Pepper is one of the most popular spices in the world. It is a staple in most kitchens, yet how many of us are truly familiar with it?
Origin of Pepper
Pepper comes from a plant called piper nigrum. Piper nigrum can grow up to about four metres tall and is originally native to Malabar, India. Today, the plant is grown mainly in Vietnam, India, Brazil and China.
The fruits of the piper nigrum, also known as peppercorns, are harvested twice a year. The colour of the fruits is dependent on how ripe the fruits are and how it has been processed. Varying ripeness and processes can produce peppercorns that are black, white and green.
Usage and Storage
When used in cooking, whole peppercorns are grounded so that the flavour is spread evenly. Freshly grounded peppercorns retain their flavour for much longer compared to pre-packaged grounded pepper. To preserve the flavour and aroma of whole peppercorns, it is also recommended to keep them in an airtight container that is out of the sun.
Black peppercorns are unripe berries from the piper nigrum. Contrary to its name, the berries are green when harvested.
When the piper nigrum plants reach maturity, peppercorns are stripped from the stem, after which they are soaked and dried in the sun for several days. While drying, the peppercorns will change in colour.
In terms of taste, black pepper tends to give off a spicy heat due to the chemical piperine which is found in the white center of the fruit.
White peppercorns are simply black pepper without the skin. The skin is removed, causing some of the flavour to be taken, including the piperine. Thus, the taste of white pepper tends to be milder in comparison to black pepper. Its taste can be described as more earthy and musty in comparison to its black counterpart.
Green peppercorns are freshly plucked from the piper nigrum when unripe. The green fruit is pepper in its purest state and is considered a fresh fruit, making its shelf life terribly short. However, they can be preserved by simple methods such as soaking in oil or vinegar.
In cooking, fresh green peppercorns can be found in delicate sauces that are often served with tropical seafood. The taste of green peppercorns can be described as fresh and slightly fruity in comparison to black and white peppers. It is also the mildest tasting out of all the peppercorn varieties.
Pink peppercorns are the ripe berries of the Peruvian pepper tree and are unrelated to the aforementioned peppercorns.
The berries have a much lighter flavour profile and are used mostly in desserts, sauces or even chocolate bars. It has a sweet, bright and fruity taste, with just a little bit of heat. It brings a refreshing twist in flavour to meat dishes, especially when used with black pepper in game and poultry dishes.
The process of preparing pink peppercorns are similar to the green ones, with the only difference being that the pink peppercorns are plucked when ripe.
El Avion’s Four Peppers Grinder XL
If you are on the fence on which pepper to use in your next dish, why not try all? El Avion’s Four Peppers Grinder XL is a product that unites the four pepper variations, which helps in giving your dishes a warm, strong and spicy flavour. It contains no artificial colours or flavours. Its big size also makes it convenient and easy to use in the kitchen.
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