change color from green to a light red. However, keep in mind that not all grains ripen at the same time.
Then you will need to put them out in the sun for 7-10 days. To do this, spread them out on a baking sheet or similar container, and allow the kernels to dry until the outer skin shrinks, turns black, and gets a hard, dry texture.
Use a pestle or pestle or pepper mill to crush the grains and get the spice for your meals. In case you don’t like ground pepper very much, you can also use whole grains in your recipes.
As you may have realized, growing black pepper is not a job from another world. You can do it without major complications and the results will be a fresh, homemade and high quality spice. But what recommendations should you take into account?
Tips for growing black pepper
Avoid overwatering the plant because instead of it growing healthy and strong, it could end up wilting quickly. In addition, excess water can rot their roots. Some signs of overwatering are yellow or brown leaves, moldy roots, water bubbles, and other similar damage.
Grow black pepper near a fence or trellis so they can get tangled up as they get taller.
This plant can be attacked by mealy bugs or lace bugs. In case you notice that they are infesting your plant, act immediately and spray it with a non-toxic insecticide.
Mealy bugs cause poor plant growth, damaged peppercorns and gray mold. Lace bugs cause peppercorns to shrivel and turn gray.
Store peppercorns in a space that is dry and cool. Preferably in a container that is hermetically sealed. They will last about 4 years. Of course, that does not mean that after that time you can no longer consume them. Rather, what will happen is that its flavor will lose strength.
To determine if the peppercorns are still potent, take one and crush it with your finger. If the smell it gives off is not so intense, then this means that they have lost flavor.
Remember that black pepper, in addition to providing smell and flavor to your meals, also has great benefits. Therefore, it is worth growing them at home. You don’t need to be an expert in gardening or botany. You just have to follow the recommendations in this post to be successful.