Whole fresh or dried, ground, essential oil
piperine, safrole, beta-pinene, limonene, terpinene, alpha-pinene, various sesquiterpenes and monoterpene derivatives, including borneol, carvone, carvacrol, 1,8-cineol and linalool
White pepper consists of the seed of the pepper plant alone, with the darker-colored skin of the pepper fruit removed. This is usually accomplished by a process known as retting, where fully ripe red pepper berries are soaked in water for about a week, during which the flesh of the pepper softens and decomposes. Rubbing then removes what remains of the fruit, and the naked seed is dried. Sometimes alternative processes are used for removing the outer pepper from the seed, including removing the outer layer through mechanical, chemical or biological methods.
Ground white pepper is often used in cream sauces, Chinese and Thai cuisine, and dishes like salad, light-colored sauces and mashed potatoes, where black pepper would visibly stand out. White pepper has a slightly different flavor than black pepper, due to the lack of certain compounds present in the outer fruit layer of the drupe, but not found in
the seed. A slightly sweet version of white pepper from India is sometimes
called "whilte pepper".
Pepper gets its spicy heat mostly from the piperine compound, which is found
both in the outer fruit and in the seed. Black pepper contains between 4.6% and
9.7% piperine by mass, and white pepper slightly more than that. Refined
piperine, by weight, is about one percent as hot as the capsaicin in chili peppers.[
The outer fruit layer, left on black pepper, also contains important odor
contributing terpenes including pinene,sabinene, limonene, caryophyllene, and linalool, which give citrusy, woody, and floral notes. These scents are mostly missing in white pepper, which is stripped of the fruit layer. White pepper can gain some different odours (including musty notes) from its longer fermentation stage. The aroma of pepper is attributed to rotundone (3,4,5,6,7,8-Hexahydro-3α,8α-dimethyl-5α-(1-methylethenyl), azulene-1(2H)-one), a sesquiterpene, originally discovered in the tubers of cyperus rotundus, which can be detected in concentrations of 0.4 nanograms/L in water and in wine: rotundone is also present in marjoram, oregano, rosemary, basil, thyme, and geranium, as well as in some Shiraz wines.
Pepper loses flavor and aroma through evaporation, so airtight storage helps preserve its spiciness longer. Pepper can also lose flavor when exposed to light, which can transform piperine into nearly tasteless isochavicine. Once ground, pepper's aromatics can evaporate quickly; most culinary sources recommend grinding whole peppercorns immediately before use for this reason. Handheld pepper mills or grinders, which mechanically grind or crush whole peppercorns, are used for this, sometimes instead of pepper shakers that dispense pre-ground pepper. Spice mills such as pepper mills were found in European kitchens as early as the 14th century, but the mortar and pestle used earlier for crushing pepper have remained a popular method for centuries as well.