Black pepper is a seasoning produced from the fermented, dried, unripe red berries, called peppercorn, of the plant Piper nigrum. The same peppercorn, when unripe green, can be dried, or preserved in brine or vinegar, to make green peppercorn; or when ripe, dried and dehusked to make white peppercorn, for white pepper.
It is one of the most common spices in European cuisine and its descendants, having been known and prized since antiquity due to its strong flavour and its ability, critical during the Middle Ages, to conceal the taste of partially rotten meat. It is said that Alaric the Visigoth demanded from Rome a ransom of gold, silver, and pepper. The spiciness of black pepper is due to the chemical piperine.