White Peppercorns, love them or hate
When polling my foodie friends regarding white peppercorns
and white pepper in general I was taken aback by the strong feelings both good and bad regarding the spice.
This spice was either loved or hated. There were no in between responses. Any spice able to stir up this kind of
emotion is a spice worth doing a bit of research on and stocking on my shelf.
Native to Southern India, the piper nigrum plant produces
green, red, black and white peppercorns. Different picking times and processing after harvest give each of the
peppercorns their color. White peppercorns are picked when almost ripe and yellowish-red in
color. They are then soaked in running water for up to a week to help release the outer skin and
flesh. The remaining seed is then rinsed and sun dried to produce the white peppercorn.
White peppercorns have a slightly musty smell and pungent
flavor. The smell and pungent flavor are two of the reasons some hate them. They are less aromatic and are
less complex in flavor than black peppercorns but their flavor is sharper and noticeable. This is because the
skin and fruit flesh have been removed and we have no other distractions when experiencing the spice. We are
left with a simple, mild, pungent, clean spice with a good level of heat able to withstand high cooking
White peppercorns and white pepper have strong ties to
Chinese, Korean and Thai cuisine and are three reasons to love them. In french cuisine, white pepper is an
aesthetic spice. How can you cook a light sauce, fish or poultry and have black specks running through
it? So for the french cuisine purist, white peppercorns are a necessity for keeping the aesthetic. For those
who love a bit of pizazz with there orange beef, hot and sour soup or Thai grilled chicken with sweet chile dipping
sauce, white peppercorns are not an aesthetic but a necessity.