End Uses of Black Pepper

Black pepper is one of the few spices having multiple uses-in processed food industry, in kitchen, on the dining table as the only spice always supplied, in perfumery and allied industries, in traditional medicine and even in beauty care. Pepper is valued for its pungency and flavour, the former due mainly to the alkaloid piperine and the latter to the volatile oil present. The oil consists of a large number of compounds, so the flavour is the total effect of all of them. The food processing industry makes use of the various ingredients (piperine and oil) either alone or in combination. The oleoresin extracted through solvent extraction contains both pungency and flavour components and hence is used as such in processed food industry. Considerable advances have been achieved in the field of value addition of black pepper and diversification of processed pepper products. Such value added pepper products may be classified into three major groups: (i) Green pepper based products (ii) Black and white pepper based products (iii) Pepper by-products. Pruthi lists the following products.

A. Green Pepper Based Products

1. Canned green pepper in brine

2. Bottled green pepper in brine

3. Bulk packaged green pepper in brine

4. Cured green pepper (without any covering tissue)

5. Frozen green pepper

6. Freeze dried green pepper

7. Sun dried or dehydrated green pepper

8. Green pepper pickles in oil/vinegar/brine

9. Green pepper mixed pickle in oil/vinegar/brine

10. Green pepper flavoured products

11. Green pepper paste

B. Black and White Pepper Based Products

12. Black pepper powder

13. White pepper powder

14. White pepper whole

15. Pepper oleoresin

16. Pepper oil

17. Other pepper products

18. Bye-products from pepper waste

19. Other forms of utilization — medicinal, culinary, industrial

The Pepper Marketing Board of Malaysia (PMBM) has made some pioneering efforts towards product development based on pepper. Pepper do not figure much in Malaysian cuisine (infact in most oriental cuisine). The PMBM as well as the private industrial houses have come up with many innovative pepper products. In order to facilitate planning, product development of black pepper has been structured by PMBM as follows.

Pepper products

Whole black pepper in retail packs for table use, ground pepper in retail packs and dispensers.

Pepper based products

Flavoured ground pepper such as lemon pepper, garlic pepper, sauces and marinades that have pepper as the main component, pepper paste.

Spice mixtures and blends

Curry powders and spice blends for specific cuisines (such as five-spice powder, soup blends, etc.)

Pepper flavoured products

Pepper mayonnaise, pepper tofu, pepper cookies, pepper keropok (Prawn or fish crackers).

Products using pepper extracts

Pepper candy, pepper perfume, etc.

Other uses (Auxilliary uses)

Paper from pepper stalk, use of pepper stalk for growing mushrooms, etc.

Common Black Pepper Products

Ground pepper

The most widely used form of pepper is the ground pepper or pepper powder, and this is the only form in which it is used on the dining table. Ground pepper is also the only spice served along with food in flights and fast food restaurants. It is used for seasoning food before, during or after cooking. Though ground pepper is the easiest product to manufacture and market, the following factors have to be taken into account:

  • Microbiological cleanliness-freedom from bacteria and moulds should be ensured.
  • Volatile oil content should not be affected significantly during the grinding process.
  • Moisture level should be kept minimum — as high moisture will affect the storage life.
  • Particle size should be optimum to ensure free flow for the duration of its shelf life and during the use period.
  • Packaging has to be air tight and safe and retail packs must be of a suitable material that can prevent deterioration.
  • The product should be free from foreign matter, clean and packed in materials that can ensure safe shelf life.

Flavoured pepper

The Pepper Marketing Board of Malaysia (PMBM)has developed flavoured pepper powder such as lemon pepper and garlic pepper. Lemon pepper contains powder of lime or lemon, salt and pepper powder. This product can be used as table condiment or in kitchen to flavour salads, sandwiches, chicken, fish etc. Garlic pepper is a blend of pepper powder and dried dehydrated garlic powder.

