Let’s Clear Your Peppercorn Confusion
As intertwining as the pepper wine seems the confusing varieties of peppercorns that you always wished someone to fittingly differentiate for you. The most commonly found trio is the Black, Green and White Peppercorns that might be constants of spice boxes in all most all kitchens around the world. But there are some other interesting varieties of peppercorns like Malabar and Tellichery Peppercorns that are worthy to try out if you haven’t already. Perhaps there is no other spice in the world that comes in this much varieties defined by its size, texture, colour and various stages of development and processing. Each of them has a distinctive flavour profile, making them suitable to give a unique flavour and aroma to the dishes from cuisines all around the world. Here’sgiven a breakdown of different types of peppercorns with their peculiarities that will help you distinguish each of its variant and know about their specific usages.
The Story of Black Gold
The wrinkly little peppercorn with its humble origin along the Malabar Coast of India has played a big role in the history of food. These are the berries of a climbing vine “Piper Nigrum” that grows over 50 feet tall in lush tropical jungles, twining itself around trees for support. Since antiquity, it is used in ancient cooking as a preservative and aphrodisiac. It is also regarded a key ingredient in medicinal preparations as well, owe to its remarkable therapeutic and healing qualities.By the fifth century, peppercorns became so expensive a trade-good that it was used to pay off taxes, rents and levies in place of currency which earned it the title “The Black Gold”. Mountains of tiny peppercorns were making their journey from Kerala to different continents. In fact, it was largely the desire for this black, pungent King of spices that lead to the discovery of sea-route to India. Since then, the consumptionof pepper steadily remains enormous, accounting for about one-fifth of GlobalSpice Trade today.It is ubiquitously loved and prized in India as in Western Countries. But still the half of the world is yet to know the distinctive features of peppercorn varieties other than that of Green, Black and White Peppercorn. And here, we try to set it straight for you.
- Green Peppercorns: It all begins Green!
Green peppercorns are picked immature and unripe from the same vine as white and black Peppercorns and then dehydrated or preserved to give it a mild, fruity flavour. These are often preserved in brine or vinegar and served in pickled form. In dried form, they don't last very long and have to be used quickly.
Uses: They're commonly found in Thai and other Southeast Asian recipes and have a fresher flavor than their black and white counterparts. This is the original pepper used for steak au poivre and other classic peppercorn sauces, popular in French cuisine. In the Southern Part of India, especially in Kerala where Pepper grows in abundance, grinded green peppercorn is a must have marinate for seafood and meat stir-fries and roasts.
- Black Peppercorn: The Commoner turned Celebrity
This little black pellet and its powder are as common as salt in the kitchen, popularly used to banish blandness from food. Black peppercorns journey into production begins just as green berries on the vine. Once the berries turn ripen enough, the spikes are harvested, cleaned and dried in the sun. Due to the heat, its cell wall gets ruptured and enzymes get browned. After several days of drying, theskin around the seed also shrinks and darkens into a thin, wrinkled black layer, making it look like dark brownish spheres, which we call “Black peppercorn”.
Uses: Hot zingy rasam, with black pepper powder taking the centre stage on anyone’s palate. It has a hot, pungent, earthy and aromatic kick that brightest even the dullest of dishes. It plays a huge role in the culinary world and its uses varies based on different styles of cuisine from dressings, coating meat, crushed peppercorns to chai tea. Use it in recipes to add flavor and spice to meats, fish, vegetables, salad dressings, soups, stir-fries, pasta, and more. You can also add a dash of black pepper to scrambled eggs, avocado toast, fruit, and dipping sauces for a spicy kick. It is suitable for almost all cuisines in the world and in the hands of expert Chefs, it transforms into toppings for ice-creams and stir-ins for healthy juices as well.
- White Peppercorn: The Sibling of Black Peppercorn
White peppercorns are actually black peppercorns with their outer thin black coloured skin/flesh removed after soaking in water. It consists solely the seed of the ripe fruit of the pepper plant. Like black pepper, there are different varieties of white peppercorns, and many share names and regions.
Uses: White peppercorn lacks certain compounds present in the outer layer of the drupe, giving it altogether a different flavour. In powdered form, white pepper is commonly used in Chinese, Thai and Portuguese cuisines. Suitable as seasoning for cream sauces, mashed potatoes or any other uniformly light-coloured dish where black pepper would visibly stand out.
- Tellichery Peppercorn: The Best of the Best
Many believe in the wrong notion that Tellicherry Peppercorn is that Tellicherry peppercorns come from the city of Tellicherry, India. Another wrong belief is that Tellicherry peppercorns are left on the vine longer. They're left on the vine the same amount of time as regular peppercorns.Once dried, the harvested peppercorns will be sorted at the garbling facilities on the basis their size. Then the various peppercorn sizes will be grouped, called by different names and sold for different prices. So, the nomenclature of Tellicherry peppercorn actually determines its size. That means when a black peppercorn is 4.25 mm pinhead or larger, it's "Tellicherry."The larger the peppercorn, the better and stronger the flavor. It’sprobably the highest-graded variety with a very complex flavor profile. It forms the top 10 percent of the pepper crops and the best of the top 10 percent are further sorted into “Tellicherry Extra Bold” or “Tellicherry Special Bold” varieties.
Uses: These whole peppercorns embody the full brash and punchy flavour that’s almost fruit like. Its citrusy aroma and rich complexity make it a wonderful all-purpose ingredient in your kitchen.
- Malabar Peppercorn: Reminding the Roots
Malabar Peppercorn is one such variety of black peppercorn that is named for the regions they’re grown in. It was predominately found in the Malabar region of the erstwhile Madras Presidency and now the regions it grow entail the entire South India. Classified under two grades known as garbled and un-garbled, it is usually used as a spice and seasoning. The garbled variety is black in colour nearly globular with a wrinkled surface. The ungarbled variety has a wrinkled surface and the colour varies from dark brown to black.
Uses: These peppercorns have a bold and well-rounded taste, which is just a bit fruity.Grind in your own peppermill or use where required whole. Their flavour will enhance many dishes. Add whole to soups, stews, stocks and marinades.
- Green Peppercorn in Brine: Relish for Long
The green peppercorns are hard and green when freshly harvested, but can't be kept for too long. Hence Keeping it in Brine, a solution of vinegar and salt, is a good option to preserve the fresh green peppercorns for long. When brined, the peppercorn and tastes better as accompaniment to various dishes.
Uses: One of the most popular and delicious ways to enjoy the mild, fresh and zesty flavours of Brined Green Peppercorns is in creamy soups and sauces. These are perfect also to accompany roasted meats, and fatty fishes like tuna and salmon.
LAW India is home to the land of Pepper and the Spice Garden of India, Kerala itself. So are familiar with the colourful history and legacy of this Stalwart of the Spice Kingdom. So, we always strive to bring Pepper in its different forms keeping the same hallmark of quality that make them stand-alone in the spice market. Just to ensure that our pepper remains fragrant,fresh and beautiful, we avoid buying it from middlemen or storing for months in warehouses. Instead, we have our own farms where our farmer communities use their indigenous knowledge for farming the best organic pepper free from the use of any kind of additives or pesticides. And when we harvest them, we recognise and acknowledge the effort these farmers put in by giving it a global platform through our exclusive online shopping site www.weaveskart.com. Also available in popular online shopping sites like www.amazon.in and www.flipkart.com. Or visit our exclusive physical store in Trivandrum.
All the spicy variants of Peppercorns found in the notable spice markets across Kerala, virtually we array in these online shopping platforms. Try them all and spread the peppery story to all your acquaintances.
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