Your Guide to the Different Types of Peppercorns
Black peppercorns are the go-to spice for most pantries, but there's a lot of good flavor coming from other types of peppercorns. Here you'll learn about green, white, pink, and other peppercorn varieties to change-up your home spice game.
Take a look at pretty much any savory recipe and you can assume pepper is going to be listed as an ingredient. Sure, black pepper is the most common (and likely already in your pantry), but a trip down your local grocery store's spice aisle might reveal a rainbow of different-colored peppercorns. But where do peppercorns come from, anyway? While their pungent flavor might make you think otherwise, peppercorns are actually a small fruit from a flowering vine known as piper nigrum, grown in tropical regions. If you haven't ventured into the world of different peppercorns, now's your chance to learn. Find out about some of the most popular varieties of peppercorns out there and some delicious ways to use them. Then you can decide which one's to add to your spice collection.
Leonid Sneg/Getty Images
You're likely familiar with this one. Black peppercorns start as green peppercorns before getting cooked and dried into the wrinkled little fruits you know. There are several varieties, but Tellicherry and Lampong are the most common. Kampot peppercorns ($11, The Spice House) from Cambodia are also an up-and-coming variety according to Alex Wilkens, operations manager at The Spice House. Use black peppercorn to season steaks, gravies, or to top any dish that could use a punch of spice.
Green peppercorns are picked when the berries are young and still green. They have a fresh, herbal, delicate taste. Sprinkle them on potato dishes or stir them into cream-based soups and sauces. You might also spot green peppercorns in brine at the store, which preserves the peppercorn's delicate flavor. Used mostly for cooking, not flavoring, the brined variety is commonly found in classic dishes such as steak au poivre.
Pink peppercorns aren't actually peppercorns at all, but dried berries from the Brazillian pepper tree (aka Christmas berry tree). Since they have the same size and shape as actual peppercorns, they end up getting lumped in with the other peppercorn varieties. Its distinct flavor adds citrus and floral notes to dishes, these vibrant non-peppercorns add an elegant flair to sweet treats, tropical fruits, chocolate, and even jellies.