Pepper in the kitchen

Pepper (Piper nigrum)

Along with salt, pepper (Piper nigrum) is on almost every table. Depending on the period of collection and/or processing undergone, the following groups can still be distinguished:

  • Black peppers  – the strongest in flavor, though picked when not quite ripe.
  • Green pepper – picked when still green but not allowed to dry; spicier than black pepper.
  • White pepper – matured when picked; has its outer skin removed, dried and sun bleached before ground; has a milder flavor than black pepper; blends well into white dishes like mashed potatoes.
  • Pink pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius)  – the least pungent. Caution:  This is a different plant and persons with nut allergies should avoid consuming this pepper.

Some common uses of pepper

  • A spice added to various dishes and sauces.
  • Aids digestion.
  • Relieves pain.
  • Alleviates respiratory congestion.

Some helpful pepper cooking tips

  • Use organically grown pepper to cook.
  • Always add pepper at end of cooking to reduce the loss of flavor.
  • To ensure good flavor for your peppercorn, buy them whole and grind yourself.
  • Use peppercorn in venison preparation as it complements its deep flavor.
  • A few peppercorns in the peppercorn shaker adds flavor and prevents clogging.
  • Five turns on your peppercorn shaker are equivalent to one-eighth of a teaspoon pepper.
  • Make for proper ventilation if cooking a recipe with lots of pepper on high heat to avoid irritation.
  • Sprinkling salt and pepper from different heights, make a more evenly distributed seasoning.
  • One-part fresh ground pepper should be mixed with four parts kosher salt in a small bowl for use in seasoning meat so as not to contaminate the salt box.

How to store pepper

  • Store in a tightly sealed glass container in a ventilated, poorly-lit and dry place.
  • Ground peppercorn can be stored with its flavor intact for up to three months, and whole ones almost indefinitely.
  • Opened peppercorn can be refrigerated in a brine; lasts up to one week.

Some top peppercorn brands include Indian tellicherry peppercorn considered the world’s finest, Morton’s Bassett brand, McCormick brand simply organic cayenne pepper etc.