black peppercorn

Vietnamese
whole
5.0
based on 24 reviews
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1.8 oz
$6
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1.8 oz
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VARIANTS
whole - Vietnamese
cracked - vietnamese
fine ground - vietnamese
Black peppercorns are grown in a variety of locales and the environmental conditions in these areas lend different flavor notes for acidity, sweetness, and citrus. Vietnamese peppercorns have an intense aroma but a more mellow taste, with flavor notes of smoke or wood and medium heat. Quality black peppercorns are uniform in color, with darker berries being more flavorful.

The natural mate to salt, whole peppercorns offer a pungency to everything from salads to steak and they're a perfect ingredient to add a bite to brines for pickling or corning proteins like beef for pastrami or corned beef.
QUICK INFO
black peppercorn , whole
TASTING NOTES
Pungent, spicy
AROMA
Tangy and sharp
PAIRINGS
The natural companion to salt in all savory foods and excellent with juniper for game or thyme with chicken, with other peppers for rubs and marinades, and it’s a natural for garam masala and chai spice blends.
SUBSTITUTIONS
Papaya seeds, capers or coriander seeds for a similar bite, or white, green, pink peppercorns for a milder taste. Other good substitutes for heat are chiles, cayenne, or Szechuan peppers.
PLANT PART
fruit / drupe
PROCESSING / FORM
whole
BOTANICAL NAME
Piper nigrum
VOLUME
2 oz (57 g) per 1/2 cup
ORIGIN
Vietnam
BOTANICAL NAME
Piper nigrum
AKA
pepper
peppercorn
Black, green, and white peppercorn are all the same berry (or, more precisely, drupe) of the peppercorn plant. The difference in color is due to the way the berries are processed.

The peppercorn plant is a perennial climbing vine in the Piperaceae family. It is cultivated and grows best in hot and humid regions and primarily grown in tropical southern India. Other places where it thrives have similar steamy environments since for best production the vine requires a long rainy season with high temperatures. In some areas the climbing vine is trained to grow on trees, whereas in others it is grown on trellis supports. Sometimes these supports can be found interspersed in tea or coffee plantations.

The berries are actually drupes. A drupe is a fruit that contains one seed—think peaches, cherries, olives, or even nutmeg if you have some spice knowledge. These drupes become yellowish-red when mature (7-8 months after flowering) and when any one berry on a spike-cluster has this hue it indicates to the farmers that harvest time has begun. However since the berries mature at different rates the berry spikes are picked at intervals and always by hand.

For black and green peppercorns, the berries are picked while not yet ripe. Entire spikes are picked while they are still hard, shiny, green, and plump. Later the spike clusters are threshed to separate the berries from the stems.

For the production of black peppercorns, the berries can be immersed in boiling for a short time (1 minute) before being spread out in a field to sun dry. The blanching purports to create a more uniform color, as well as promote faster drying—reducing the drying time from 5-6 days to just 3-4 or four. The blanching and drying helps to disintegrate the pulp of the fruit; the peppercorn skin wrinkles, shrinks, and sticks to the inner kernel. Dark uniform color is the aim.

For the production of green peppercorns, after threshing, the unripe berry is sometimes preserved with steam blanching which can deactivate enzymes and retain the color, aroma, and flavor. Sometimes these green peppercorns are placed in a salt-water or vinegar brine and can be purchased preserved. Others are dried after steam blanching with drying methods that attempt to retain their unripe color.

White peppercorns require more work and more processing time. The berry must ripen on the vine, and then be allowed to ferment in water so that the outer skin can be rubbed off and removed. They are then sun dried as black peppercorn.

Note: Pink peppercorns are a different species!
USAGE HINT

A little goes a long way with black pepper. Taste as you season your dish to ensure that the pepper doesn't overwhelm the other ingredients. Like lemon, a dash of pepper adds excitement to every dish.

QUICK FACT

As with many spices, black peppercorn was at one time not just a luxury spice but also was used as currency. The phrase "as dear as pepper" was used to indicate something's tremendous expense.

 
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REVIEWS (24)