Types of Peppercorns and What Dishes They Go Best With

Peppercorns are a popular spice that can be found in almost any kitchen. Apart from classic black peppercorns, there are many other varieties of this spice from white, green, and even pink in color.

5-Minute Crafts is telling you about 5 popular types of peppercorns and explaining what dishes they are best for.

1. Black peppercorns

Black peppercorns (Lat. Piper nigrum) — is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae that comes from India. It is grown for its fruits that are dried and used as a spice. The fruits look like dark-red berries with seeds that have a diameter of 5 mm when fully ripened.

Black peppercorns are obtained from the still-green, unripe fruits of this plant. First, they are boiled in hot water for a short time, and then they are dried under the sun for several days or in a tumble dryer. During this time, the skin around the seeds shrinks and darkens, forming a thin, wrinkled black layer.

What they taste like: hot, earthy, woody, with subtle fruity and floral notes.

What dishes they’re best for: meat, vegetable and many other dishes. Black pepper is a universal condiment and goes well with almost any food.

2. White peppercorns

White peppercorns are obtained from the fruits of the same plant Piper nigrum. It looks like the seeds of ripe berries, from which the outer shell (a thin skin of a dark color) has been removed. Usually, this effect is achieved by soaking the ripe berries in water for about a week. After the pulp gets soft, it’s removed, and the seeds are dried.

What they taste like: hot, tender, fruity, floral.

What dishes they’re best for: Chinese, Thai, and Portuguese cuisines. It’s especially good for soups and fried dishes to which white peppercorns add floral notes. It’s also used instead of black peppercorns for making salads, cooking light sauces, mashed potatoes, and other dishes where it’s necessary to preserve the initial color.

3. Green peppercorns

Just like black peppercorns, the green ones are cooked from unripened fruits of Piper nigrum. Dried peppercorns are processed in a special way so that they preserve the green color, for example, using sulfur dioxide, conservation, or freeze-drying. Less often, unripe berries are pickled in brine or vinegar.

What they taste like: soft, savory, fresh, fruity, with herbal notes.
What dishes they’re best for: fish, seafood, chicken, creamy sauces, and salad dressings.

4. Pink peppercorns

Unlike the 3 previous types of peppercorns, the pink ones are taken from the fruits of Schinus molle or Peruvian peppertree — an evergreen tree that grows in the Andes, Peru. Its bright pink berries are dried and used as a spice. They are about the same size as black peppercorns, however, they have a fragile outer shell. It crumbles easily, so it is not recommended to put pink pepper in a black pepper grinder. Instead, it should be crumbled by hand or gently pounded in a mortar and pestle.

What they taste like: sweet, bright, savory, fruity.

What dishes they’re best for: dishes with meat, white fish, poultry, and eggs.

5. Allspice pepper

Allspice (Jamaica pepper) looks like dried unripe berries of Pimenta dioica. It’s an evergreen tropical tree that is native to Central America and the Caribbean. Its berries are collected green and unripe, then dried under the sun. When dried, they get a brown color and resemble big smooth black peppercorns.

What they taste like: combines the taste and aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and pepper.

What dishes they’re best for: dishes of Caribbean, Arabic, and Near Eastern cuisines. It is used to flavor stews and meat dishes and it is also added to tomato sauces, marinades, spice mixtures, and sausages. In addition, allspice is often used to flavor desserts, baked goods, and hot drinks.

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