White & Black Pepper

The Origin of Pepper

peppersketchIn an East Kalimantan village district (kecamatan), a sub-district of one of the most prosperous Provinces of Indonesia, Kutai Kartanegara, the farming of pepper (Piper Ningrum) has been a traditional source of income for the local farmers for decades.

Pepper has been an important commodity in parts of East Kalimantan Since the 1960's. It is primarily cultivated by Javanese and Buginese transmigrants who have settled along the coastal areas of East Kalimantan. The indigenous peoples, the Dayaks and the Kutai, have long since retreated to the interior. These Javanese and Buginese Farmers were so-called 'spontaneous' transmigrates and as such did not received any government subsidy; they had to clear the forests themselves to make a living. Aside from subsistence agriculture, they have learnt to grow pepper as a cash commodity.

The average landownership is between 5-10 Ha, of which usually 1-2 ha are under cultivation.

East Kalimantan is a minor province when it comes to pepper production; Traditionally, the largest pepper producing regions are Lampung (known for its Black Pepper), South Sumatra and Bangka Belitung (well-known for its Muntok White Pepper). Nevertheless, East Kalimantan Pepper is an interesting origin, with potentials; its quality and large peppercorns and high piperine content, and less polluted water (without heavy metals; even though water sources are sometimes far off from the farm), in contrast to the Bangka Belitung water condition where the production of Tin has increasingly burdened the environment and water resources, makes this region interesting for development.

cultivation of pepper

The Cultivation of Pepper

The Pepper plant grows on poles which are made of Ulin, a type of hardwood, found in the rainforest. The hardwood can last for 20 years or longer, as poles on which pepper plants climb and grow. Two to three years after planting the pepper plants start producing flowers and then bear fruits, and continue to bear fruit for seven years, or even longer. Black pepper is considered spicier than white pepper and is the world's most traded spice. They both originate from the same berries. It is one of the most common spices added to the European cuisine!

White pepper consists of the seed of the pepper plant alone, with the outer shell of the pepper fruit removed, through a process of soaking the berries while still to the stem. This soaking process requires 8 to ten days, until the corn can be easily cleaned, and the pulp removed. Black pepper is sun-dried without this soaking process. The washed pepper kernels should be immediately dried less they start to discolor. Two days of drying should be enough to get the Kernels dry under the sun.

White pepper is sometimes used in dishes like light-colored sauces or mashed potatoes. And no egg at the breakfast table is consumed without a pinch of salt 'n pepper.