Piper nigrum, Schinus molle or Schinus terebinthifolius, Piper longum
Peppercorn is one of the most popular of spices. It is universal in appeal; a must have staple in any kitchen. When pepper runs low in our house I don’t know who gets to the store quicker, me or my husband, neither one of us can image eating without it. A pinch or more adds hot taste without the “heat”. We use pepper in every type of recipe imaginable.
Here’s the breakdown:
Black, green, red, and white peppercorn are all from the same flowering vine plant, Piper Nigrum. Green peppercorn is unripe black peppercorn. Red peppercorn are fully ripened berries. White peppercorn is actually the inner kernel of the ripened black peppercorn [the outer haul is removed to reveal the inner kernel].
I had no idea [until now] that pink peppercorn comes from a different plant and isn’t even peppercorns! They are the dried berries from a rose plant called Baies.
Talk about interesting, I hadn’t heard of Long pepper until I stumbled across this rare find while perusing Mountain Rose Herbs site. Long pepper also comes from a flowering vine plant that is a close relative of black, green, and white pepper.
Saving what is considered two of the finest peppers in the world for last, Black Tellicherry and Black Malabar peppercorn both are larger peppercorn in size that have a robust and less pungent flavor than other black peppercorn.
Taste, Aroma, and Pepper in Recipes
Pepper has a hot taste with out the “heat” and is considered a warming spice. The flavor of each type varies, and of them all, black peppercorn has the most sharp, pungent aroma and flavor, followed by the less pungent Tellicherry and Malabar. Green and red peppercorn is milder in flavor, and white peppercorn gives a gentle punch. Pink peppercorn, or should I say pepper berry, has a delicate, pungent, sweet and spicy flavor. According to Mountain Rose Herbs, long pepper has a taste very similar to regular black pepper but with a much hotter taste and an almost earthy, sweet overtone.
For an inconspicuous monotone look, consider color coordinating the peppercorn to the color and hue of a dish or recipe. You might use white peppercorn in light-colored dishes or soups, for example. But you don’t have to conceal the fact that pepper is there, you can use pepper to play off the color of a dish too. Pepper isn’t limited to savory dishes either. Have you ever tried fresh cracked pepper with strawberries? It’s really nice. Pepper adds a delicate warm spiciness to fruit dishes and desserts. Pink pepper berries go especially well in fruit sauces and desserts.
Freshly Cracked or Ground
I usually buy whole organic peppercorn. I prefer to buy whole instead of pre-ground pepper because for my taste, there’s nothing like freshly cracked or ground pepper. Whole peppercorn has a longer shelf life and will keep its flavor far longer than pre-ground pepper when stored properly. Whether you buy ground or whole, be sure to store your pepper in a cool, dry place.
Freshly cracked or ground pepper is the best and there are a few ways to get the job done: 1) use the side of a wide chef’s knife, 2) use a spice and pepper grinder, or 3) use a mortar and pestle. It is convenient to buy ground pepper, and that is your choice, there is certainly nothing wrong with doing so. One other great thing about grinding whole peppercorn is that you can grind it to the consistency you need.
Tip: finely ground pepper powder dissolves easily and seasons food more evenly than coarser pepper grains.
At the end of this month, one of your names will be drawn from the comment section of this post, and our wonderful sponsor Mountain Rose Herbs will send a gift assortment of peppercorn products to the winning participant. Thank you, good luck, and have fun experimenting with the variety of peppercorn!