All you need to know about … peppercorns
Peppercorns are a tiny fruit from a flowering vine known as piper nigrum. The fruits are called drupes and they grow in clusters on the vine. Pepper is one of the most widely used spices in cooking; think about it and you’ll realise that nearly every savoury recipe lists pepper as an ingredient. Pepper is loved for its ability to bring a little kick of heat and texture to foods, and while black pepper is the most common, there are a range of other peppers available. Let’s explore the most popular varieties and the best ways to use them.
Black peppercorns actually start as green peppercorns. They are cooked and dried and that’s what gives them their dark colour. Black pepper is commonly used to season foods like meat, eggs, salads and soups. Black peppercorns are ground to serve with table salt.
Picked when the berries are young, green peppercorns have a fresh, delicate, herbal taste. They are often pickled or preserved in vinegar or brine. They are used mainly in cooking, rather than for flavouring and work well with proteins including beef, chicken, pork and fish as well as being a common addition to dips and soups.
These are black peppercorns that have had the skin removed. They have a clean, earthy, spicy flavour that tastes fantastic with potatoes, salads, soups, creamy cheeses, tomatoes, cauliflowers, white sauce and creamy soups.
The imposter of the peppercorn world, pink peppercorns aren’t peppercorns at all! This Brazilian berry has a subtle sweet, floral and fruity flavour that works well with pork and seafood but also with sweet desserts, tropical fruits and chocolate.
Another peppercorn that is not technically a peppercorn, Sichuan is in fact, seed husks. With a fragrant, citrus flavour they are very popular in Chinese cooking and are known for the numbing sensation that they can bring to the mouth.