Cubeba pepper (Javanese pepper, Piper cubeba)
Plant family: Piperaceae (pepper family).
Origin: Indonesia. Most cubeb pepper is today harvested in Java and
other Indonesian islands, but also from some African countries
(Sierra Leone, Congo), cubeb pepper is exported.
Used plant part: Fruit. The stalked berries are a little bit larger
than pepper corns, having a furrowed surface. Most berries are
hollow. They are sold whole and should be crushed or ground before
Pungent and bitter with a strong terpene aroma. The aroma is
variously described dry-woody, warm-camphoraceous and spicey-peppery.
Cubeb peppercorns Use:
In Europe, the bitter and hot cubebs have been a popular substitute
for black pepper in the 16th and 17th century, but have fallen much
in disfavour since then. Their fate resembles negro pepper, which is
a spice of similar flavour and today largely unavailable on the
European market. The main reason for both spices' sudden
disappearance is probably their pronounced bitterness, which made
them inferior to black pepper as soon as the latter got imported at
reasonable price. Today, cubebs are mostly used in some North
African states, most notably in Tunisia and Morocco.