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A Complete Guide to Peppercorns

The spiciness is one thing, but pepper has more qualities: its unique flavors! Peppercorns are not only about adding spiciness to your food, but also to provide rich and tasty aromas.

The flavor sits in aromatic essential oils in the peppercorn husk, which is released only when grinding/milling.

This is why freshly ground peppercorns always give the best taste. However, both taste and quality can vary considerably as the pepper fruit, like wine, is affected by the local climate and its soil.

Pepper is the world’s most used spice – but surprisingly forgotten and neglected even though it is found in almost every dish!

Often pepper is only associated with heat and spiciness, but this “king of spices” has significantly more qualities. The unique pepper flavor comes from the balance between the peppers, which provide the heat, and the complex essential oils that give the aromatic flavor.

Different peppers give a different taste

The pepper is in the core and the oils are in the shell. When the hard shell is crushed, the essential oils are released quickly, which is why freshly ground peppercorns always give the best taste. It is a nice balance between heat and taste, where too much pepper can overload the taste and give a sharp taste in the mouth. Different types of pepper give different flavor profiles which makes your choice of pepper essential.

Real pepper is black, green or white

Only white, black, and green pepper are real peppers! All three are picked from the climbing plant Piper nigrum and it is thus the same berries that get different characters depending on when they are harvested and how they are then handled. Rose and spice peppers are not counted as real peppers because they do not originate from the species Piper nigrum.

Tellicherry

Tellicherry is considered the world’s best black pepper and comes from Kerala in southern India, the best pepper region in the world. The pepper plant grows best at altitudes between 2000 and 3000 meters above sea level. They need heat and monsoon rain to thrive and it takes three years for the plant to mature. The plants grow just over 1 meter high and produce one harvest per year. When the fruit is ripe, it is picked by hand by experienced farmers.

The peppercorns are large and have a clear brown color with a high content of essential oils. It is characterized by its specific aroma; it is not only hot and fiery in taste but has a completely unique, balanced aroma and taste.

Creamy White Pepper

Creamy White Pepper is considered the finest white pepper with large and uniform peppercorns with a crisp, peeled aroma. They come from Sarawak in Borneo, Malaysia. White pepper is well-ripened red pepper fruits that are placed in waterways to ferment and then washed, peeled,  and finally dried in the sun. Then they are sorted by hand to ensure that each peppercorn is the same size and is creamy white.

The white pepper has a full and warm, slightly stinging heat with hints of barn and straw. The white pepper is suitable for seafood, pork, veal and lamb, bechamel sauce, spinach, cauliflower, mayonnaise, and chips dip.

White pepper marries well with bay leaves, nutmeg, ginger, dragon, chives, capers and black pepper, green pepper, and spice.

Rosé pepper

The rose pepper has a full and floral aroma with a sweet violet flavor. Rose pepper is great for seafood, veal and lamb, chicken, light sauces, pasta dishes, dairy products, desserts, and as decoration.

Rosé pepper is the ripe fruit from a tropical tree and spice is dried seeds from immature fruit from a Central American tree.

Malabar

Malabar peppercorns are considerably smaller and with a less complex taste. It has a balanced bitterness and is clearly aromatic. This peppercorn is often used in ground and coarsely ground products.

Green pepper

Green peppercorns are the immature berries that are harvested shortly after flowering. The taste is fresh with a mild heat. Green peppercorns are either packaged in brine or cooked before being air-dried.

The green peppercorn is tart and fresh with herbaceous grassy taste and hints of chèvre. It fits well with seafood, pork, veal and lamb meat, chicken, dairy products, and light sauces.

Green pepper comes in three forms: pickled in brine or vinegar, air-dried, and lyophilized.

The green peppers are grown in India, Malaysia, Madagascar, and Brazil, but it was in Madagascar that fresh pepper was first put into vinegar. The product became very popular in France and spread from there to other parts of Europe. Steak with green pepper sauce was one of the most popular dishes in the 70s in Sweden and Europe. Green pepper goes well with tarragon, candle, chervil, parsley, garlic, mustard, white pepper, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.

Allspice

The allspice has a sweet, fruity aroma with a mild taste of carnation. The scent is reminiscent of forest, cedar, pine, and “Old Spice” (aftershave). The pepper is great for fish, beef, pork, veal, lamb, white cabbage, kale, onions, and light sauces.

Pre-ground pepper

It is always good to have pre-ground black pepper on hand. Since the main effect of the essential oil comes directly at the time of grinding, pre-ground pepper is not as aromatic as freshly ground black pepper.

How to keep pepper fresh

Whole black peppercorns last up to five years when stored in a tightly sealed container, but once ground, they quickly lose their essential oils, balancing the heat with their flavor. Buy smaller quantities, also avoid long inventory and keep a close watch on the best-before date.

In the past, India has been the main exporter of pepper, but today most of the world’s pepper comes from Southeast Asia, mainly Vietnam. Tellicherry considered the world’s finest black pepper, grows on Kerala slopes in southern India.

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