About Peppercorns

Peppercorns

The world's most popular spice, the pepper comes in shades of black, white and green. Regardless of their color, all peppercorns come from the same plant and are harvested while still green, then processed to yield the differences in color and flavor. Pink peppercorns aren't really peppercorns at all, but the berry of an unrelated tree.

No matter what color of peppercorn you're shopping for, always buy the largest peppercorns available. They have had the advantage of extra growing and ripening time, which gives them a fuller flavor. Also, buy whole peppercorns rather than preground pepper. The dusty, dull taste of preground pepper can't come close to the rich, full flavor of pepper that's ground fresh just moments before it is used.

The very best black peppercorns come from India's Malabar Coast and have a bold, fruity fragrance with none of the sharpness found in lesser-quality peppercorns. Look for the top grade of Malabar peppercorns, labeled Tellicherry, in gourmet shops and mail-order catalogs.

Top quality white peppercorns are produced in Borneo and Sumatra. The most desirable ones have a creamy white color. Traditionally packed in a salty brine, green peppercorns are slightly milder than black or white ones. Dried green peppercorns have only recently become available and are so fragile that they can be crushed with your fingers.

Keep peppercorns in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark place. They'll stay fresh this way for up to 1 year. To coarse crack pepper, if your pepper mill doesn't adjust to make coarse cracked pepper (or if you don't have a pepper mill), place peppercorns in a small, zipper-lock plastic bag. Seal the bag and whack with a heavy skillet or crack with a rolling pin.

More Cooking Guide

Visitors Currently Online: 17