I remember when I bought my very first industrial pepper mill. I was so excited to fill it up with little black peppercorns my grandpa brought back from Vietnam. I love the smell of fresh grated pepper and love the crunch and taste it gives to whatever food I put it on. I had no idea there was other types of peppercorns until my grandpa brought back white peppercorns after another trip to Vietnam…My journey into peppercorn mania began.
There are actually three types of peppercorns- black, white, and green. All of these come from the same plant. Most peppercorns are still grown in India and other parts of Asia. The difference between them is in how they are processed.
The most widely used is the black peppercorn. Black peppercorns are completely mature peppercorns. It is harvested once the berries are ripened on the vine, and then dried out for a few days until finally it shrivels. The actual outer layer becomes dark brownish to black in color and wrinkled. Black peppercorns are the most robust flavored of the three – slightly spicy with a touch of sweet taste.
Green peppercorns are peppercorns that are not ripe. The green peppercorn is a delicate, immature berry, which is generally stored in a salt solution. Sometimes they are dried after brining to retain the green color better. It provides a refreshing taste, which is much less strong, compared to the berries in their alternative varieties. They are often used in Asian recipes.
And white peppercorns are black peppercorns which have had the outer shell removed before they are dried. Technically, they are the seed of the peppercorn. The less pungent white colored peppercorn is left to mature, and then the skin will be taken off and the berries are dehydrated. The effect is smaller sized, smoother, tan colored peppercorns having a milder taste.
White pepper is normally used for visual appeal, generally in light-colored gravies or recipes in which dark colored specks of black pepper will be too noticeable. Pink and red peppercorns are usually categorized with the above types of peppercorns. But actually, they aren’t really peppercorns at all. They are grown on a completely different type of plant. The flavor is similar to peppercorns, but much more subtle and light.
FUN STUFF TO KNOW!!!! History of Pepper
Pepper in one type or other is put to use worldwide to improve the taste of both savory as well as sweet recipes. Since it stimulates gastric juices, it provides a digestive system benefit too.
The use of peppercorns by humans goes back to ancient times. Not just for cooking, peppercorns were also used medicinally. They were often used to treat stomach ailments, heart problems, and toothaches. They have been found in embalmed Egyptian pharaohs.
Credit given to Angela Harris