Black, white and green peppercorns all come from the fruit of the same Asian tropical vine. However, they are picked at different stages and processed differently, which affects their flavor. Black peppercorns are the most pungent variety, followed by white, then green. The vine bears green berries, which may be canned in their unripe state. These green peppercorns give a pepper flavor but without much heat. They can be used in subtle ways, such as scattered over strawberries, and will not overpower poultry or fish.
If these green berries are dried rather than canned, they darken to form the familiar black peppercorns. If, instead, they are left for longer on the vine to ripen, they turn bright red. White peppercorns are made by taking the ripe, red berries and removing the skin and pulp. The inner white seeds are then dried in the sun. White pepper is more expensive and less aromatic than black, but it is preferred for use in some sauces where black pepper would look unattractive.
Pink peppercorns are the berries of a different tropical bush. They are picked ripe and then dried. Pink peppercorns have a fruity heat and spicy flavor that is reminiscent of both cinnamon and allspice, but must be used sparingly as they are toxic when eaten in large quantities. Try a smattering of pink peppercorns in pickled peaches to add attractive color to the presentation.
All dried peppercorns should be freshly ground in a mill to maintain their flavor, which is quickly lost after processing. An opened can of green peppercorns can be transferred to an airtight jar and stored for six weeks in the refrigerator.
** Asian Recipes