One of my very favorite ingredients to work with when cooking is pepper. Now pepper is ubiquitous, it’s all over the place. Salt and pepper is very, very common but there is so much more than that. You’re probably very familiar with simple black peppercorns. You can get them in all kinds of sizes, shapes and varieties. You just crush them up and apply as much or as little as you want. But that is not all there is to pepper, and a lot of it depends on the life cycle of when the little seeds – well, they’re drupes – are picked.
So – if you don’t let them get all the way to the black peppercorn stage you start out over here, with green peppercorns. Now these are very similar, they have the same chemical compound that give black peppercorn it’s little peppery kick. That distinct little bite that nothing else has. Now these are done in several different ways. You’ll often find them sold like this, in little tiny jars and they’ve been packed in a salt water brine or sometimes in vinegar, and to use them this way – let’s see if I can make this happen – just crush them with the back of a spoon. Just open them up and you’ve got that wonderful peppery kick. It’s softer though, and if you’ve gotten rid of the salt brine, you have this beautiful, soft blossom of flavor, but without quite as much strength.
Now go on up in the life cycle and you wait a little bit longer, a white peppercorn is simply a peppercorn that has been picked right before it has developed that black outer casing. Now these are also done dry, and done just like you would do a black peppercorn. A lot of times white pepper is reserved for white dishes. If you want to do a pretty béchamel and don’t want black pepper flecks, or if you run a puree of potato and don’t want the black pepper flecks, use the white pepper. You get much the same flavor but you don’t have, you know – little specks.
And finally, over here, we have pink peppercorns. Now this is a slightly different species than these other three, but they do have much the same flavor. You can buy these dried, and if you can see this, this one’s set aside by this, what you have is this little tiny husk, and this little kernel on the inside. Now that husk is what it makes it so pretty, and pink peppercorn – and green peppercorn too – both have been rising in popularity recently. I’ve noticed that from browsing online – lots of people have been posting recipes.
Next time you’re looking at pepper – give one of these other ones a try. You’ll love the difference in flavor, and the variety, and you won’t be limited to just the black!