We all know that pepper is the spice behind salt that sits on most kitchen tables. But why is it that most of us use ground pepper instead of whole? Sure, it’s cheaper. But did you realize it cheapens the flavor of your food too? Here is why you should use whole peppercorn to ground pepper.
So let’s talk pepper:
A pepper medley is a colorful mix of peppercorn. Each color carries it’s own flavors. These peppercorn are all harvested from the same bush. The bush grows in areas around the world that are close to the equator, but about half of our pepper comes from India.
Black pepper carries the strongest of the peppercorn flavors. It is picked from the bush just before it is ripe and left to dry in the sun. While it dries, the outer color is darkened. Black pepper ranges in color from a lighter brown to jet black.
Green peppercorns are the berries that are picked long before they are ripe. They are picked around the same time that the black peppercorn is picked, but is not allowed to dry in the sun, so the color doesn’t change. Using green peppercorn will add a kick to the flavor, but it doesn’t last long.
White peppercorn is harvest similar to the above two flavors. It is soaked in water to remove the outer husk and then dried in the sun. Because the outer husk has been removed, it does not change in color. Using white peppercorn creates a lingering flavor in your food. A lot of cooks prefer to use white pepper in dishes where they don’t want pepper to show like in white sauce.
Pink or red peppercorns aren’t picked, but harvested right along with the vine. These are the berries that are ripe. They give a sweeter, more mellow flavor in comparison to the other colors. They are a rare find and are rather expensive.
So, why use whole in comparison to ground? Whole peppercorns, when stored correctly, will keep their flavor for a little over a year. Ground pepper only keeps it’s flavor for about 3-4 months.
When the whole peppercorn is cracked using a mill, oils are released bringing out even more flavor. This process doesn’t happen with ground pepper because it is already dry. So not only do you get a stronger flavor, but if you choose to use a peppercorn medley, you get a variety of peppercorn flavors that are sure to add more spice to your dish.