White vs Black Pepper: Difference and Comparison

Pepper belongs to the family of Piperaceae, a flowering plant. The Pepper family is very large, consisting of 3600 species in 5 genera.

Best known Pepper is called Piper nigrum because it gives more seeds or peppercorns and is used for spices. Piper nigrum includes black pepper as well as other peppers and relatives.

Characteristics of pepper are that it has small trees or shrubs and is an annual herb. Black and white peppers are its two species.

Key Takeaways

  1. White pepper is made from fully ripe pepper berries that have had their outer skin removed, while black pepper is made from unripe pepper berries that are dried and cooked.
  2. White pepper has a milder flavor than black pepper but can be spicy and earthy.
  3. White pepper is used in dishes where black specks appear undesirable, while black pepper is more commonly used in everyday cooking.

White Pepper vs Black Pepper

The difference between white pepper and black pepper is that white pepper is prepared from fully ripened berries. Black pepper is prepared from unripened berries and then is dried and cooked to make its skin dry and wrinkly. Black Pepper is very hot and pungent in flavour. In contrast, white pepper is less pungent and has an earthly flavour.

White Pepper vs Black Pepper

White pepper is a spice that is prepared from the dried fruit of the Piperaceae family. White pepper has a light taste and is milder. It is available in both whole and ground.

It is used mostly in those dishes where black pepper cannot be used, like in white sauces and potato dishes. White pepper is picked from a fully ripe tree and then fermented for about 10 days.

Then, their skin is removed, which gives an aroma of black pepper.

Black Pepper is cultivated because of its fruit called peppercorn. Then, it is dried, seasoned and used as a spice. Black pepper is mostly found in Kerala and cultivated in tropical regions.

It is available in dried, grounded and cooked peppercorns. It has been used since ancient times both as traditional medicine and as adding flavour to the food.

It is the most traded spice in the world and is the very common spice to be added to various cuisines in the world.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonWhite PepperBlack Pepper 
FlavourLight, mild and earthly flavour.Hot, strong flavour and aroma.
PeriodIt can last only for few days.It can last up to 1 year.
AppearanceUsed in Chinese and white dishes.Used in colourful dishes.
BenefitsPromotes gut health and speed up digestion.Contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
HarvestedBefore it is ripe.On fully ripped or grown.

What is White Pepper?

White pepper comes from the same plant as black pepper. It is mostly used in dishes where black pepper cannot be used. Mostly, it is used in Chinese dishes, in potato dishes and in white sauce.

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Both whole, as well as ground white pepper is used. In Thai and Portuguese cuisine, ground white pepper is used to add flavour to meat, poultry, fries, soup, etc. It has a very mild taste and flavour, which is less complex.

White pepper gets its heat from piperine extracted from the seed and the outer fruit. Due to evaporation, white pepper may lose its flavour and aroma.

So, it needs to be stored in an airtight container to maintain its spiciness and unique earthly flavour. The pepper plant is a perennial plant consisting of a woody vine.

It can be grown in soil that is not too moist and not too dry. It should also be rich in organic matter. 

White pepper is a seed that consists of ripe fruit with a thin dark colour skin removed. The process is called retting. Ripe red berries of white pepper are soaked in water until they decompose.

Then, it is rubbed, and the skin is removed and dried. It is used in salads and light dishes. It acts as a substitute for black pepper.

White pepper is different from black pepper because it lacks certain compounds present in a drupe, and it results in overall flavour.

white pepper

What is Black Pepper?

The term ‘pepper’ is derived from various languages like Sanskrit, Latin and Old English words. In the 16th century, pepper became popular as a New World chilli pepper.

Black pepper has a lot of varieties that come in different colours, also called peppercorns. From these peppercorns, peppercorn sauce is made. Black pepper is taken from a plant that is still green, drupe and unripened.

After taking drupe, it is cooked in hot water for two purposes: one is for drying, and the other is to clean them.

Once the heat goes inside the pepper, it ruptures the cell wall, which fastens the process of drying. Then, drupes are put under the sun or machine for drying.

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While drying, it shrinks into a thin, wrinkly black part. Then, it is called black peppercorn. Once peppercorns are dried, oil and spirit can be extracted from the pepper by crushing its berries.

Pepper oil is mainly used in Ayurveda as a massage oil and certain beauty products for treatment. Pepper spirit is also used for beauty products and in medicines.

According to production, Ethiopia emerged as one of the largest producers as well as exporters of black pepper, producing the world’s 34%.

Other producers in the world include Brazil, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, China, and Malaysia.

But every year, the yield and the producer may vary due to various factors like climatic conditions, disease, crop management etc.

Black Pepper has been used since ancient times in Southeast Asia. Indian cuisine has been known to use black pepper since 2000 BCE.

Black Pepper was traded as a commodity, and a lot of money came in, as it was called black gold.

black pepper

Main Differences Between White and Black Pepper

  1. White pepper has a light, mild and earthly flavour. Black pepper has a hot, strong flavour and aroma.
  2. White pepper can last only for a few days. Black pepper can last up to 1 year.
  3. White pepper is used in Thai, Portuguese, Chinese and white dishes. Black pepper is used in colourful dishes.
  4. White Pepper promotes gut health and speeds up digestion. Black pepper contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  5. White pepper is harvested when it is fully grown. Black Pepper is harvested before it is ripened into a fruit.
Difference Between White and Black Pepper
  1. https://europepmc.org/article/med/11229375
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s002170050450

Last Updated : 04 September, 2023

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8 thoughts on “White vs Black Pepper: Difference and Comparison”

  1. Adele Powell, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to share this informative piece. As someone with a high culinary interest, I found the article enlightening and engaging.

  2. This article provided a comprehensive insight into the processes of producing white and black pepper, much more than I previously knew about. Well done.

  3. I’d argue that both white and black pepper bring a unique aroma and flavor to different dishes, but I never knew about the specific processes each goes through in production. This piece was quite illuminating.

  4. I appreciate the clear comparison between white and black pepper, it has helped me understand which one to use for different dishes. Excellent work on this piece.

  5. Ironic how such small spices can have such a complex production process. This article certainly expanded my understanding of the subtleties between white and black pepper.

  6. What an enlightening and informative article! I learned so much about the differences between white and black pepper and their unique characteristics. Thank you for sharing this valuable information.

  7. No doubt, the black and white pepper have always been an interesting subject of culinary interest. I enjoyed the detailed analysis of their differences in this article.

  8. I find it fascinating how the production of white and black pepper is different yet they come from the same plant! This article broadened my knowledge of culinary spices. Thank you.


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