Pepper Flavor

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
The main pungent compound in pepper is piperine, which is found in the thin fruit layer and the surface layers of the seed. Piperine is about 100 times less pungent than the capsaicin in chillis. The major aroma components in black pepper (the terpenes pinene, sabinene, limonene, caryophyllene, linalool) create an overall impression that is fresh, citrusy, woody, warm, and floral. White pepper is about as pungent as black pepper, but lacks much of its aroma due to the removal of the outer fruit layer. It often has musty and horse-stable notes, probably from the prolonged fermentation of the fruit layer (skatole, cresol).