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.