Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The almighty allegator pepper

Alligator pepper, which is botanically known as Aframomum melegueta is a popular herbaceous perennial plant that is originally from West Africa in countries like Nigeria, Cameroon, Liberia, Cote D’ivoire, Sierra Leone, Togo, Gambia and Ghana.With the Yoruba Name (Ataare).

 It belongs to the zingiberaceae or ginger family and thrives mainly in swampy habitats especially in the West African coasts.

The seeds of the alligator pepper are similar to the grains of paradise however alligator pepper seeds are usually sold enclosed with the pods while the grains of paradise are sold as single seeds.

The tree grows about 1 meter tall with narrow lanceolate leaves that have similar appearance with the bamboo leave.

The fruit is distinguished by its ovoid shape with reddish colour when fresh however, the colour changes to brown when dry.

The skin of the fruit has close similarity with the back of an alligator and this suggests the origin of its name.

 The fruit contains many small brownish seeds with sharp peppery, bitter, pungent and  aromatic flavour. 

The fruit encloses the seeds, which are sealed with inner thin papery whitish skin.

 It’s strong pungent, peppery taste is as a result of its aromatic ketones and high tannin content.

The Alligator pepper is very useful both spiritually and medically, Alligator pepper is a highly valuable spice as a result of its high medicinal and nutritive values; for example, the phytochemicals derived from its seeds are being used since time immemorial for treating several diseases.

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