Get to Know: Green Peppercorn
Everything you’ll need to know about green peppercorn in a single blog! But let’s start off with a quick fact about the peppercorn’s history and before you close the tab, it is actually quite interesting! Peppercorns were actually once valued more than gold and it was used as currency during ancient Greek and Roman times. During medieval times, peppercorns could be accepted instead of money towards dowries, rent and taxes. Amazing how an extremely common spice that is available around every corner used to be so valuable!
What is Peppercorn?
Peppercorns are grown on a woody, slow-growing perennial evergreen vine that takes up to four years to reach blooming and fruiting size. The botanical name for a peppercorn plant is “Piper nigrum” and it can take seven years to reach its peak which will then keep producing fruits for up to 20 years. The vines can climb up to 10 metres in the wild with dark green oval leaves and greenish-yellow florets that bloom in the summertime.
The florets will then flower and ripen into the peppercorn fruits that will first appear green and then eventually turn red at the time of harvest. All peppercorns, whether they are green, white or black, all come from the same vine. The difference is that green peppercorns are young fresh fruit that will later become black peppercorns through a separate drying process. White peppercorns are made from dried black peppercorns by removing the outer skin and revealing the inner pale seed.
Where to Buy and Store Green Peppercorn?
Used as a spice, a green peppercorn is an under-ripe peppercorn berry that is available whole or preserved in brine and packed in jars. Brine packed green peppercorns should be stored in the refrigerator after they are opened, where they can be kept for several weeks. The whole peppercorns can be used to add a mildly spiced flavour to vegetables, poultry, or fish. The brine-cured peppercorns are commonly served in salads, sauces and dressings.
Foraged Green peppercorns have a more mild spice but offer a complex fresh vegetable flavour with a chewy texture that pops. When foraging, select berries with a slight sheen and tightly clustered together. Fresh Green peppercorns are quite perishable and commonly found preserved in brine or pickled. In tropical regions, Green peppercorns are available year-round.
In the UK it can be hard to find fresh stem young peppercorn, but if you have a speciality store or Asian supermarket close by, then you may be lucky enough to see them stocked there. You can also find them online through online Thai supermarkets but unfortunately, they do sell out quickly, so keep your eyes peeled and keep checking.
Preparing and Cooking with Green Peppercorn?
Green peppercorns are popular in French, Thai, and Western European cuisines. They complement seafood, poultry, grilled meats, pates, butter, cream, white sauce, white wine, mustard, curry and parsley. There’s not much that goes into preparing green peppercorns for cooking, just give them a gentle rinse under cold running water and be careful not to rub as the berries can easily fall off.
Our favourite meal to cook with young peppercorns is in a traditional Thai Jungle curry. The extra bursts of heat bring fiery spice to your taste buds, it's really not for the faint-hearted! You can check out our traditional Thai jungle curry recipe here for inspiration. If you are still building up your spice tolerance, I would recommend eating 1 or 2 berries per mouthful as the curry sauce itself is VERY HOT!
Health Benefits from Green Peppercorn
There are a few health benefits from the young green peppercorns such as being high in iron, vitamin K, and antioxidants. A chemical called “piperine” is found in green peppercorns that may have anti-cancer properties. The oil derived from the young green peppercorns is used to treat chills, flu, colds, exhaustion, poor circulation and muscular aches.
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