Peppercorns - black-green-pink-red-white are all different, although all, but the pink, are from Piper nigrum, a perennial flowering vine. Time of harvesting, and secondary treatment and processing is what drives the uniqueness of their appearances, flavors and aromas.
Black pepper is the most popular food flavoring in the world. Early civilizations traded and used this ancient spice as a currency.
Peppercorns all start out as green immature (unripe) fruit on the vine. Some are harvested before maturity, treated or preserved while still green, to retain their color, and are sold as green peppercorns.
Most of this early-harvested green fruit is dried (they turn dark), and sold as black peppercorns.
Other fruit on the vine is allowed to ripen to maturity to a deep red color. A few of these are sold as red peppercorns, primarily in their countries of origin. However, the majority of the fully ripen red fruit is harvested, dried (become black)and processed (soaked in water, held under running water, or machined) to remove the dark outer coats and reveal inner light-beige colored kernels that are sold as white peppercorns.
Black Peppercorns are hot and pungent. White pepper, used extensively in Asian cuisines, can be equally as pungent with a somewhat-winy taste. Green peppercorns have about one-third the heat and pungency of the black. Pink, actually berries, are milder. Pink and green peppercorns are fragile and can be crushed in the palm of your hand. All peppercorns can be crushed with a mortar and pestle, although most people prefer using a peppermill.
Black peppercorns from its Malabar Coast are India’s standard. The biggest and more mature of these peppercorns, about ten percent, are known as Tellicherry and are considered a higher grade.
Unripe Green corns become either Green or Black peppercorns (dried immature corns).
Peppercorns that stay on the vine until maturity become fully ripen Red peppercorns. Most are dried and processed, with water or machinery, to remove their dark outer coats, and become White peppercorns.
Pink Peppercorns are actually berries from a different plant. They are included in the peppercorn family because they have a similar look.
Indigenous to India, peppercorns are known today by where they are grown. Malabar and Tellicherry are from India’s Malabar Coast. Vietnam is a huge producer. Lampung and Muntok are from Indonesia. Sarawak is from Malaysia.
Pink Peppercorns, berries from a different plant, are indigenous to the French island of Reunion.
All cuisines use black peppercorns whole and ground. This spice is used in a countless number of dishes, and in countless ways. Whole peppercorns are easy to use; all you need is a good peppermill. Freshly ground pepper gives the best flavor.
White pepper is used in Asian cuisines like black pepper is used by the rest of the world. It is great for light-colored dishes (pepper specks are not as visible).
The milder Green Peppercorns are especially good for: cheese dishes, chicken, eggs, duck, fish, goose, pork, rabbit, turkey, and venison.
Also, consider green corns for anyone finding black and white corns to be too pungent, too spicy.
Black pepper is considered a carminative: it diminishes flatulence. Its Piperine compounds boost metabolism. Some consider it an aphrodisiac. Black pepper stimulates the appetite, and aids digestion. Calms nausea. It encourages perspiration; but, may increase hot flashes.
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