Pepper sauce

PMBM has developed a pepper sauce that can be used as marinade for steaks, and other meat dishes and for stirfrying. This product uses black pepper, soybean extract, garlic and other ingredients to get a relatively mild dark sauce. Pepper is also an ingredient used extensively in a variety of related products such as the Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise and various salad dressings in sauce, where pepper is used either in ground form or as oleoresin and oil for added flavour.

Spice mixtures and blends

Spice mixtures and blends are extensively used the world over for continental and various regional cuisines and pepper is an essential ingredient in such mixtures and blends. Spice mixes meant for a variety of dishes-such as for various meat, fish, vegetable preparations-are available in the modern supermarkets. Soup mixes have also been developed which contain pepper.

Pepper flavoured products

PMBM as well as private industrial houses have developed a variety of pepper flavoured products such as pepper flavoured mayonnaise, egg tofu, savoury pepper cookies, traditional biscuits with pepper flavour, pepper flavoured prawn and fish crackers (Keropak), etc. Infact many traditional dishes and snacks can be improved with enhanced flavour and taste by the addition of pepper. Pepper flavoured vinegar and pepper salt are also excellent products for kitchen use.

Pepper in manufactured foods

The food industry is the largest user of pepper. All meat and fish products invariably use pepper for seasoning to give both pungency and flavour. A wide assortment of ready made foods-soups, pickles and a variety of other products use pepper extracts or powder. In the oriental pickles whole green pepper is often an ingredient.

Pepper beverages

Pepper is used to flavour certain beverages and liquors such as pepper tea, coffee, pepper flavoured milk, pepper drinks such as Rasala, etc. Piperine and pepper oil are added to certain liquors such as some brands of brandy to impart a pungent taste and an exotic flavour.

Pepper perfumes

In perfumery the volatile oil from pepper can be used to impart a spicy, exclusive, oriental note. Some of the brands containing pepper oil are Revlon’s “Charlie”, Christian Dior’s “Poison” and the perfumes developed in Malaysia — “Sensai” and “Amila”.

Green Pepper Products

Immature or partly mature pepper fruits are used for the manufacture of various green pepper products such as green pepper in brine, oil/vinegar, desiccated green pepper, freeze dried green pepper, green pepper paste, etc. Most of the green pepper products are used by the catering sector to be served with meat dishes such as steaks and porks and by the food manufacturing industry in a variety of food products including certain types of cheeses.

Pickled green pepper and pepper spike

Tender spikes and fruits alone or in combination with tender cardamom pickled in vinegar and salt or sugar make delicious dishes.

Green pepper paste

Green pepper paste in polypack and in bottles is common now in supermarkets. This can be used in place of pepper powder and the green pepper paste gives a more refreshing taste and flavour to the fish and meat dishes, and is a welcome addition to the arsenal of the expert cheff.

Pepper Byproducts

In Malaysia, trials have been carried out successfully for the use of pepper stalks in the manufacture of handmade paper and board. It has been reported that good quality boards can be prepared from pepper stalk having unique texture and colour pattern, suitable for special uses such as invitation and greeting cards. Pepper stalk is also shown to be a good substrate for the cultivation of oyster mushroom when grown in 1:1 mixture of pepper stalk and shredded paper.

In Malaysia the remains of the pepper processing industry-consisting mainly of the stalk and pericarp — are powdered and are being used as an organic manure (called pepper dust) either alone or in combination with other agricultural wastes, this is recommended for enriching the soil as mulch.

Pepper in traditional medicine and health care

Pepper in cooking


Just by looking at the varied uses of pepper, one realises that pepper indeed is the king of spices. No other spice — in fact very few crops — can be put into so many uses — both in the area of cooking and health care. Further efforts in product development may open up new vistas in pepper uses. At least in the orient there is a visible shift towards herbal medicines in health care and pepper, no doubt, going to play an important role in this area. One thing is definite — Pepper is going to be the king of spices for many more decades to come.


Selections from the book: “Black Pepper. Piper nigrum”. Edited by P.N.Ravindran. Series: “Medicinal and Aromatic Plants — Industrial Profiles”. 2000.