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The Pantry: Pepper

Fresh Ground Black Pepper Corns

The darker half of the classic seasoning duo, peppercorns are an essential for the well-stocked kitchen and are typically a staple in many quick recipes. For the best flavor, invest in a good-quality pepper grinder and use freshly ground pepper instead of purchasing pre-ground pepper. It will taste much fresher, and you won’t have to use as much to achieve the flavor you want.

The peppercorn is a berry from a flowering vine, native to India. After being harvested, the peppercorns are preserved in three main ways: removing the dark husk and drying, drying them whole with the husk, or preserving them in brine.  Black pepper is from the whole dried peppercorn. It has the most spicy and pungent flavor.

Other peppercorn varieties

White pepper is from the same plant, but the berry has the husk removed before drying. White pepper is popular in cream sauces and lightly-colored dishes when you don’t want the black pepper specks coloring the dish. Without the husk, it has a slightly less intense flavor than the black peppercorn without loosing the peppery bite.

Green peppercorn berries are harvested before they are ripe and preserved in brine. The young berries are less pungent, with a lighter flavor than their dried counterparts. The simple and spicy flavor is commonly paired with chicken dishes as well as steak.

Another tasty spice is the pink peppercorn. It adds a subtle citrus undertone and spicy sweet warmth. They can be found dried or preserved in brine.

 

- Alivia Duran

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