Prized for its rich, earthy flavor (a hot combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom) and floral bouquet, the long pepper is a spice that's has been valued since antiquity. Long pepper is a spice that is genuinely as, if not more, versatile as the ubiquitous black pepper.
Long pepper has a similar, but hotter, taste compared to its cousin - black pepper. It possesses black pepper's heat and musk, but in a less harsh, more nuanced way, tempered by sweet notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom. Its finish lingers on the tongue with a tobacco-like coolness; where black pepper stings, long pepper balms.
Long pepper is used as a spice in many vegetable pickles (achar), as well as in preserves. In appearance long pepper has several tiny berries, which merge to form a single, rod-like structure. For greatest pungency and aroma, grind or crush the rods before use. The peppers can be used whole for stocks, brines and pickling solutions. Owing to its composition, long pepper cannot be substituted by ordinary black pepper (you may try white pepper plus a little bit of mace, though). Its hot-and-sweet taste goes well with spicy cheese specialties or wine sauces.
Long pepper was highly priced during the Roman Empire - about three times the price of black pepper. In India long pepper is ground and mixed with honey and administered to relieve the symptoms of cold. Long pepper contains Piperlongumine, a compound believed to have an anti-tumor effect.